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How are differentiation techniques used in the classroom?

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Quick Answer

Educators use differentiation techniques in the classroom by considering student differences when designing the lesson plan. Accommodating learner differences in this way gives students a better chance of succeeding in the classroom.

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Students in the same classroom can vary in terms of readiness, learning styles and interests. Teachers use differentiation techniques to accommodate these differences and give students the best chance of learning.

Classroom differentiation techniques fall under the following categories: task, grouping, pace, outcome and assessment. Preparing different tasks for different levels of students is a good way to allow students to work at their ability levels. Unfortunately, this requires more preparation for teachers and might have negative social implications for low-level learners. Adjusting expectations on pace and outcome offers an easier solution because it allows teachers to prepare a single task with graduated levels of difficulty.

The risk with this is that some students might end up learning at a level or speed that is not within state-mandated bounds. Asking students to work in mixed-level groups is a better alternative as it promotes collaborative learning, but this cannot be implemented for all classroom activities.

Differentiated assessment is at the heart of implementing differentiation techniques because it encourages students to respond to learning by using their strongest skills. For instance, students can choose to show what they learned a lesson by writing an essay, illustrating their insights or performing an oral report.

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