Differentiation: What is it? Essay

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Differentiation: What is it?

Today in education different abilities are being acknowledged on a regular basis. So a common description being used for the “perfect” classroom which accounts for the variety of instruction and activities is a differentiated classroom. This phrase is thrown around and many teachers may not understand how a differentiated classroom works. “In a differentiated classroom, the teacher assumes that learners have differing needs.
Therefore the teacher proactively plans a variety of ways to ‘get at’ and express learning” (Tomlinson, 2001, p. 3). Planning for a variety of teaching strategies does not mean giving more work to the smart children. Instead the teacher must assess who understands the material,
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For example, if a third grade student can read at a fifth grade level then when it comes time for children to read books independently, the student should not be restricted to books which are considered to be appropriate for third grade students. Interest differentiation allows teachers to create an assignment which will involve an area that really interests students (Tomlinson, 2001). So if a science project is assigned to students and one child has aspirations of becoming a veterinarian then the teacher may encourage the student to research an animal for the project. The learning profile approach “ensures that a student has a way of ‘coming at’ materials and ideas that match his preferred way of learning” (Tomlinson, 2001, p. 73). An example may be that a teacher lectures on a topic, shows examples of the idea, and has children use materials to illustrate the topic. By creating numerous approaches to the information, the teacher allows for more students to comprehend the material.

Any approach to differentiating classrooms may take more time and planning than a traditional lesson of straight lectures. Yet teachers should notice that increased lessons which challenge students at the level which they are performing will allow all students to grow (Tomlinson, 2001). Making sure every student is growing is a job of the teacher. Ways in which lessons can be differentiated is endless (Tomlinson, 2001).
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