An area of interest that I have explored this year is differentiated instruction as several teachers have shown a desire to develop programming that meets the various learning needs of the students in their classrooms.
One of Parkland School Division’s initiatives is to build learning environments where “exploration, creativity and imagination make learning exciting and where all learners aspire to reach their dreams.” Within this system, each student is provided with the best education possible. According to PSD, “The success of inclusive education programming relies on the engagement, collaboration and involvement of students, parents, staff and community”
The following attributes are the foundation for inclusion within Parkland School Division:
– All students are linked to the Program of Studies;
– Success is described for all students in that it may look different for different students;
– Students have the supports and services they need to access and be successful within their educational programs;
– Students are safe and healthy;
– Students feel that they are welcomed and that they contribute. (p. 8)
Differentiated Instruction can be extended systematically within Parkland School Division to support inclusion. According to an article I recently read by Adams and Pierce (2004), “Differentiated instruction involves structuring a lesson at multiple levels so that each student has an opportunity to work at a moderately challenging, developmentally appropriate level.” Within this model, students’ interests, learning preferences, learner profiles, readiness levels, and much more are taken into account. This aligns with PSD’s vision of inclusion as DI supports programming for students to best fit their learning needs.
Differentiating lessons allows students to work towards the same objectives or goals in different ways. One method I have explored that supports DI is tiered lessons. Tiered lessons allow teachers to “address a particular standard, key concept and generalization, [by providing] several pathways for students to arrive at an understanding of these components.” Furthermore, “The use of tiered graphic organizers allow teachers to assess growth, as they observe students during instruction and as students progress from one level to the next.” This reflects the division’s attributes as ALL students would be “linked” to the Program of Studies in different ways, and the proper supports would be provided for each student to be successful.
I have seen DI being implemented in many classrooms this year and have seen first-hand the benefits of this teaching method. I look forward to seeing where DI takes us next!