In today’s classroom, teachers encounter students, all with their own learning styles, cultures, abilities and disabilities, family dynamics, and more. As education has evolved, it has become clear that a “one size fits all” model of learning does not benefit students. Differentiated instruction is the practice of considering each child’s unique developmental, cognitive and cultural needs in order to create individualized learning plans. These individualized learning plans use different materials, technologies and even performance expectations, depending on each child’s needs.
Teachers earning a Master of Science in Education in Curriculum and Instruction degree online will learn how to modify content and classroom design to create appropriate learning opportunities for each student.
Assessments Are Essential Components of Differentiated Instruction
Conducting assessments of each child is an essential component of differentiated instruction. Because instruction methods may shift based on a child’s academic ability, it is crucial for educators to track how a child is processing new information. This happens through pre-assessment — before a child has been exposed to learning materials — as well as ongoing assessment throughout the learning process. Assessments may take on a variety of forms, from quizzes to teacher observation, and they are essential for teachers when determining each child’s instruction strategy.
Teachers Adjust Methods Based on How Students Learn
Differentiated instruction allows teachers the flexibility to accommodate each student’s needs. After a pre-assessment to determine how much of the material a student already knows, the teacher can choose a method that will best fit the student’s learning style. For example, some children absorb new information by reading, while others retain information by listening to a recording.
Students Create Final Products Based on Their Own Educational Needs
In a classroom using differentiated instruction, students create products to demonstrate an understanding of educational content. Products may range from written assignments to 3D sculptures to group plays. Teachers will assign products based on the learning style, skill level or learning ability of each student.
When you earn a master’s degree in education online, you will learn how to adjust your classroom, curricula and teaching methods for each student. Because each student presents a unique set of educational needs, differentiated instruction is an important way for teachers to help a wide range of students thrive in the classroom.