Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction

Tomlinson, Carol Ann. “Mapping a Route Toward Differentiated Instruction.” Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from: http://www.learner.org/workshops/socialstudies/pdf/session5/5.MappingARoute.pdf


Carol Ann Tomlinson is a leader in the movement towards differentiated instruction and in this article she points out how many people may think they're differentiating, but they're not doing it effectively. She starts by describing two different classrooms. One classroom is very traditional, while the other appears to be very engaging and differentiated. Both are covering the same unit. Tomlinson then analyzes the two classrooms and there are clear flaws with both of them. The first classroom is very clear, but no differentiation is used, while the second class may be engaging but has no focus or direction. A mixture of the two is necessary for success and she offers an alternative approach by showcasing a third class and detailing how improvements in differentiation are made.


"Is it reasonable to expect all 2nd graders to learn the same thing, in the same ways, over the same time span?"

"We have to know where we want to end up before we start out—and plan to get there. That is, we must have solid curriculum and instruction in place before we differentiate them. That’s harder than it seems."

"Successful teaching requires two elements: student understanding and student engagement. In other words, students must really understand, or make sense of, what they have studied. They should also feel engaged in or “hooked by” the ways that they have learned. The latter can greatly enhance the former and can help young people realize that learning is satisfying."

"...differentiated instruction must dignify each learner with learning that is “whole,” important, and meaning making. The core of what the students learn remains relatively steady. How the student learns—including degree of difficulty, working arrangements, modes of expression,
and sorts of scaffolding—may vary considerably."

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