|At the beginning of each school year, a new group of students eagerly enters your classroom, each different in some way. Many of them are different in how they learn and your goal is to understand how to teach them over the coming months.
Acknowledging the various ways students learn means you must consider the various ways you teach. These considerations embody the various components of differentiation. By definition, differentiation is "an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for and attention to student differences in classrooms, in the context of high quality curriculums" (Tomlinson, 2013). By doing so, you enable students to achieve at their highest level because you use teaching styles that incorporate the way they learn.
Differentiation includes exploring the three instructional aspects of content, process, and product. Content refers to the "what" of your instruction or the concepts to be taught. Process is the "how" of your instructional delivery and the way students will interact with the content being presented. Product is the "result" or how your students will demonstrate what they have learned. Decisions for each of these aspects can and should be based on a student's readiness, interest, and/or learning profile.
As you begin your journey into differentiating instruction, the intent is not to differentiate every instructional aspect at once, but to determine and implement the aspect that will prove to be the most beneficial to your students at a given time. To learn more about differentiation and how you can begin on this journey towards establishing a differentiated classroom, consider the following resources available in the
TTAC at VCU library
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Wormeli, R. (2007). Differentiation: From planning to practice, grades 6-12. Portland, Me.: Stenhouse.