In the modern classroom, one will find a mixture of varied levels of learners and their learning abilities. This diverse classroom setting has become the norm in the music education world as the varied learners mix together into one assorted learning environment. Music educators must then increasingly investigate methods of creating differentiated learning lessons to meet the needs of each of their individual learners. Differentiation describes the instructional planning techniques designed to incorporate all the assorted learning styles of a particular classroom into one larger lesson plan. Through the investigation of a mixture of psychological developmental theories, a music educator can determine which learning theories include successful applications for creating differentiated learning in the music classroom in regards with not only all learners. (I don't understand this part)
Differentiated Instruction Background and Planning
By first examining the makings of differentiated instruction, one can then decipher what elements of each developmental psychology theories work best in aiding differentiation in the classroom. Tomlinson describes differentiation as a method for educators to address the different learning styles of each individual learner in the classroom and to guarantee positive learning results are met by these learners by creating distinct instruction catered to the particular student (Tomlinson, 2004). Educators must first acknowledge that the students in their classroom have different learning approaches and adapt to new material or new methods differently.
Recognizing the diversity of learning styles found in the classroom can be achieved through pre-assessing the students in the classroom or through instituting layered instruction. The first method is more traditionally used in classrooms where the teacher pre-tests the students on all previous knowledge acquired and concepts where students need reinforced mastery work. Tomlinson recommends that the pre-assessment to not simply be a written test, but to use games or interactive methods that allow all students to be engaged in more of a manner that will demonstrate learning styles, unlike a written test (Tomlinson, 2004). Dr. Nunley offers a different outlook on how to determine a particular classroom’s learning variants by suggesting the concept of a "layered curriculum". In her book, she describes a five step process to be instituted at the beginning of a learning unit where the teacher allows the students to select three layers of activities to participate in where each of the layers increase in more advanced learning strategies, assignments, and assessments (Nunley, 1998). Though this activity is designed more for general education courses, in the music classroom one could easily create an opening unit assignment to allow the students to choose several different musical tasks that are distinctly different in learning styles or approaches.