Due to the differences in the ability of every student to learn, the need for differentiated instruction, also known as differentiated learning and multi-level instruction, increases that involves a variety of strategies used by teachers in addressing every students learning. Basically, differentiated instruction is a way by which teachers find a variety of ways in teaching in order for students to have multiple options in gathering information, creating new ideas and teaching students in the same class with different abilities.
It involves the recognition of the difference in the students background knowledge, preferences in learning, interest and as well as language, readiness and their ability to react responsively.
The main premise of the theory is that the teaching approaches should vary and be adapted in relation to the diverse students in the classroom and as well as in relation to every individual students. Thus, the teacher’s main challenge is to come with a variety of ways in order to maximize the growth of every student by individually meeting each student while assisting in the learning process.
Differentiated instruction aims to encourage the inclusion of all the students while addressing different learning styles and allowing diversity among the students. It also fosters self-worth together with social relation among the students while meeting the emotional and especially the academic needs of every student and allowing the teachers to reach all of his or her students. Thus, teachers really have to put a lot of effort in order to differentiate instruction for the benefit of their students.
Differentiated instruction is important especially in the elementary grade because students at this level greatly vary especially in their knowledge background and ability to comprehend. Thus, teachers at this level have the greatest challenge of maximizing every students potential by attending to their differences in various ways, thus differentiating instructions. It can also be said that differentiating instruction also relates to the professionalism of every teachers, their competency and creativeness.
It can also determine the eagerness and dedication of the teachers to help their students since differentiated instruction takes a lot of time and preparation. Based on the readiness of students, there are at least four elements in which teachers can differentiate such as content, process, products and the learning environment. The contents are the information that every student must comprehend and differentiating content would mean using different materials and elements in order to support the context.
Differentiating process involves activities in order for the students to have an understanding and grasp of the subject matter that most of the time uses flexible grouping. The products involves the termination of the activities and asking the students to rehearse, extend and apply everything the he or she was able to learn in the activity thus, making the students active in exploring the knowledge that he or she acquires. Differentiating learning environment on the other hand is basically the way the classroom feels and works.
If for example in an elementary school, differentiating content may include putting the text materials in a tape or using both auditory and visual means in presenting a topic. It may also include having buddies or forming a small group and using different reading materials with varying levels of readability. Differentiating process on the other hand may include activities in which learners with the same understanding and ability work together or offering hands-on supports for those students who are in need.
Time variation for students to be able to finished a certain task can also help in supporting struggling students to have a full understanding of the topic while encouraging advanced learners to search for the topic in a deeper sense. Differentiating products may include activities in which students have to work on their own or in group in order to accomplished a certain task or giving the students the options for them to express the required learning through different activities such as letter writing or maybe, a puppet show.
Differentiating learning environment on the other hand may include ensuring that the place or room is free from distractions such as noises and other distractions or providing materials in relation to the topic for better understanding. There are certainly several ways of presenting a topic to students and differentiated instruction is widely needed by students especially in the elementary level. However, differentiated instruction does not only fit elementary students but every student from different levels as well.
Through differentiated instruction subject matter can also be more comprehensible for English Language Learners and as well as those students with special needs through the use of different activities. Acknowledging the different needs of every student specially those with special needs will also help the teacher to prepare special teaching methods for the students to have an understanding of the subject matter. It will also help to pay more attention to these kinds of students, offering them more of their time.
Traditional method of teaching, commonly lecture discussions, practice works and others have its own advantages such as being uniform and consistent, however, due to the differences in the learning ability and adaptability of every student (that is recognized by every teacher) flexibility is also needed, one thing that traditional method lacks. On the other, differentiated instruction take into consideration that every student are different and have different learning abilities, thus, making appropriate actions to fill in the gap of those who are left behind.
The use of differentiated instruction involves the clarification of key concepts to ensure that all students are gaining powerful understanding that will serve as their foundation for future learning. Assessment tools are also used before, during and as well as after the given learning activity that does not necessarily mean a written examination. Also, the goal of differentiated instruction is to provide critical and creative activities to ensure understanding on the part of every student. It also takes into account that every learners, although different are essential and thus striving to meet the needs of every students.
Differentiated instruction also helps in creating a balance student-selected and teacher-assigned task. These characteristics enable differentiated instruction to be more effective that traditional teaching methods. Differentiated instruction is also flexible to meet the needs of other students to maximize their potential and learning. Thus, it can be said that differentiated instruction indeed is needed in the contemporary time. It was said that differentiated instruction is a compilation of many theories and practice in the field of learning thus, providing a greater understanding of the needs of every student.
It is based on years of studies and researches and as well ass educational theories and concept such as the concept of readiness. Researches from the 1980’s up to the contemporary time also shows that practices such as grouping of students and engaging learners are really effective in the learning of students. We may have been used to the traditional method of teaching, i. e. board lectures and the likes; however this method may not be suitable in the contemporary time. What we need today is not set of rules and activities.
The needs of every student’s changes along with time and traditional methods may not just work in every situation. Maximizing learning and understanding is the main purpose of every teacher and if that would mean acquiring new methods then, there is nothing wrong in doing so. Thus, differentiation must be encouraged in every learning institution for the betterment of the present and the generations to come. Changes are part of our everyday life and there are times that we must embrace those changes, such as differentiated instruction, in order to achieve greater heights.