Yesterday I had an interesting discussion with my PYP Coodinator, Ms Aini about differentiation in the classroom. In my understanding, differentiation deals with the way we deliver the teaching and facilitating the students in their learning based on their interests and multiple intelligence. There are some issues of learning styles and special needs come up when we do differentiation. But, I might be right, but might not fully wrong. Yes, it deals with our teaching in which we need to accomodate all learners in order to make them able to meet their goals. That is the essense of differentiation! But what makes me might be wrong is DIFFERENTIATION is not only about that!
As my understanding limited to that, Ms, Aini just like gave me “a wake up call” that basically differentiation has something to do with the task that we are given/ facilitating to the students. The simplest example, she gave me sample of my teaching in the classroom; when I gave the students various types of learning engagement, it is differentiation. I am just thinking that yes it is true, indeed. In my classroom, I am trying to find ways to make my teaching and learning interesting by facilitating the students’ learning interactively using technology (which is my beloved teaching soulmate; SMARTBOARD) and I think it is one of my ways to make the learning become more engaging and interesting, in which in the same time I also achieve to accomodate almost all students to reach their learning goals. So, point number one about diffrentiation is diffrentiation is about the TASK that you give to the students.
Point number two that I get from Ms. Aini is that differentiation is very much related to the PROCESS. Process in here can cover many
things, specifically the process of the students learning. When you are trying to find ways to group the students based on their ineterests, it is one way to apply differentiation. Also, when you assisst a student (especially the slow learner ones), it is a differentiation. When in the middle of the learning process, there are some fast learners can finish their task before the time to finish, then you give them additional work which the expectation is higher, in this case, you are doing DIFFERENTIATION.
Third point that I can conclude from our conversation is DIFFERENTIATION is closely connected to the product. Again, it is just like an enlightment for me. When you plan assessment for the students and you give freedom for the students to express their understanding, IT IS DIFFRENTIATION. Take my current unit as an example, when students need to express their understanding of some types of governmental systems. Some of my students preferr to do it in pair. Some of them choose to work in groups. Some of them are feeling comfortable to do it by themselves. Some of them express their understanding by performing a role play. Some of my students choose to make a comic strip. Some of them present their understanding by making power point presentation. In this case, I am giving my students FREEDOM to choose what media they are going to do as long as the goal of the learning can be achieved!