Differentiated Instruction: How can it improve Student Success?

Krithika Venkataramani
Updated on
January 4, 2021

At one point in time, most educators believed that all they had to do was present information to students in a specific way, and students would retain the content and concepts discussed. Today, however, teachers and administrators realise that instruction must be customised to meet the needs of the individual student. When educators make an effort to provide differentiated instruction, they are able to be more effective in the classroom.

What is Differentiated Instruction and Why is it Needed in Today's Diverse Classrooms?

Most teachers are going to be working with a mix of students throughout the year. According to American educator and researcher Carol Ann Tomlinson, today’s classrooms are characterised by the academic diversity of students with varied interests, preferred approaches to learning and different levels of readiness. As such, many students benefit from a variety of teaching styles and the most qualified and experienced teachers differentiate their instruction to meet the needs of every learner in their class.

Tomlinson notes that a student's culture, religion, background and personal experiences can have a significant influence on their ability to learn effectively. When teachers understand this, they are able to personalise the instruction and ensure that every student is as successful as possible.

At One World International School, we have always believed in the importance of differentiated instruction. We personalise the learning experience for all of our students not only because we have a multicultural student body but also because we believe it is the best educational practice. Differentiated instruction is an integral part of what we do and who we are.

What are the Types of Differentiation?

According to Tomlinson's framework, teachers are able to differentiate using four different elements in the classroom. These elements are:

  • Content — Teachers can adjust or adapt the content they are teaching. For instance, they can have books in their classroom at a variety of reading levels. Content can also be presented in different ways using pictures, videos or text depending on a student’s interest and learner profiles.
  • Process — Teachers can provide different experiences for students so that they can select the learning process that works best for them. For instance, teachers can create learning centres that allow students to identify which topics or subjects they enjoy the most.
  • Products — Teachers can ask students to complete projects that include several elements to give them an opportunity to showcase what they have learned. For example, teachers could assign a book report and allow students to complete it by drawing a picture, acting out a scene from the book or writing a small paragraph about a favourite character.
  • Learning Environment — Teachers can design a learning environment that includes spaces for every type of learner. For instance, teachers can include flexible seating for students who prefer to stand, move or sit while working. They can also create quiet corners for reading while still having centres where students can engage in active play.

What Makes Differentiation Successful?

Differentiation is most successful when it is applied at a school that has a rigorous, well-rounded curriculum in place. When a curriculum programme is developed to meet the needs of every student at the school, the teacher will be able to better differentiate instruction for each student in the classroom.

At One World International School, our teachers differentiate their teaching in the classroom to make sure that every student is successful and is performing to their highest ability. In addition, this process of personalising the educational experience allows students to take ownership of their progress. They know that they have the ability to choose the method that works best for them.

To learn more about the primary school experience at OWIS and how differentiation is implemented in our classrooms, contact OWIS today to set up a virtual tour.

Please note: All the images in this blog were taken in pre-Covid times.

About Author

Krithika Venkataramani

Grade 1 Teacher

Krithika started her career as an E-learning Instructional Designer in 2000 writing storyboards and courseware for children. With rich experience in content development, she transitioned to teaching young children from 2014. Prior to OWIS, Krithika taught primary students in other Singapore international schools.

Krithika graduated with a Bachelor of Science. She also possesses a PGCEI from the University of Nottingham and the Cambridge International Diploma for Teachers.

Krithika believes in life-long learning, the spark for which is ignited during the early years of a child’s life. She also believes that a classroom environment should be challenging with opportunities to share ideas, solve problems and time for children to reflect on their own learning. OWIS provides an excellent platform to develop open-minded communicators, reflective thinkers, inquirers and competent global citizens. Krithika looks forward to facilitate such a learning journey for her students at OWIS.

She is passionate about art and yoga. Kritika loves spending time with her family and traveling during her spare time.

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