The Differentiation Challenge

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article from education week article

Education Week has just published an article proclaiming that Differentiation Doesn’t Work. The claim is not that differentiated instruction isn’t effective, but that it is very difficult to implement in a classroom with a large number of students with diverse needs, and so relatively few teachers actually differentiate instruction.

Innovations for Learning exists because we agree with the premise of this article. It IS very difficult to differentiate instruction in a diverse classroom. But we took this as a challenge; an opportunity to bring the benefits of differentiated instruction into the most challenging classroom environments in the country. We have spent over 20 years devising methods and tools that enable teachers to achieve the seemingly impossible. Our technology is focused precisely around helping teachers manage differentiation, and we named our system TeacherMate to drive home this focus.

The illustration that accompanies the Education Week article is also noteworthy. It shows a teacher working with a single student. The joke in the illustration is that the teacher has a deli counter ticketing system to help her select students for instruction. We take that joke seriously. One-on-one instruction is so important in beginning reading that we have gone to great lengths to make that a workable model in even a large classroom.

Differentiated instruction is too important to give up on. We have seen it working, and we are confident that it can be accomplished by most teachers, even in historically lower performing schools.

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