Thursday, August 30, 2012

Differentiation Strategies

Differentiation strategies allows all students in an inclusive classroom to learn more effectively because they are presented with different avenues to understanding the content, regardless of their unique learning differences. For instance, three differentiation strategies for presenting the content material might include: an oral presentation to appeal to auditory learners, a supplemental handout, which appeals to visual learners, and a hands-on activity to appeal to the kinesthetic learners. In addition, all students benefit from having content presented in different modalities since the brain is activated in different ways, making it more likely that the brain will retain the information. Differentiating the content requires administering a pre-assessment to determine what students know and don’t know. The teacher than adjusts the content presented accordingly, depending on whether students need more background information, or can skip ahead.

Differentiation strategies for the process allow students to use different techniques to learn the content being presented. These strategies might include: individual vs. whole class or small group work, taking notes, or using a graphic organizer or Venn diagram to visually represent the information. Again, the strategy selected depends on the student’s unique learning styles. A kinesthetic learner might benefit from taking notes; an auditory learner might benefit from text on audio; a visual learner might learn the content best by creating a mindmap.

Differentiation strategies for the product allow students to choose how to demonstrate their mastery of the content. Different assignment options are presented, and the student picks one, depending on their particular interests, background, and learning styles. These strategies might include: creating a poster, making a board game, presenting an oral report, or writing an essay.

Differentiation Strategy Chart
Connor, who has a learning disability. He has been diagnosed with ADHD.

Connor is fidgety and likes to move around a lot. He has a hard time focusing for long periods of time and tends to forget new information easily. He needs to sit in the front of the class and needs material presented in small bits (chunking) to help remember.

He learns best by listening to the teacher explain concepts, examples, taking notes and doing hands-on projects (auditory and kinesthetic).

Connor loves to play soccer. His favorite food is watermelon.
Learn what the scientific  method  is and why it’s useful in helping scientists design experiments.

Listen to a presentation prepared by the teacher while taking Cornell notes.
Connor will sit in the front to make it easier to pay attention.
Use chunking to learn vocab (limit to 5 words a time). Prepare flashcards.

PRODUCT: Students can choose to:
  1. Do a lab
  2. Make a poster
  3. Write an essay
  4. Present an oral speech
CONTENT differentiation is based on Connor’s readiness because of his ADHD.

PROCESS differentiation is based on Connor’s readiness because of his ADHD.

LEARNING ENVIRONMENT is based on Connor’s readiness because of his ADHD (he sits in the front).

PRODUCT differentiation is based on Connor’s readiness because of his ADHD and learning profile since Connor can choose his assessment task. 

TPE 4: Making Content Accessible.

Della Vedova, T. (2009). Teacher pd: Using differentiated instruction to teach differentiated instruction. Retrieved from

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