Academic journal article Childhood Education

Differentiated Instruction

Academic journal article Childhood Education

Differentiated Instruction

Article excerpt

During the 1900s, educators talked about individualizing instruction. In the 21st century, the politically correct term is "differentiated instruction." Differentiated instruction should be implemented in a way that does not change what is taught but rather changes how it is taught. The strengths of each individual student should be used to develop instruction, along with considerations for each child's unique cultural, familial, and personal characteristics. The following articles were selected for review because they describe unique ways of implementing differentiated instruction. A wide range of articles are presented. Some address differentiated instruction at the microlevel (within individual classrooms). Others consider differentiated instruction from a macro-perspective. They suggest that differentiated instruction is dependent upon larger structures, such as school systems, or what William Tate calls the "geography of opportunity." Ali of the articles presented here were jointly reviewed by me, Kay Emfinger, and Ricky K. Aman.--JA

MAKING IT WORK: Differentiating Tier Two Self-Regulated Strategies Development in Writing in Tandem With Schoolwide Positive Behavioral Support. Sandmel, K., Brindle, M., Harris, K., Lane, K., Graham, S., Nackel, J., Mathias, R., & Little, A., Teaching Exceptional Children, 2009, 42(2), 22-35. Self-regulated strategies development (SRSD) for writing, implemented simultaneously with a positive behavioral support (PBS) program, was used to "improve the quality, length, and use of genre-specific elements in ... essays and stories" (p. 32) of 2nd-grade students. These 2nd-graders needed differentiated instruction to improve their writing and support appropriate classroom behaviors. Three specific case studies were provided as examples of how SRSD and PBS strategies were adapted for selected students. Specifically, instruction was differentiated in the areas of "content, process, and products" (p. 22). What was to be learned (content) was modified through use of materials or modifying what content students were to learn. Different activities were used to address process. Finally, products were addressed by individualizing how students could demonstrate what they had learned.

The authors also provide background information about the effectiveness of SRSD. After making a convincing case for the use of SRSD as an evidence-based approach, they describe how it can be used to "improve students' strategic behavior, knowledge, self-efficacy, and motivation" (p. 24), particularly as it relates to writing instruction. Finally, the cases show how SRSD can be implemented along with positive behavioral supports. This piece is a "must read" for any teacher seeking to implement differentiated instruction in writing. It would be helpful however, if the reader had some background knowledge of SRSD and PBS programs before reading the article.

A COLLABORATIVE PLANNING FRAMEWORK FOR TEACHERS IMPLEMENTING TIERED INSTRUCTION. Stuart, S., & Rinaldi, C., Teaching Exceptional Children, 2009, 42(2), 52-63. Differentiated instruction has changed since the regulations of the Individuals With Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA, 2004) were authorized. School-wide interventions are recommended, along with "response to intervention (RTI)" (p. 52). Currently, many schools are using a three-tiered system "that addresses the academic needs of all students by using evidence-based instructional practice, progress monitoring, and data-informed instructional problem solving" (p. 52). The authors encourage teachers to use a collaborative model in implementing a multi-tiered system of differentiated instruction.

The model includes three phases: "planning, execution, and feedback" (p. 53). Specific suggestions are given for each phase. For example, during the planning phase, grade level teams are expected to seek evidence-based interventions, evaluate the curriculum, and identify students who are in need of services. …

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