What is differentiation?
Differentiation in the classroom takes place when teachers recognize the differences in students and respond to them with learning experiences matched to individual and/or grouped student needs. This approach starkly differs from methods that employ a one-size-fits-all curriculum. Differentiation has come to be considered an essential skill for any teacher, especially given the prevalence of mixed-ability classrooms. How can teachers make effective use of modern tools to achieve differentiated instruction?
Today’s classroom is becoming increasingly more diverse. Changes in society make the ability to tailor teaching more important than ever. Prevalent literature recognizes that teachers can differentiate in at least four ways based on student differences:
- Content: what information the student needs to learn
- Process: the activities from the teacher that engage the student in learning
- Product: the outcome of student learning that demonstrates understanding or proficiency of a strand
- Environment: how the learning environment looks and operates
Using technology to create individual learning pathways
Differentiation is seen as time-consuming and stressful. Fortunately, technology can facilitate the link between student and teacher with adaptive tools that are customized to student needs.
- Differentiating content online and creating a learning experience tailored to individual students and/or groups. By having access to tailored content, students are paced through their learning experience and only progress when understanding occurs. Doing so in an online environment can help mitigate feelings of inadequacy from working at a different grade level, which becomes important in mixed-grade classrooms.
- Access to immediate feedback contributes to the creation of individual learning pathways. When students immediately see where they went wrong, they are able to individually address learning gaps in the moment. This contributes to increased confidence in their abilities.
- Having access to detailed student data by activity and strand is a powerful tool. It enables teachers to easily identify learning gaps, making for more time and content-efficient teaching. Teachers and students both benefit from the identification of group strengths and weaknesses, which also contributes to a harmonious and inclusive learning environment.
Creating differentiated groups in Mathletics
The Teacher Console enables you to create differentiated groups. In the Classes area you can move your students between classes, as well as divide them into a number of learning groups, allowing you to assign different curriculum levels to specific groups of students.
Click HERE to view a FREE guide covering Mathletics groups.
Do you differentiate in your classroom? Which methods have you used? Let us know in the comment section below or contact Liz Coffey (firstname.lastname@example.org) for a chance to be featured on the Mathletics blog!