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Four Key Questions on Differentiating Instruction

Dr. Joni M. Lakin
Written By Dr. Joni M. Lakin
On Oct 17, 2019
2 minute read

Differentiating instruction has been a topic of conversation among educational researchers and educators alike in recent years. But what is true differentiated instruction, and how can teachers and administrators go about it in the best way?

Here are answers to some key questions about the topic.

1. Is differentiation the latest educational fad?

Differentiation has always been part of U.S. public education, going back to the one-room schoolhouse. But now it is receiving renewed attention that threatens to overwhelm teachers with untenable demands to tailor each lesson to each student. Effective differentiation of curriculum is an art of finding a balance between what works for most students and creating more than one entry point or path for student learning.

The current “fad” aspect of differentiation in the classroom is when we focus too narrowly on the uniqueness of each student, overlooking how groups of students in the classroom can benefit from similar modifications to the curriculum. Educators’ schedules are more than full with the planning required for their teaching assignments.

To ask them to tailor all classes to each student would be impossible. Yes, every student is unique, but we can keep the task manageable by identifying useful clusters of student needs and classifying the most beneficial ways to differentiate instruction.

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