Sep 1, 2008

differentiation workshop

My school is hosting a conference on gifted education. I am scheduled to present on differentiation. Right now my main thoughts are that differentiation goes beyond Gardner's learning styles.

There are at least six ways to differentiate:
The pace
The content
The delivery
The product
The environment
The assessment

If you are differentiating the pace then each student can progress at the speed that he/she is able, but they are all learning the same material. I have seen elementary teachers do this very effectively with checklists.

If you are differentiating the content then each child is able to learn something different. This can go as far as independent study, but can also work in a more traditional setting where although groups learn different material they then report back to the class as a whole what they learned.

In delivery differentiation every student is responsible for learning the same material, but the teacher presents the material in different ways to maximize each students' learning potential.

In product differentiation every student is learning the same material, but they show the mastery of the material in different ways. Some students may choose to do posters while others do PowerPoint presentations.

In environment differentiation the physical environment and the conditions the students work in are differentiated. Students may have preferential seating in the classroom, or be allowed the use of certain tools and/or manipulatives.

By differentiating assessments students are still held accountable for the same information, but they are allowed to demonstrate their competence in a way that will best reflect that for them as individuals. Assessments can be modified to show students' individual growth rather than reflecting their mistakes. Assessments can be formative when the teacher uses them to inform future instructional plans.

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