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What’s the DIF (Differentiated Instruction)in a learning journey?

April 11, 2010

What if we didn’t differentiate instruction in our classrooms? What if we just taught to the largest group in the class? What would it be like?
I’m sure it would be a lot like the classrooms of our youth (FYI- I grew up in the sixites and seventies), where those whose needs were not met would become behaviour challenges for the teacher, or lose interest, or simply disengage from learning. The fact is, good teachers already differentiate instruction, by giving students choice about the kind of products they create, by assisting students, by modifying expectations, and by using technology in the classroom.
And where would we be without technology tools to help make our lessons more engaging? Those lessons could miss almost half of the class, and students would not have opportunities to practice, to explore or to direct their own learning linked to things that connect to the lesson, but are more personally challenging.
With the skill of Differentiated Instruction, we have the power to make our science classes (and all classes for that matter) very powerful, where students will leave our classrooms intent on finding out for themselves those questions that are brewing in their heads, to continue learning from the moment they walk out of the room, to the day they leave our classroom at year end, and onward towards the goal of lifelong learning. Differentiated Instruction delivers the message that learning is a life journey. More importantly, they will have connected, in some way unique to their learning style, to the content of the lesson, and taken away a measure of learning, that they can then demonstrate in a unique way too.
We owe it to our students to use technology tools to make each and every lesson a special opportunity for every child in our class. It’s the teacher’s challenge. Dare I say destiny?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. April 18, 2010 6:11 am

    I completely agree that DI is absolutely necessary in today’s classrooms. I had teacher while going through middle school that taught to the WHOLE CLASS. I struggled greatly with math and was completely lost. I literally felt like I was sitting in a foreign language classroom. Talk about feeling like a complete failure!! My mom was at her wit’s end because I was crying and never wanted to go to school…knew that math class would last for 60 minutes and it was like living through hell. My mom finally was the one to reach me. She got books and taught me math in a way that made sense to me. It was a huge relief to learn with manipulatives. I am very hands on and learn math in a very different way. As a teacher, I really try to help my students learn in a way that meets their needs. I find it sad when students are pigeon holed into a learning style because the teacher refuses to teach in a DI manner using flex grouping or even technology to make the lesson more interesting!! It is definitely a teacher’s destiny to use DI in the classroom…after all…isn’t that why we are there?? To help students learn to the best of their ability…not ours!!

  2. Katie Niven permalink
    April 18, 2010 3:05 pm

    I am super excited about the teacher’s resource that you posted referencing GoogleDocs. I utilize the “program” quite often, and in fact have my students are using it today. I was unaware of the the multiple uses and capabilities provided to; for example the flashcard templates. WoW! What a great tool. I cannot say enough, what a great resource GoogleDocs is. Not only did it give great ideas and explain the many uses of GooglDocs, but it went on to state all of the applications and tools Google has available to teachers. Again, I had no idea. I spent a large chunk of time reading through the thread you linked, and even downloaded it to my computer. I plan on sharing it with my tech department next week, as I think it would be beneficial to share with the district as a whole. This class is really opening my eyes to a plethora of applications and resources I had not been aware of! Thanks for the great post.

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