The game of teaching is evolving by the day with the introduction of new methods of teaching. Differentiated learning is tailoring the dissemination of knowledge to suit each learner need. Differentiated learning is fast becoming one of the popular methods of imparting information. Let us understand why differentiated learning gaining momentum as a preferred learning method. 

There are many advantages of differentiated learning. 

Content: Content is the king! For any learning objective, the content is standard. And if it is for an academic course, it’s almost fixed. However, how the content is disseminated can be the differentiator. The content can be aligned to Bloom’s taxonomy, it could be aligned to learners preferred style, or it could be aligned to the learners’ ability. 

Well presented content increases interest in the topic resulting in greater engagement, retention and desired learning outcome. 

Examples of differentiated learning content are: 

  1. Staging a play to understand the nuances of characters. 
  2. Giving summary and encouraging the learners to build the concept. 
  3. Teaching a science concept and asking learners to a model based on the concept. 
  4. Sharing PowerPoint presentations. 
  5. Presenting content in the form of a video. 

Process: Every learner has a preferred learning style. Differentiated learning to be successful will need to include material aligned with each of the learning styles viz. visual, auditory, kinesthetic and verbal. The process should cater to all levels of learners right from those who are self-learner to those who might need one on one support for learning. The teacher should give a lot of thought to designing the process to enhance student learning. The support offered should be based on individual needs. 

Examples of processes that are aligned to differentiate learning are: 

  1. Designing activities with the same learning objectives but having different levels of complexity, challenge, time and support requirement. 
  2. Giving personalized goals to pace the learning speed of each learner. 
  3. Providing the content in the form aligned to the learning style of each learner. An example would be to provide video to the visual learner. 

Product: Product is the learning outcome. A student creates it to demonstrate her level of understanding at the end of the lesson. This can be done through a test, a project, a report or an application. The activity to demonstrate the learning outcome should be based on the learner’s learning style and preferred form of demonstration.  

Examples of differentiated learning products are: 

  1. Writing a book report 
  2. Creating a graphic presentation 
  3. Building a model. 
  4. Presenting a skit/ play.
  5. Giving learners an option to demonstrate learning outcomes in any form of their preference, examples could be writing an essay, making a paper/clay model, writing a poem, etc.  

Learning environment: A conducive learning environment is an essential aspect of a classroom that can greatly impact the learning outcome. Differentiation in the learning environment can be brought about by creating a flexible classroom. The classroom needs to cater to both physical and psychological elements to cater to optimal learning. Catering to physical elements is easier.  

  1. It can be achieved by creative use of spaces where learners can work quietly as well as collaborate on some topics.  
  2. The furniture itself can be made ergonomic and provide warmth. 

The psychological element can be brought in by classroom management techniques like having a routine where all students get help when they require it, building a culture of safe and supportive learning, helping students understand the different styles of learning that each learner may have, etc. 

Examples of learning environment that aid differentiated learning are: 

  1. Seat students in groups with similar learning styles or different learning abilities so that they can help each other. 
  2. Create a safe environment to make mistakes and not be ridiculed for those mistakes. 
  3. Conduct some classes in an open area under a tree if possible. 
  4. Have flexible seating with corners for quiet learning, activity, group learning and paired learning.

Differentiated learning has some drawbacks too. The biggest drawback of differentiated learning is the prep time required to plan the lesson. The success of differentiated learning depends entirely on the detailed planning of the lesson including the process and the activities, method and learning aids to be used to impart the knowledge. 

It is also observed that the learning curve could be steep for differentiated learning. Many schools may not have the resources for professional development with such a steep learning curve. 

And finally, it is still to be known if the prep time justifies the benefits of differentiated learning. 

However, as a teacher, you should try differentiated learning to bring new energy into your classroom. 

Are you ready to differentiate learning? 


Read Next
blog thumbnail
17th March, 2022 by Indic Education
5 Ideas for formative assessment that can improve learning

Remember the anxiety and stress of tests? Assessments are an integral part of education. But if they read more...

blog thumbnail
25th March, 2022 by Indic Education
Understanding Child Psychology

As an educator, the primary task before you is to know your students and their psychology. In fact, read more...

blog thumbnail
5th August, 2022 by Indic Education
Top 10 things teachers can do to upgrade teaching skills

Teaching is a profession where not everything comes easy enough as the job description. It is a much read more...

blog thumbnail
1st March, 2022 by Indic Education
Approaches to Planning Forward, Central and Backward design

Well planned lessons ensure that time and resources aren’t wasted and that students progress as th read more...