Differentiated Instruction

Summary

Differentiating instruction means teaching differently, and making that happen in classrooms often departs from traditional habits and practice, and it frequently presents a management challenge. Establishing routines and procedures for organizing resources (classroom space, time and materials, or activities) and implementing changes will be necessary. Stakeholders, administrators, and teachers must clearly identify and articulate how the change process will occur to establish well-managed classrooms and provide support for teachers, students, and parents.

Differentiated professional development may be needed to support teachers as they begin to change how they teach, especially when students are expected to read new and challenging text regardless of subject area or grade level. More guidance may be needed to help teachers when they are selecting or adjusting materials and activities to support small-group lessons, collaborative practice, and independent practice.

Differentiating instruction is possible, and changing how we teach and how students practice leads to improved outcomes. The practical suggestions provided in this article provide directive steps toward change. Teachers using these suggestions report they experience an immediate decrease in behavioral problems, see an increase in student performance because more assignments are completed correctly, and have more time to focus on teaching—so let the changes begin. Additional resources for differentiated instruction and professional development, including the training manual Differentiating Instruction: Guidelines for Implementation, are available on the Gibson Hasbrouck & Associates website.

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