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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in differentiated instruction

Posted by on in Differentiated Instruction

In the past, I’ve written several articles about the myths that prevents many teachers from using Differentiation as an integral part of how they meet learner needs.

They have resonated with educators who comment and share these articles with colleagues. I often hear how the articles empowered or gave teachers permission to do more. Best of all, most express finding affirmation for what they are already doing, which is one intention of these articles: Teachers do differentiate, whether unconsciously or with deliberation.

It’s time to change the focus from the myths to the truths. What are the realities for Differentiation?

There are many. Here is the first:

Differentiation starts with learners.

The standard language for Differentiation was introduced early on by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Susan Allan in books in 1999 and 2001. It’s a language that continues to work today, as I note in So All Can Learn: A Practical Guide to Differentiation.

Learner Relationship1

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Posted by on in Blended Learning

Hiya friends!

I switched to coffee shop style flexible seating in my chemistry classroom, which means that:

  1. Students face each other and not necessarily me or the front of the classroom.
  2. I have to be intentional about building collaboration into my lessons and teaching students to collaborate..
  3. I have to change the way I deliver much of the instruction and look for ways to change my teaching to fit the environment my students and I suddenly found ourselves in.

Today, I decided to let my students "Google It." They already learn this way outside of school, so why not let them inside? I too learn a lot of things by Googling or YouTubing them. If learning this way is something students already do, they can benefit from it, and I can curate it, why not do it?

The new concept to learn was "Isotopes." We did a bell ringer activity to review from the day before and got right into it. Here are the directions I gave:

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Posted by on in What If?

shy student

I hate to admit that, in 36 years as an educational consultant and nine as a radio host responsible for finding topics to explore, I hadn’t given shy children any thought – until I came across a book called Quiet at School: An Educator’s Guide to Shy Children. That’s when it occurred to me that not only do shy children have unique challenges in classrooms; also, those challenges are mostly known only to the children themselves.

And that, of course, is the crux of the matter. If the squeaky wheel gets the grease, the kids with “louder,” more disruptive issues are going to get the teacher’s attention. In the meantime, shy children sit silently struggling.

With that in mind, I invited Quiet at School co-author Robert Coplan to talk with me on Studentcentricity. Educator Melanie Taylor joined us.

We talked about the most common indicators of shyness in children, and how they might look different from early childhood to adolescence. And I asked Rob about the teacher’s natural inclination to encourage children to speak up more and raise their hands to answer questions. Is that actually the way to help shy children succeed in school?

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Posted by on in What If?



When asked how the school year is going, if a teacher responds, “I have mostly boys in this year’s class,” no further explanation is typically required. The message is clear: the teacher has more challenges than usual! But why is that? Are boys just inherently more disruptive? Harder to teach?

WIREDI asked these questions – and more – of Ruth Morhard, author of Wired to Move; Richard Hawley, author of Reaching Boys/Teaching Boys; and early childhood educator Heidi Veal in what turned out to be an insight-filled discussion for Studentcentricity. During it, I discovered, among other things, that boys learn more through their eyes, are less resilient than girls, and are more single-focused than girls -- all of which teachers need to know if they're going to help their male students succeed.

After our conversation, Ruth outlined the problem in this way:

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Posted by on in What If?


The promotion of active learning is a big part of my work. Of course, student-centered learning is too. So it was rather upsetting when I came across Michael Godsey’s article, “When Schools Overlook Introverts,” about the potentially negative impact of active learning on introverts, and realized it had never crossed my mind. That’s why I invited Michael, along with Sophia Dembling, author of The Introvert’s Way, to join me on Studentcentricity to answer the question in the title of this piece.

Following the discussion, Mike contributed these takeaways:

When I visited Grizzly Academy (a boarding school for at-risk students), I was really intrigued by how many of them mentioned how much they liked the quiet spaces and the ability to concentrate. I thought they would all be mourning the loss of their phones, too, but they almost all looked relieved to be rid of them, which I think is related to the desire for a quiet place without interruption. Many of them also mentioned that they had been diagnosed with ADHD/ADD and been prescribed drugs, but they felt much better just being at Grizzly. That made me really wonder about the potential cruelty of overstimulating some students and then blaming and medicated them, rather than fixing the environment. 

I've observed a wide range of schools over the past year or two, and the "mainstream" public schools are, by far, the most energetic, noisy, and social. The private schools and charter schools (both exclusive or for at-risk kids) have environments that are far more conducive to introverted students. I don't exactly know what conclusions to make from this, but the contrast was almost shocking. 

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