Advancing Differentiation  

January 23, 2014
I have recently read Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century by Richard Cash, which was purchased for all High Ability Learner (HAL) Coordinators in the ESU 10 HAL Consortium and is available for check-out from the ESU 10 HAL.

This book provides a road map for creating differentiated units of study from the ground up, includes extensive information on the educational implications of brain research, and details many research-based instructional strategies. It is also a great resource for anyone who wants to increase motivation and engagement in students, increase the level of rigor in the curriculum, and challenge all students to reach their full potential. There are many easy-to-implement strategies and great ideas for stretching student thinking and learning.

Advancing Differentiation was divided into two sections. Part one addressed the theory, base-level knowledge, brain research, and preconditions for implementing differentiation. This included:
     •Dispelling the myths of differentiated instruction
     •Defining the essentials of a differentiated classroom
     •Identifying the hallmarks of a rigorous curriculum
     •Describing strategies for motivating and engaging learners
     •Developing student self-regulation

Part two addressed the application of the theory, including:
     •Strategies to improve student thinking
     •Critical thinking strategies and activities
     •Creative thinking strategies and activities
     •Problem solving strategies
     •Examples of the above strategies being used in a variety of grade levels and subject areas

In order for teachers to gain skill and expertise in creating and implementing a differentiated curriculum, the school leader must make doing so a priority through allocating ample resources, including training for teachers to learn how to differentiate proactively, and allotting professional time for teachers to create differentiated units of study.

-by Emily Jameson, Professional Development Coordinator

Cash, R. (2011). Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing, Inc.