EDU605: Unit VIII – What is Differentiating Instruction w/ mind map exercise

Differentiated instructions are tools that allow an educator to enhance or modify instruction. These tools allow educators to accommodate our students learning styles so that they learn better. Differentiating instruction also allows us to assess our students learning styles so that we can manage the complexity of assignments and the level of leaning that some of our students learn. Educators may modify lesson plans based on their students learning styles, group them assigned to their respective interests, assess their students utilizing formative assessments and always continually assess and adjust lesson plans as needed to keep the learning relevant and fun.  There are several ways to incorporate differentiated instruction.

“Differentiating instruction is individualizing instruction for each learner so that they are learning in a way in which they learn best. Whether it is by their readiness level, interest level, type of intelligence, or learning preferences, students are allowed to complete learning activities that match with their own personal characteristics”. (Tomlinson, 2001).

My combined definition of Differentiated Instruction: Learning from others in an environment, which has zero tolerance for racism, sexism, and violence. DI is a collaborative learning environment which inspires each other to grow academically, while building confidence and Espirit De’ Corps. This means that we as educators must facilitate, instruct, conduct mentoring, coaching, motivate, and inspiring students to learn in atmosphere when learning is enriching, challenging and stimulating which breeds confidence, commitment, and aspires each other to attain educational goals.

My mind map: manny-mind-map-for-di

Here are some different ways I differentiate instruction in my classroom:

1. Learning from your students

2. VAK (Visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners)

3. Properly counseling students; providing feedback to enrich continued learning

4. Problem solving

5. Continually assess students

6. Embrace updated classroom technologies (i.e. SMART board etc.)

7. Collaborative Learning Environment (are the classrooms conducive to collective learning?)

8. Coaching and mentoring program

9. Personal Learning Environments such as these with Post University

10. Keeping Learning Relevant

11. Ensure that Learning is enriching, challenging and FUN

12. Sharing life experiences (Student –> teacher, student –> student and teacher –> student)

13. Working in groups to pair up those with experience and those who have less experience to make each student well rounded

14. Backwards planning to ensure that we as educators have everything we need to facilitate lessons IAW doctrine and institution

15. Reward students for their efforts, whether the answer is correct or wrong. Stimulate each student to contribute.

16. Apply Socratic Questioning to see how students are thinking which allows students to defend their conclusions and build confidence amongst peers.

Differentiation allows us educators to separate ourselves from our peers. Differentiation allows us to be different while we teach, as we are all unique in our ways. no two instructors are the same nor are the teaching styles. We have to be willing to break old habits and open our minds up for new techniques and practices. As education evolves, we have to continuously adapt to the changing environment so that we are giving our students the most relevant learning atmosphere.

Differentiation is also a collaborative effort in that educators, students and parents are supporting each other to inspire the student to want to continue to learn. “Differentiation is simply attending to the learning needs of a particular student or small group of students rather than the more typical pattern of teaching the class as though all individuals in it were basically alike” (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000, p. 4).

“The importance of differentiating instruction for students based on learning styles, but also indicates that learning styles are not stagnant. Most often our learning styles are our preference, but that does not mean we are limited in the way we approach new content and understandings. (Tomlinson, 2001). “The learning styles can be changed over time, and sometimes change on their own or depending on the learning context in a given situation”. (Sternberg & Li-Fang, 2005).

“Differentiating covers the learning styles of students, the ways in which we best access certain subjects or types of materials”. (Sternberg & Li-Fang, 2005).  “Differentiation is an insurmountable task which would require hours upon hours of planning, and need constant attention and revision”. (Joseph, Thomas, Simonette, & Ramsook, 2013).

Gardner, H. (1983). Frames of mind: The theory of multiple intelligences. New York, NY: BasicBooks.

McCarthy, B., & McCarthy, D. (2006). Teaching around the 4MAT cycle: Designing instruction for diverse learners with diverse learning styles. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed-ability classrooms. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

Sternberg, R. J., & Li-Fang, Z. (2005). Styles of thinking as a basis of differentiated instructionTheory Into Practice44(3), 245–253. doi:10.1207/s15430421tip4403_9

Joseph, S., Thomas, M., Simonette, G., & Ramsook, L., 2013. The impact of differentiated instruction in a teacher education setting: Successes and challenges. International Journal of Higher Education, 2(3), 28-40.


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