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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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?