Pros of Differentiated Instruction
Differentiated instruction is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. It
means using a variety of instructional strategies that address diverse student learning needs. It places students at the center of teaching and learning and student needs drive instructional planning. Differentiated learning is a way to enhance learning for all students by engaging them in activities that respond to particular learning needs, strengths and preferences (Wikipedia, 2002). Realization that learners vary in their readiness, interests, and learning is crucial to student success. It is very important that students of diverse cultural backgrounds have a variety of instructional strategies to foster education and learning. It is great to have a melting pot effect but at the same time everyone is different and these differences must be addressed. Understanding this point, educators then work towards mastering the same themes and skills in their classroom but utilize different content, strategies, and products to achieve the curricular goals. If everyone is taught at the same level using the same strategies then education becomes robotic and mechanical.
When put in practice, the differentiated learning classroom may appear as chaos but in reality it is a workshop like atmosphere. The teacher becomes more of a facilitator as they travel from group to group, participating with and mentoring students through the activities. The goals of differentiated instruction are to develop challenging and engaging tasks for each learner (from low-end learner to high-end learner). The low-end learner or lower functioning learner needs different strategies and modifications then the average or high-end learner. For example, the low-end learner may need to have the content modified so that it is simplified to meet students’ needs at that level. Low-end learners may not be able to attain grade-level appropriate curriculum objectives; however, all learners need the opportunity to be successful at their individual instructional levels. Average learners are typically able to attain grade-level appropriate curriculum objectives, but may need adaptations in content such as more time to complete tasks and hands on experiences to reach their full potential. High-end learners may be above the grade-level curriculum objectives and need to be provided with enrichment activities. These few students may need advanced modifications such as independent study projects. Differentiation is all about options and not about being punitive by just piling on additional work for the more able (Tomlinson,1996).
Based upon research that supports differentiated instruction and students varying
educational differences and needs, how can educators afford not to promote the positives
of differentiated instruction?
Cons of Differentiated Instruction
While research shows that differentiated instruction is, when correctly implemented,...