No More ‘One Size Fits All’!

Differentiation of curriculum is a big focus in our Professional Development this year in the Elementary School.  Our teachers are talking lots about getting to know all our students and the different ways in which they learn.

In the Learning Support Team all of our Teaching Assistants and Educational Assistants are beginning monthly in-service training on differentiation and differentiated instruction.

On this page you will find a number of websites where differentiation is discussed and defined.

http://www.kidsource.com/kidsource/content/diff_instruction.html This site contains information written by Carol Tomilson (sometimes referred to a the ‘guru’ of differentiation!)  The content is directed at Middle School but it is still relevent.  It is written for teachers but is useful for parents to get their head around the concept and the vocabulary.

In the Eric Digest article, Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades Carol Ann Tomlinson writes,

” At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction.”  She goes on to explain that, “In most elementary classrooms, some students struggle with learning, others perform well beyond grade-level expectations, and the rest fit somewhere in between. Within each of these categories of students, individuals also learn in a variety of ways and have different interests. To meet the needs of a diverse student population, many teachers differentiate instruction.”

What can parents do?  Familiarise yourself with the concept of differentiated instruction and get to know the teachign methods used in your child’s classroom. Observe your child to see if you can determine whether or not they seem to grasp materials better verbally, visually, interactively, etc., and finally, share those observation and concerns with your child’s teacher.  Ask how material is generally presented to the class and how it is differentiated for your child. For student’s in the Learning Support Program, differentiated methods of instruction may for part of their Learning Support Plan.