Differentiation put simply, is a teaching approach that focusses on groups of students rather than individual students. Teachers can flexibly group students for targeted instruction, activities or assignments. This small group learning is supported by research and has an effect size of 0.47 (Visible learning, n.d.). Students are grouped into smaller groups within a class, however they are not left in the group permanently, the groups are flexible and based on the needs of the students.
For example, a teacher identifies that a group of students has not understood a concept and that this will need to be re-taught. These students are placed in a small group for the purposes of re-teaching and learning this concept. It is a short-term grouping and ends when the students show evidence of understanding. Another example is a teacher identifies a group of students who already show evidence of understanding part of a topic. The teacher groups these students together to provide opportunities for them to accelerate their learning.
Individualised learning focusses on the needs of individual students in the class.
Teaching is specific and targets one need at a time. This teaching method can be used on its own, or it can be part of differentiated teaching. Some students who receive individualised instruction need teachers to help them understand and learn. Other students using the same teaching method can skip topics they already know and go on to advanced information
Many students are on individualised education programmes (IEP) which are shown in SEQTA through the Student Alert function. These IEP’s outline the educational accommodations required to meet the student’s individual learning need.
SEQTA supports teachers to deliver both differentiated instruction and individualised learning, however it is up to the teacher to determine the right tool to use based on the needs of their students. A number of tools are available to access:
Teachers need to use the technology to help them deliver a differentiated and/or individualised learning programme. It supports them to track student progress, facilitate timely interventions, if necessary, and monitor individual learning. The key is that the teachers connect the right tool to the right student.
Osewalt, G. (2020, October 22). Individualized Instruction vs. Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved April 12, 2021, from https://www.understood.org/en/school-learning/partnering-with-childs-school/instructional-strategies/individualized-instruction-vs-differentiated-instruction
Visible Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.visiblelearningmetax.com/influences/view/small_group_learning
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