Differentiated Instruction Made Easy

What are your thoughts on Differentiated Instruction? Is it the vision of teachers running down the hallway screaming “get out of the building, their coming with their DI again?”  Many of the educators I have taught with began to dread differentiated instruction due to the misunderstanding of the practice.  DI has been seen as cumbersome and a burden to lesson planning.  However, underneath it all is a method that in practice can be easily applied and lead to wonderful results. The in-service training  I provide in Student Engagement and Motivation breaks down DI so it becomes an addition to the wonderful lessons that teachers develop.

Applying DI: Modes of Reception

So how can it be easily applied?  First and foremost, a teacher does not need to develop each lesson plan to meet every student’s needs, modes of reception and learning styles.  That is cumbersome! I suggest each lesson plan can include up to 3 of the 5 modes of reception (auditory, visual, kinesthetic, emotional or existential).  Teachers typically have 2 modes of reception in their lessons to begin with so adding another should not cause undue stress.  Actually, doing this can free the teacher to be creative!  The teacher can rotate the modes around each day depending upon the material covered.

Applying DI: Learning Styles

Next, I suggest using the 10 learning styles as outlined in the Revised Blooms Taxonomy (RBT) (logical, verbal, visual, musical, interpersonal, etc). A teacher does not need to incorporate all ten of these styles in a lesson and does not need to pick styles only to boost those students who are struggling.  The teacher only needs to fit in as many learning styles as is feasible for that lesson.  Combs and Dahlgren state that ‘Each and every student will benefit from this approach as they all will have the best chance to utilize their learning strengths and pull from weaker areas to enrich their learning strengths and experience authentic learning success’ (Time To Teach Differentiated Instruction).

Lesson Plan Ingredients

Therefore, a lesson does not need to have all of these ingredients in order to meet each student’s need.  Instead, the teacher has the ability to not only choose what will fit the needs of the students but also to challenge the students to get out of their “comfort zones’ and strengthen their weaker areas.   With this method in mind, teachers are given more freedom in their lesson planning. With this approach, teachers can meet the ultimate goal of helping students to become a more well-rounded learner and be able to meet the demands of the world.