“One Size Doesn’t Fit All” by Gayle H. Gregory and Carolyn Chapman provides insight into what differentiation means within a classroom. According to Gregory and Chapman, teachers can use differentiation through content, assessment tools, performance tasks, and strategies of instruction.
First, differentiating content can be achieved through the option of choice for students. As an example, when considering a lesson on communication and using oral language to express information to others (informal or formal), allowing students to choose their own topic for a presentation would be considered differentiation. This allows students to discover their own personal interests and areas of passion, which can potentially foster a more effective learning experience for each individual.
Second, differentiating assessment tools can include using different informal and formal tools of assessment before, during, and after learning. For example, during a particular unit, a teacher may ask students to demonstrate their personal learning up to that point. This can provide teachers with an idea of the knowledge base that the students possess, and then move on from there.
Third, differentiation in performance tasks refers to students using different methods as a way to show what they know. For example, by allowing students to choose from a list of options such as a quiz, an informal essay, or a presentation, it is more likely that students will find some enjoyment and meaning in their learning experience.
Finally, differentiation in instructional strategies can include a teacher offering different methods of learning for students such as using technology, introducing experiments, group work, etc.
In a perfect world, differentiation would be clear in presence in the classroom. However, I do think there are some challenges. Teachers are often faced with a lack of time, resources, and support. In trying to achieve complete differentiation for students, the planning of lessons would require more effort, thorough thought, and individualization.