Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Differentiated Instruction

A blog entry contributed by Toni Capodanno, our new Supervisor of Curriculum and Instruction:

Over the summer break, our 6th grade teachers continued their participation in training on Differentiated Instruction. In support of our district-wide Strategic Plan, select teachers attended a national workshop held in Chicago where the concept and strategies for differentiating instruction in classrooms were introduced and modeled. The conference was a “train the trainer” event, and the participants learned ways that content, instructional strategies, student activities, performance tasks and assessment tools can and should reflect learning styles and individual needs of students. These strategies were brought back to Woodbury and shared with the entire 6th grade team of teachers during local summer sessions.

There has been a year-long focus on professional development around the topic of Differentiated Instruction targeting our 6th grade faculty. Ultimately, all of our district schools will receive training in Differentiated Instruction through grade level meetings and professional development as we continually strive to provide the highest level of academic rigor and support for all our students and close achievement gaps.


Deneen said...

My nephew is in 6th grade this year. I'll be interested to see how this approach helps him and his peers succeed in school this year.

Can you explain what differentiates this method of teaching from methods of the past?


Joseph Jones said...

Thanks for the comment. It will be good to hear reports back from our parents and the students themselves. This is sure to be part of our assessment process.

The following gives a quick summary of differentiated instruction from a web-site associated with the group that performed the training for our teachers:

"Differentiated Instruction is an instructional concept that maximizes learning for ALL students—regardless of skill level or background. It's based on the fact that in a typical classroom, students vary in their academic abilities, learning styles, personalities, interests, background knowledge and experiences, and levels of motivation for learning.

When a teacher differentiates instruction, he or she uses the best teaching practices and strategies to create different pathways that respond to the needs of diverse learners."

Note -- it is not necessarily the use of "new" methods. Much of what is recommended is the use of proven methods that teachers have used for years. The concept is one that mixes and matches teacher choices with the unique learners in the class.