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Differentiated instruction, curriculum, assessment

Differentiation Teaching, Learning, Instruction and
Response to Intervention (RtI )

The diversity of students in our classrooms is increasing; the need to shape curriculum and instruction to maximize learning for all students more urgent than ever.  Educators are searching for methods that will allow us to accommodate the learning needs of all our students so that all are challenged, but not overwhelmed, by the learning process.   Many of these methods are incorporated in the general approach of differentiated instruction.   Differentiation is an umbrella concept that incorporates many effective traditional methods and strategies as well as merging many aspects of critical thinking, brain research, interdisciplinary instruction, and constructivism.    Its roots are in gifted and special education but it has been developed as a means of accommodating the range of readiness levels, learning styles and interests of heterogeneous schools and classrooms.  The overlap between Differentiation and Response to Intervention is of increasing importance to school districts.

Differentiation Programming


What it is...
...What it isn't

• Providing multiple assignments within each unit, tailored for students of different levels of achievement.

• Allowing students to choose, with the teacher's guidance, ways to learn and how to demonstrate what they have learned.

• Permitting students to opt out of material they already know and progress at their own pace through new material.

• Structuring class assignments so they require high levels of critical thinking but permit a range of responses.

• Having high expectations for all students.

• Creating learning centers with activities geared to different learning styles, readiness and levels of interest.

• Providing students with opportunities to explore topics in which they have strong interest and find personal meaning.

• Assigning more work at the same level to high-achieving students.

• Requiring students to teach material they have mastered to others who have not mastered it.

• Giving all students the same work most of the time.

• Grouping students into cooperative learning groups that do not provide for individual accountability or do not focus on work that is new to all students.

• Focusing on student weaknesses and ignoring student strengths.

• Using only the differences in student responses to the same class assignment to provide differentiation

Copyright of Dr. Susan Allan