Differentiated instruction is how teachers in New Albany meet the day-to-day academic needs of our gifted learners within the classroom. Our teachers understand that not every child must be doing the same activity at the same time as every other student in his/her class. Different learners have different needs, and teachers design learning opportunities for students according to each student’s needs, readiness, and interests. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to provide those opportunities without labeling or obviously isolating individual learners in the classroom.
Gifted children benefit from a differentiated curriculum within a cluster group of students with similar gifted identifications. The Gifted Intervention Specialist works with the teachers to assist in the planning of modified activities and lessons for our gifted students. The Gifted Intervention Specialist will also provide materials and other resourses to the classroom teachers to help meet the day-to-day academic needs of our gifted learners.
Differentiated teaching is responsive teaching. It stems from a teacher’s solid understanding of how teaching and learning occur, and it responds to varied learners needs for more structure or more independence, more practice or greater challenge, a more active or less active approach to learning, and so on. Teachers who differentiate instruction are quite aware of the scope and sequence of curriculum prescribed by their state, district, and school. They are also aware that the students in their classrooms begin each school year spread out along a continuum of understanding and skill. The teacher’s goal is to maximize the capacity of each learner by teaching in ways that help all learners bridge gaps in understanding and skill.
(Tomlinson and Edison, 2003)
Differentiated instruction is…
More qualitative than quantitative. Students are offered learning experiences that are developmentally appropriate. In other words, instruction is “different, not more.”
Student-centered. Because teachers believe that learning experiences are most effective when they are engaging, relevant, and challenging, and because they accept that all students come to the classroom with differing levels of readiness, teachers actively seek to provide appropriate and challenging learning experiences for all their students.
A blend of whole class, small group, and individual instruction. To best meet the needs of all children, students often begin a study as a whole group, move out to pursue learning in small groups or individually, then come back together to share or to make plans for further investigation, move out for more work, come together again, and so on.
Fluid and flexible. In differentiated classrooms, as children grow and gain from learning experiences, teachers continually assess students’ needs, interests, and readiness. Grouping is changed often and instruction is adjusted in anticipation of and response to these changing needs.
A method that uses a variety of teaching strategies. Teachers in a differentiated classroom challenge, extend, enrich and accelerate students in many ways. For example, teachers may use curriculum compacting, tiered assignments, group investigations, learning centers, independent study, or learning contracts.