The following excerpt is from Curriculum Update, by the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD), Winter, 2000 edition:
"Every child is unique. Although we may rejoice in this fact, it poses a dilemma for educators. When students are diverse, teachers can either "teach to the middle" and hope for the best, or they can face the challenge of diversifying their instruction. Today, more and more teachers are choosing the second option. Determined to reach all students, teachers are struggling to tailor their instruction to individual needs. Differentiated instruction is a teaching philosophy based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction to student differences."
A couple of years ago, SVES went through a School Improvement Process. One of the five goals that were selected that year was to work on meeting individual student needs through differentiated instruction. So over the summer of 2008, the teachers at St. Vincent Elementary School did a book study on Carol Ann Tomlinson's book, The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of all Learners. SVES has five copies of the books that we will let parents check out to read if you want to learn more about differentiated instruction. Basically there are three areas that a teacher can adapt to best meet a student's learning style, interests or needs. A teacher can change the content, the process or the product.
An example of differentiated instruction could look like this:
Content: Ancient Civilization in Egypt
Student A: Researches the information and creates a power point or prezi on the topic.
Student B: Builds a dio-rama showing the Fertile Crescent/Pyramid building/etc.
Student C: Selects to present an oral report over the topic based on what they have gathered
Student D: Creates a chart showing what is known, what they would like to know, and what they think they know
Student E: Creates an Egyptian headdress or garment and explains the signifigance of the garments, material, etc.
Student F: Constructs a display over several Egyptian Mythology stories.
The opportunities for learning thus become endless, and students select a learning modality that "clicks" with them. When this end "product" is shared with fellow class members, everyone benefits from the differentiated learning.