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Differentiated Instruction Teaching Learners with Varying Abilities - Research Paper Example

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This paper "Differentiated Instruction Teaching Learners with Varying Abilities" focuses on the fact that four key principles make differentiated instruction recognizable. The model operates under the assumption that teachers and children of all categories and types can learn. …
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Differentiated Instruction Teaching Learners with Varying Abilities
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Download file to see previous pages Teachers who adopt differentiated instruction often give children choices. They are flexible in the way they deliver content and exhibit creativity within the classroom. Availability of choice is only possible through an understanding of the knowledge that is needed to complete tasks. The educator must combine this knowledge with the children’s ability to develop and process skills and concepts. Catering to the needs of students with divergent abilities is at the heart of this teaching strategy. Historical summary of literature Differentiated instruction is nothing new in teaching circles. It has been in practice from as far back as the 1970s. However, at the time, educators that implemented the model had not identified a universal name for it. They were simply catering to the needs of their students. Therefore, the literature on the subject during this decade mostly focuses on the learning theories that support differentiated instruction. Some educational theorists wrote a lot about the need for differentiated instruction. One such individual was Lev Vygotsky, who established the zone of proximal development theory (Logan, 2012). It was his work that formed some of the theoretical foundations of this teaching practice today. Vygotsky, in 1978, states that every learner has a zone of proximal development. At this level, the child will experience learning in a manner that is challenging but not too difficult for the child. An educator who meets the child at their zone of proximal development will promote teaching in the most effective way. They will provide instruction in a context that matches the readiness level of the child. Writers in the subsequent decade also examined the plausibility of differentiated instruction. Some looked at its effects while others counterbalanced this with a number of arguments. In 1987, Slavin highlighted the dangers of grouping students according to their ability. He studied analyses done in various schools and found that regrouping of math students led to poorer achievement in schools that maintained the practice. The debate over differentiated teaching was just picking up momentum in the 1980s. During the 1990s, most literature on the subject revolved around proving that differentiated instruction can work. Sternberg and Grigorenko carried out a study to assess the impact of differentiated instruction in 1999. The investigators used students’ grade performance to determine whether this teaching model was effective. In order to sufficiently assess whether differentiated instruction had taken place, they looked at whether teachers attempted to match thinking styles with content. The two authors explained that a student could belong to one of three thinking styles. They could be practical thinkers who thrive in active-forms of delivery. Alternatively, creative thinkers require a different approach because they tend to look for hidden meanings. Thirdly, a student could be an analytical thinker who can find solutions in a seemingly complex set of variables. Matching instruction to these individuals’ thinking styles is what made the difference in their learning outcomes (Watts-Taffe et. a.l., 2012). One of the most influential theorists in this field is Carol Tomlinson. Differentiated instructions were spreading throughout various schools in the 90s. It was necessary to look at the obstacles to implementation, which this writer studied intensely.     ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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