The Challenge of Differentiated Instruction

classroom 2I was recently asked for a good source on differentiated instruction.  I replied that ASCD put out some exceptional publications. You can find them at:

My concern with differentiated instruction has always been classroom management, simply put one teacher trying to see to the needs of numerous students.  When each of these students has individual skill gaps, that challenge becomes even more daunting.  No teacher can be expected to handle truly individualized instruction for more than a few students without help.  And individualized instruction is so often needed when students fall behind in math.

In a recent article in Forbes Magazine, Jordan Shapiro explained that differentiation is easy when the teacher is working with an individual student because the teacher can adapt the teaching to fit the student.

“Great teachers adapt their teaching in this way thousands of times a day…for a few of their students. It just isn’t feasible to do it for everyone. No matter one’s intentions, teachers are human, they have limits. Therefore, for a variety of reasons, certain students in a traditional classroom reap the benefits of the instructor’s personalization skills and other students don’t.”

Our recent Math Skill Gaps Study shows conclusively that students identified for math intervention have skill gaps all different grade levels.  In fact, the gaps are so diverse that in most cases individualized instruction is needed to fill gaps quickly and get them back up to grade level.

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