What is Differentiated Instruction?
Differentiated instruction is the manner in which each teacher modifies the core curriculum and designs strategies to address the unique needs of gifted students. Differentiation of curriculum is dependent on these principles:
Differentiation is based on the state content standards at each grade Differentiation is affected by the dimensions of depth, complexity, novelty, and acceleration Differentiation should be an integral part of, rather than an adjunct to, the core curriculum Differentiation modifies what students will know (content), how students will think (critical, creative, and problem-solving skills or processes), how students will access and use resources (research skills) and how students will summarize and share their learning (products) Differentiation should be available to gifted and advanced students as well as any other student who evidence a readiness for the same experience Differentiation can be facilitated through flexible grouping and regrouping of students for each task or group of tasks based on need, interest, and ability Differentiation should be provided consistently and should be accompanied by high standards of performance Differentiation must include teacher instruction and should not be assumed to be self-taught by students
One way in which differentiated instruction is accomplished is through the integration of depth and complexity of principles theories and generalizations into the core curriculum. The GATE curriculum is structured around iconic teaching which means that our teachers utilize icons or symbols, which represent the different aspects of depth and complexity.
Below you will find a brief description of the elements of depth and complexity along with their easily identifiable icons that are useful in the classroom.
Depth Identify the Rules: Through the use of this icon, students are instructed on how to define the organizational elements affecting the specific curriculum that is being studied. This process requires the identification and description of factors, either human-made or natural, which affect the information at hand Statement of Trends: This icon encourages the identification of changes over time. Students are instructed on how to note factors or events – social, political, economic, geographic – that cause effects to occur or happen Ethical Considerations: Students are instructed to identify and analyze the possible rights and wrongs of a given idea or event. This allows them to determine the elements that reflect bias, prejudice and discrimination. Through this focus on ethics, students develop the ability to state pro and con arguments in terms of ethics. Note the Patterns: This icon is used to instruct the students to identify the recurring elements or repeated factors of an event or idea. It also focuses on the order of events which occur. Finally students are asked to identify the pattern and to predict what comes next. Recognize the Details: This icon involves elaboration of an idea or event.
The student’s ability to describe something is integral in the learning process thus the teacher encourages the students to elaborate and describe.
Language of the Discipline: Instructors encourage the use of appropriate language when addressing specifics in the curriculum. Part of being a scholar requires the use of appropriate terminology. Define Unanswered Questions: What ideas are unclear? What information is unclear? What don’t we know? What areas have not been explained or proved yet? Do any conclusions need further evidence or support? These are questions which arise when using this icon in discussion of an area of
Complexity Over Time: Time changes everything. This icon encourages the students to identify and describe the effects that time has on the curriculum being studied.
Since some things change throughout time and others do not, students
are asked to identify these elements. They are instructed to explain how and why things change or remain the same.
Big Idea: The big idea is in other words a generalization, principle, or theory about the curriculum being studied. The students are directed to make a conclusion from evidence that explain:
a collection of facts or ideas
a group of facts or ideas with a summary statement
identify a rule or general statement based on repeated/recurring observations of
data information or collection of ideas
Multiple Perspectives: Students are encouraged to look at ideas and events from different perspectives. It is important for the students to understand that not everybody looks at things the same way. A common technique used to aide the students to look through another’s eyes is the use of: Think like a (n)…historian, anthropologist, economist, archeologist, etc.