Differentiated instruction centers on the learners where teachers facilitate teaching-learning activity by grouping individual characters basing on common interests and abilities. For differentiated instruction to yield fruits depending on each learner’s level of readiness, a number of strategies are incorporated. These include tiered assignments, compacting, interest centered/ interest groups, flexible groupings, and learning contracts (Tomlinson, 1999).
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For proper enhancement of the strategies used, some four-classroom elements are considered. These elements are differentiated access (environment of learning), content, process and product. Therefore, teachers incorporate these strategies basing on individual student ability, level of readiness, learning profile, and/or interest to learn.
The differentiated access or learning environment defines the emotional state of a classroom on how it feels and works, differentiated content strives to determine what student ought to learn and how he/she get the relevant information and instructional materials.
While differentiated process defines, relevant activities students should engage in sensibly master the content (Sternberg, Torff, & Grigorenko, 1998). Culminating activities that include projects that involves students in rehearsal, applications and extend of learning a unit is captured in the forth element of differentiated products.
At different students’ level of readiness, a teacher is supposed to prepare a lesson plan of a selected topic of any subject in question of which each level captures the student’s readiness to learn, lying entirely on the above-mentioned strategies. To effectively determine the student’s readiness, a teacher uses diagnostic assessments like pre-test, background knowledge question, easy interpreted charts on what they may be knowing, what they would need to know and even already learned work.
In order to analyze the above-mentioned strategies to determine the student’s readiness, a lesson plan is drawn for grade 8 class covering 50 minutes. The subject considered is Social Studies in the topic of Bill of Rights.
Lesson Plan for Grade 8 Duration of lesson; 50 minutes
Topic; Bill of Rights
|Objectives:||1. Students ought to understand the genesis of Bill of Rights. |
2. Students ought to understand the individual and societal impacts of Bill of Rights.
3. Students should be able to interpret various court cases through Bill of Rights
4. Students should be able to examine the PATRIOT Act 2001 then apply it to Bill of Rights.
|Whole Class Activities ||Assessment |
Guide completion and class discussions.
|Level 1 Activities ||AssessmentFlow chart completion|
|Level 2 Activities ||Assessment |
Completion of interviews and journal analysis
|Level 3 Activities ||Assessment |
Analysis of internet articles and news
|Whole Class Culminating Activities ||Assessment |
Court cases interpretation
Self-reflection by students
Strategies and Learning Outcomes
Tiered assignments as the first strategy are geared to instruct learners on skills which are essential and provided at varied complexity level, open-endedness and abstractness in the content so that the content and objectives remain the same as the product and/or process are varied depending on learners readiness level.
For example, the students with moderate skill of writing are requested to write at least three paragraph essay on the genesis of Bill of Rights using own ideas for argumentative support while the advanced ones asked to research topic in depth using substantive reasoning and argument in supporting the genesis on these Rights (Tomlinson, 1995).
Compacting strategy involves instruction adjustment of prior mastering of the content by the student through three major steps:
- Assessing the individual students to determine his/ her knowledge on the studied material and whatever more is needed for content mastering.
- Making plans on what the student ought to know and ignoring whatever he/she knows already.
- Creation of free-up time specifically to accelerate and enrich study
For example, instead of tasking a student to reproduce the already mastered skill, he is asked to apply it other various sub-topics.
In interest centers preferred for younger learners and interest groups for older ones, groups are set up to address to specific student interest. This allows them to choose a motivating topic thus boosting their performance in understanding. For instance, the grade 8 student can choose to explore the impact of Bill of Rights on their various daily deeds. In this type of strategy, students can choose to work in pairs.
Learning contracts is founded on mutual consent between learners and instructor. Here, the teacher gives the necessary guidelines of skills the students must learn to include the assignment component while the student “on the other hand” suggests methods of their choice to complete the work. This strategy allows students to work at their comfortable pace, develop independence, and implement a particular learning style.
In conclusion, proper planning of differentiated instruction basing on the student’s readiness helps to meet the stipulated objectives in the lesson plan. This is possible by having all students on board irrespective of their learning challenges, abilities and differences.
Sternberg, R. J., Torff, B., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1998). Teaching triarchically improves student achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(3), 374-384.
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Tomlinson, C. (1995). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms.
Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the Needs of all Learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development