Digging Deeper With Differentiation  

April 09, 2012

The cutting edge of education is incorporating Differentiated Instruction (DI) to meet the needs of 21st Century Learners. Sir Ken Robinson, in his TED YouTube production Bring On the Learning Revolution! calls for an education revolution where educators move their teaching practices in line with the needs of students today.

The 21st Century Learner requires a different type of education to meet their needs and to equip them for their future. Today's students no longer respond to 30-minute lectures, worksheets, and uniform instructional methods. The modern student thrives in utilizing multi tasking, networking, multi-functional devices, all facets of technology, and highly engaging entertainment. The traditional method of the assembly-line, production-linebased education is no longer effective.

Student teachers coming out of colleges today are being taught to differentiate lesson plans during undergraduate classes and teaching experiences. These methods and philosophies are being used and implemented by young teachers; however, teachers who graduated 5, 10, or 20 years ago have not been equipped with the same mind-set, tools, and training. Too many times, experienced teachers are missing out on or are confused about the essential elements of differentiation that are
desperately needed with the current student population.

Roxanne Whiting and Carol Keiser have co-taught a classroom that has included students of varying abilities, and it is an on-going challenge to reach each student and offer individualized opportunities to develop mastery of the classroom content and critical thinking skills. Differentiated instruction has provided both of them and all of their students the opportunity to engage in the learning process by better understanding how each person moves through that process. They have implemented clear learning objectives, multiple intelligence surveys, tiered learning groups, and leveled methods of questioning. In addition, they have provided information, data driven instruction, and differentiated the process by which students demonstrate their understanding of the concepts. Differentiated instruction has become such a focus in education and has been so successful for the students in their co-taught classroom that Roxanne, Carol, and their administrator, Teresa Messersmith, believe the DI mind-set should become the basis for an education revolution throughout central Nebraska.

Teachers must be equipped to challenge the students individually and variably to meet the wide variety of learning styles and levels of thinking. After receiving the John Russell Applegate grant to attend an DI Intensive Institute in Orlando, Florida with nationally renowned educators, Roxanne, Carol and Teresa are excited to share the differentiated mind-set, practical tools, and everyday strategies in an engaging, interactive workshop titled, Digging Deeper With Differentiation In The 21st Century Classroom. This workshop will be held at ESU 10 on Monday, June 25, 2012 and will incorporate DI philosophies, tools, and examples to meet the tremendous need of teachers trying to effectively reach the students of today. Don't wait - register on ODIE today!