Paper Example on Philosophy of Differentiation for Effective Teaching

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University of Richmond
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Differentiation instruction also referred to as differentiated learning is a philosophy for effective teaching that consists of providing students with different avenues to learning often in the same class. This is in terms of acquiring content, processing and getting the meaning of ideas and constructing teaching materials so that all student within a specific class get to learn and effectively not paying attention to their different abilities. The idea of differentiating instruction to accommodate the different ways that students learn involves a hefty dose of common sense, as well as sturdy support in the theory and research of education (Tomlinson & Allan, 2000). It is an approach to teaching that advocates active planning for student differences in classrooms. Students in a class are different in terms of culture, the language they speak, gender, ability or disability and their interests.

Teachers need to be aware of the students differences before they prepare a curriculum. By considering the students abilities, the teacher can develop personalized instructions so the students can be able to learn effectively. The classrooms on the differentiation have been termed as the ones that respond to students ways in interest and learning outlines. A teacher set out the different expectation for task completion for students based on their respective needs. (Tomlinson, p. 6)

Key Elements of Differentiated Instruction

At the core of any classroom practice of differentiation is the modification of curriculum elements content, process, product and affect which are based on three categories of student want. They include readiness, interest and learning profile


It entails the Knowledge and understanding that students need to learn. The content of lesson must be differentiated considering what the students are aware of. The most basic content of the lessons should cover the standard of learning as set out by the state. During differentiation, the emphasis is on methods students use to access key content such as personalized and partner reading, text with images, group demonstrations and mall group instruction rather than a change in the content itself. Students vary in their understanding. Some students may have no clue on the concepts of a class while others may have partial understanding in the content while other may have understanding of the content before even the lessons commence. (Gregory, p. 12)

When teachers differentiate content of a class. They adapt what they wat students to learn and understand. In this cases, the teachers are not varying the objective of the student or diminishing their performance. They tend to use different books in reading for each and every individual student. They can also have groups that are flexible and have them assigned to listening in those groups and accessing specific internet sources. Understanding by Design is a strategy used to display content in a class that has been differentiated.


This involves how students get to grasp and understand a given content. It can also be said as activities. The process by which the content to be learned can be differentiated based on the learning styles and the set performance needed for each level. This stage allows students to get to learn about which method is easier for them to understand and get what challenges them. this can be broken down in the fact that some students may consider listening others may consider reading while others may consider getting knowledge from working with objects in the study. Many teachers prefer the use of multiple intelligence in providing understanding to the students

Anderson mentions I his book that, differentiating by process refers to how a student comes to understand and assimilate facts, concepts, and skills. At the end of a lesson, the teacher may divide the class according to their level of readiness and then give the questions according to their level of understanding in relation to the aims of the lesson. The teacher could also group the students depending on the method of learning the student prefers. The main concern in this is that students have different abilities and using the same method cannot bring good impact on their understanding.


This is concerned on how student exhibit what they learned and understood at the end of the lesson. The product is not generated from a single lesson or an activity but it is a rich closing assessment in which use to apply what they have learned over a period of time. Based on the students knowledge and understanding, the teacher may request the students to complete activities that can show their level of understanding of a particular concept in the educational field in a method the student prefers. The result is an impotent model of differentiation as the assessment determines the what was delivered and how it was delivered.

Differentiation by-product is used by an educator helps the students demonstrate from the lesson it is done by use of menu sheets, choice boards, and open-ended lists.


How students link thought and feeling in the classroom. Students emotions and feelings are created from the brain considering their past experiences and reaction to current situations experiences. When a student has a positive effect concerning learning, it brings about academic growth. A student negative attitude regarding learning or himself or herself as learner reduces the academic growth. Teacher therefore not only observes the behavior of the students they learn the affect and guide them in a positive way.

Learning environment

Differentiating the learning through the environment creates a good setting for learning. According to Tomlinson (2003), "Environment will support or deter the student's quest for affirmation, contribution, power, purpose, and challenge in the classroom," (p. 37). The environment in=s the layout of the class and the ay the educator use the space and also the sensitivities such as lighting. The main aim of the teacher is to create a positive and structured environment for the students it should be flexible with different kinds of furniture and areas for private and group study. The teachers are aware of the various methods the surrounding supports the learning of the students.


This is the students closeness to particular knowledge and understanding. For students to gain academic growth, they must work in line with duties that are strongly focused on the knowledge and understanding and are a little bit difficult as compared to their current readiness. They ned to have a supportive system in form of teachers and the fellow students who will help the overcome this particular difficulty and pass the duties on a more advanced level of readiness. (Tomlinson, p. 10)


This refers to what engages the students curiosity attention and gets them involved. Student interest is tied directly to student motivation to learn (Collins & Amabile, 1999). When the interest of the students is engaged, it results to increase their level of motivation and it pushes the learning process

Learning profile

This is the preference in exploring and expressing the content. The learning profile is made up of four elements Learning style is the preferred approach for learning. They involve working with a partner in a silent room or with music or dark or bright room. Intelligence preference is neurologically shaped preferences of learning. They include nonverbal language, mathematical, analytical, creative or practical work. Gender is another approach which brings out learning shaped genetically or socially for both males and females. Not all men and women actually learn at the same speed and therefore there are learning patterns based on gender preferences which progressively enhance the understanding in ways in which gender and learning are interconnected. The last approach is culture. It shows that learning can be shaped by the setting that the person lives and how they make their lives. It is beneficial for students to learn approaches that in turn reflect a range of culture-based learning. The teacher should study the different culture of the students so as to achieve a more multidimensional understanding of the connection culture has on learning. (Delpit, 1995)

Curriculum and differentiation

On the way of envisioning is to think of it as the way teachers plan to teach and what they want the students to learn and understand. National Research Council 2000 suggested that curriculum should have fundamental attributes it should have clear goals of what student are expected to know, understand and be able to do as the result of any segment of learning. It should also affect student understanding of impotent content. it should also involve the students in the learning process.



Gregory, G. H. (August 18, 2006). Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn't Fit All (2nd Edition ed.). New York: Corwin.

Tomlinson, C. A. (February 2003). Differentiation in Practice: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.

Tomlinson, C. A. (September 5, 2013). Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom. Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development. 

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