In Chapter One of How to Differentiate instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (Tomlinson 2001) many key points were made. The points that interested me the most were differentiated instruction involves ongoing assessment, flexible grouping, and students and teachers learning together.
I believe it is important for students and teachers to learn together, as this shows an equal commitment between the two. I further believe students appreciate, respect and value teachers who can share in learning with them. As stated by Tomlinson (2001), “In a differentiated classroom, teaching is evolutionary. Students and teachers are learners together (p.5).” There are many things that we can learn from our students and many things students can learn from each other.
Assessment is a big part of education and it’s important to remember in a differentiated classroom it needs to be continual. According to Robb (2002), assessments help identify students’ strengths and areas of need so teachers can meet the educational needs of their students.
In a differentiated classroom grouping needs to be flexible. Students enjoy collaborating and creating with their peers and it’s important that the grouping of students changes as needed. As stated by Tomlinson (2000), “Flexible grouping allows students to see themselves in a variety of contexts.” Flexible grouping allows students to work with a variety of ability levels and skills. Allowing students to work with a variety of peers this allows them an opportunity to develop a larger variety of skills, instead of completing the same task repetitively in the same group. As the groups overall skills change, so do the expectations of each individual.
Robb, L. (n.d.). What is differentiated instruction? Retrieved from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/what-differentiated-instruction
Smith, G. E., & Throne, S. (2009). Differentiating instruction with technology in middle school classrooms. International Society for Technology in Education.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2000). What makes differentiated instruction successful? Retrieved from http://www.readingrockets.org/article/what-makes-differentiated-instruction-successful
Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms.