Five Conditions for Differentiated Instruction


A supportive learning environment is one where all students feel valued and respected. Relationships among students in this kind of learning community are important. Positive relationships between students and adults in the classroom are the basis for a supportive learning environment. (See Creating a Culture for Differentiated Instruction).
Ongoing assessment for learning allows teachers to make instruction more responsive to the students’ needs. Pre-assessments let teachers know who already knows the subject and might be able to move ahead, who might need some basic skill support, and what misconceptions students might have. Ongoing assessments, sometimes called "checks for understanding," give teachers insight into student learning as the unit progresses, and allow them to make instructional decisions about the "next steps" for groups of students.

A high quality curriculum is one that focuses on the essential understandings and skills that students must learn. In a differentiated classroom, all students are expected to learn the same content expectations, but they learn at different rates, with different amounts of support, in different ways, and they express their learning differently.

Respectful tasks are ones that engage students, provide suitable challenges, and allow choices of how to gather information, process information, and present information.

A commitment to flexible grouping means that students might be grouped by common interests one day, by common learning preferences another day, or by their readiness to learn a particular topic on another day. Differentiated classrooms are not tracked, but groups change often depending on the nature of the learning and the instructional activities.


Assignment: Using the discussion tab, describe how your classroom teaching embraces at least one of these conditions. Tell us how you use ongoing assessment for learning, or how you use flexible grouping, etc.
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If you aren't quite sure about how one of these conditions would look in your classroom, pose an interesting and provocative question about it that might be answered by another teacher who is using this course.