Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.
At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. "What is differentiated instruction?" Reading Rockets. Version Article 263. WETA, n.d. Web. 23 Mar. 2012. <www.readingrockets.org/article/263/>.
One method to differentiate one's instruction is by incorporating the use of manipulatives in the classroom.
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Manipulatives have been used in the classroom for years. Teachers understand that manipulatives provide a concrete foundation for learning abstract ideas. However, it can be challenging at times to implement the use of manipulatives into your classroom's daily routine. Consider the following when planning a lesson that will require the use of manipulatives:
1. Manipulatives have been chosen to support the lesson's objective.
2. Significant plans have been made to orient students to the manipulatives and corresponding classroom procedures.
3. The lesson involves active participation of each student.
4. The lesson plan includes procedures for evaluation that reflect an emphasis on the development of reasoning skills.
Ross, R., & Kurtz, R. (1993). Making manipulatives work: A strategy for success. The Arithmetic Teacher, 40(5), 254-257.
7 Musts for Using Manipulatives
You find them in classrooms across the nation — buckets of pattern blocks; trays of tiles and cubes; and collections of geoboards, tangrams, counters, and spinners. They've been touted as a way to help students learn math more easily. But many teachers still ask: Are manipulatives a fad? How do I fit them into my instruction? How often should I use them? How do I make sure students see them as learning tools, not toys? How can I communicate their value to parents? Are they useful for upper-grade students, too?
I've used manipulative materials at all levels for 30 years, and I'm convinced I can't — and shouldn't — teach without them. Here are my strategies:
Burns, M. (n.d.). 7 Musts for Using Manipulatives | Scholastic.com. Scholastic | Children's Books and Book Club | Scholastic.com. Retrieved March 26, 2012, from http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/article/7-musts-using-manipulatives-0