Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile:
- Content – what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information;
- Process – activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content;
- Products – culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit; and
- Learning environment – the way the classroom works and feels.
What do the experts say?
— Tomlinson, et al.
"Differentiation is changing the pace, level or kind of instruction you provide in response to individual learner needs, styles, or interest."
- Having high expectations for all students
- Adjustment of the core content
- Assigning activities geared to different learning styles, interests, and levels of thinking
- Providing students with choices about what and how they learn
- Flexible because teachers move students in and out of groups based upon students' instructional needs
- Acknowledgment of individual needs
- Articulated, high level goals reflecting continuous progress
- Assessment to determine student growth and new needs
- Adjustment of curriculum by complexity, breadth, and rate
- Educational experiences which extend, replace, or supplement standard curriculum
Differentiation is not...
- More problems, questions, or assignments
- Get it on your own
- Recreational reading
- Independent reading without curriculum connections
- Free time to draw or practice your talent
- Cooperative learning groups where the gifted kid gets to be the leader
- Activities that all students will be able to do
- Interest centers unless linked to core content and at a complex level