With the ever-increasing diversity of our classrooms and the demands of achieving adequate yearly progress, it's never been clearer that a "one-size-fits-all" approach fails to meet the needs of our students. Newbridge is dedicated to providing you with the high-quality, research-based materials you need to help your students attain success—including a variety of resources to support differentiated instruction.
In This Issue
|The Benefits of Differentiated Instruction
What is differentiated instruction? Education professor Carol Ann Tomlinson, author of several essays and books on differentiated instruction and its merits, offers this definition:
"[Differentiated instruction] emphasizes vigorous attempts on the part of classroom teachers to meet students where they are in the learning process and move them along as quickly and as far as possible in the context of a mixed-ability classroom."
Educators and education researchers cite numerous explanations for why differentiated instruction should be practiced in the modern classroom.
1. The increasing diversity of children within a classroom
This trend is reported in rural, suburban, and urban school districts. Within a single class, the primary teacher is more likely than ever before to face children of diverse backgrounds, including children new to the school district, English-language learners and, in many cases, mainstreamed special needs children (Noguera 1999; Rosenkoetter et al. 2001).
2. The national emphasis on achievement in standardized tests
Today's textbooks and other educational materials typically are constructed with the principal goal of meeting state standards and aiming instruction toward assessment. Such materials encompass a "one-size-fits-all" approach that both neglects children's individual needs and fails to encourage an interest in learning (Murray, Shea, and Shea 2004).
3. No Child Left Behind (NCLB) legislation
In the NCLB metric for measuring yearly progress, children's test scores are disaggregated into various groups based on demographic factors. Yet children are not segregated into these demographic groups within the school, but rather are distributed nearly evenly among all classrooms. Only by differentiating their instruction to meet each group's needs can teachers hope to achieve adequate yearly progress for all, as NCLB demands (VanSciver 2005).
Articles in this newsletter were excerpted from the Early Science Research Report.
Download the complete Early Science Research Report now. (210K)
Methods of Differentiated Instruction
Experts are clear that classroom instruction cannot and should not be differentiated in all its aspects. In Tomlinson's research, teachers that have successfully incorporated differentiated instruction employ strategies in one, two, or all three of these
1. Content refers to the subject matter under study. All students should be given access to the same core content, but at adjusted degrees of complexity.
2. Process refers to the instructional approaches that children employ to learn content. These approaches include reading texts, conducting hands-on activities, listening to teacher lectures, and participating in class or small-group discussions.
3. Products include children's projects or reports that show what they have learned, as well as extend the content beyond the classroom setting (Willis and Mann 2000; Tomlinson 1999).
By necessity, all methods of successful differentiated instruction begin with the grouping of children according to their level of accomplishment. Once grouped, children may be charted onto parallel curricular tracks that typically lead to a common goal, although some groups may achieve additional or more complex goals than other groups.
For example, teachers may have children in all groups read the same science text but differentiate the hands-on activity they conduct, which is an example of differentiating by process.
she may assign texts that cover the same content at different reading levels, an example of differentiating by content (Tomlinson 2001).
Newbridge Early Science was designed to help all students in your diverse classroom master essential science content.
Learn how the Early Science program supports differentiated instruction!