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Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

What is Differentiation
Regular primary classes today are characterised by inclusion of students with special needs,
increasing diversity in student populations and variety in the quality of educational provisions
(Cambourne, 2000a; Chard, 2000; DArcangelo, 1998; Tomlinson, 2005). The theory of multiple
intelligences (Gardener, 1983) encompasses the idea that all people have a different profile of
abilities, natural or learned, in which they are skilled. These skills in one person rarely match with
other peoples (Reynolds, 2009). This belief requires the promotion of differentiation in an inclusive
classroom through the use of teaching strategies that will incorporate all students strengths and
needs. Differentiation is defined as teaching procedures, instruction, content, learning
environments and strategies, outcomes and assessment that are differed to accommodate
students individual interests, needs, abilities and learning profiles (Westwood, 2001). According to
Tomlinson differentiation is a responsive teaching style where a teacher tries to maximise the
learning outcomes and capacity of the students by accommodating strategies that help all learners
in bridging the gaps in understanding and skills. In short, differentiation in a classroom strictly
opposes the idea one size fits all. Teachers observe and understand the differences and similarities
among students and use the information to plan instructions. It requires teachers to know their
students well, so as to provide each one of them with experiences and tasks helpful in improving
Legislation & ACARA
The Council of Australian Governments (COAG) and The National Education Agreement
(NEA) articulate the commitment of Australian governments to ensure that all Australian school
students acquire the knowledge and skills to participate effectively in society and employment in a
globalised economy. The outcomes articulated in the agreed policy and reform directions are
designed to provide equal opportunities to all children to engage in, and benefit from, schooling.
Melbourne Declaration Act: Goal 1: Australian schooling promotes equity and excellence states
that Australian governments, in collaboration with all school sectors, commit to promoting equity
and excellence in Australian schooling. It provide all students with access to high-quality schooling
that is free from discrimination based on (Ministerial Council on Education, Employment, Training
and Youth Affairs, 2008)

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

The Australian curriculum is a three dimensional curriculum that aligns with the Government
policies and legislation to provide equal opportunities to all students. It also gives adequate
opportunity to the teacher to differentiate the curriculum flexibly to accommodate for students
diverse needs and abilities.
While designing a planning document it is important for teachers to consider the various abilities
and needs of all the students so as to enhance students learning and outcome of the lessons.
Appropriate strategies must be systematically implemented at both the school and the classroom
levels (Robinson, 2002). The focus of this essay is to differentiate the provided unit plan in order to
cater the specific needs and abilities of Chaska. Chaska is a year 1 student who is identified as gifted
and talented; also, it is possible that he has ADHD (as tested by school psychologist). Although, the
adjustments are made to the content, process, product and learning environment considering the
readiness, interests and learning profile of Chaska, the unit plan also caters the varied needs of all
the individuals in an inclusive early childhood classroom. To differentiate, the teacher must make
modifications to the content that is delivered, the process of how it is delivered and the overall
product (Tomlinson, 1999).
Gagns (2003) Differentiated Model of Giftedness and Talent (DMGT) has been adopted in the

While planning differentiation in an inclusive classroom, the learning outcomes/goals should be
clear. Tomlinson and Moon (2013) have suggested KUD principle for the teachers while planning a
unit for an inclusive classroom. According to this principle effective differentiation takes place when
the teacher is clear about what they want their students to know (K), understand (U) and be able to
do (D) (Tomlison & Moon, 2013). The teacher would work backwards with the students who need
extra help and fill in the learning gaps wherever required. It is imperative for the teacher to believe
in students potential for high achievement. Higher expectations set by the teachers lead to higher
academic achievements of the students (Hattie, 2003; Sullivan, 2011; ACARA, 2012; Corrigan et al.,
As indicated by the results from the school psychologists report and careful study of Chaskas
profile, Chaska shows readiness in learning enrichment content. However, he has poor listening
skills (due mild bilateral conductive loss) and working memory. Learning outcome can be slightly
modified while differentiating the sessions for Chaska. Year 1 learning outcomes will not be

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

considered for literacy as Chaska is performing at the age level of 8 years old student. The main
focus will be on year 2 literacy outcomes. Short sessions and activities on long vowels, blends and
silent letters will be included as majority of students struggle with these concepts. However, the
time allocated to these concepts will be reduced. While constructing texts using softwares student
can be asked to include character or events in their texts to make it more interesting. Another focus
will be on sequencing events, as Chaska struggle with sequencing skills it will help to improve his
organisation and sequencing skills.
Regarding the numeracy outcomes, the goals will be reduced slightly to a lower level. Chaska would
need to count collection of objects up to 50 instead of 100. Another focus will be on skip counting
by ones and twos at first and then, depending on Chaskas progress, can be gradually increased to
fives. It is important that the classroom curriculum caters to students individuality, as this can
enhance their motivation to learn by providing an environment that is accessible for them and
interests them, while building on students academic and social needs (Ginsberg, 2005). Moreover,
it is imperative for the teacher to believe in students potential for achievement (Westwood, 2001;
Tomlinson, 2013; Macleod, 2004).
It was found from the school psychologist report that Chaska likes science and history. It would be
helpful for his learning if history of coins can be integrated in the session on Australian Coins. It
was also found that Chaska enjoys reading and he has excellent verbal comprehension. Science
fiction books can be placed in the reading corner or in the class library. According to Hyde,
Carpenter and Conway (2014), students learn most when they are provided with the resources and
materials of their interest. Students also gain the desired understanding and skills when exposed to
an activity of interest.
As Chaska has poor working memory barrier games advised in the unit programme would be
difficult for him or to similar ability student. As advised by Gathercole, Lamont and Alloway (2006),
activities that demand excessive load on brain of students, it often results in task failure. Secondly,
due to mild bilateral conductive loss work station on listening can be changed to a video station.

Structured activities with direct instruction and deliberate peace of learning are keys to successful
differentiated session (Hyde et. al, 2014). Originally, textbooks, ICT and multimedia were the

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

sources of catering the needs of the students. Various adjustments have been made in teaching
learning activities according to the learning needs of the students.
Routine: Hyde, Carpenter and Conway (2014) have suggested RICE process when a student is stuck
about what to do next. As Chaska has poor working memory and it is likely that he would face
problem with tasks. This is an effective strategy to help student to Recall (what the teacher has
said), Imagine (directions for the task), Check (with a classmate) and be an Expert of the day. Every
student will get a chance to be Expert of the Day. This will enable Chaska to be accountable for
helping other students, raise his self-concept and enable him to cultivate various social skills.
Instructions: The literature suggests that all students should receive instruction that is flexibly and
dynamically matched to their individual needs and this can be achieved in a classroom where
diversity is valued and differentiation is organised and implemented.
For all activities, Chaska and students with similar abilities would need printed instructions with
animated pictures. This would help student with memorise the task expectations. Due to his
inability to memorise things a printed instruction would be of great help (Gathercole et. al., 2006)

whole-class instruction suggests possible benefits for many students (Good & Brophy, 2003).

Literacy Activities:
Heacox (2002) recommends that teacher alternates the order in which activities are introduced for
a differentiated task. Writing Buddies is an activity in which a student from upper grade comes to
help student from lower grade. The partner will help in identifying and correcting errors in writing, if
any. This practice will motivate struggling students towards writing and students will have
opportunity to share their work with the peers. Tompkins (2010) suggests students need
opportunities to practice writing every day. He further explains that when students work with peers
in order to build their confidence and become more successful.
As suggested by Tomlinson & Moon (2013) the students must be provided with the tasks in
accordance to their readiness. If teacher provides the student with the task in which the student is
proficient, this will not enable him to learn. On the other hand, if the teacher provides a task that is
far beyond the reach of the student, this creates boredom and frustration; learning objectives will
not be achieved in either case.

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

Choice is a useful strategy in an inclusive classroom. Students who are not motivated towards
specific task should be allowed to choose As suggested by Reid (2001) providing choice to the
students in performance of various tasks maximises students engagement in the task and minimises
disruptive behaviour. However, note-taking will be essential for every student, and scaffolded sheet
will be provided to the students to enable them to take the notes as they go through the content.
This will constitute as an whole class task that will enable the teacher to assess students
understanding of the concept. It would be useful to give the student with choices on tasks and
home work (hyde
EElkonin Boxes;

Numeracy Activities:
Armstrong (2009) outlines activities that can be applied to a topic to cater for the eight defined
intelligences. Students could be asked to use the source to complete a topic about the characters;
further from this student could be asked to do the following activities:

Logical-mathematical intelligence (logic and exploration of patterns and numbers) classify and
categorise the characters, based on visual characteristics.

(4) Bodily-kinaesthetic intelligence (body movement control) classroom theatre

of how the invaders are depicted by the visual images on key pages

(6) Interpersonal intelligence (ability to interrelate with others) using peer

sharing and cooperative groups, students brainstorm what the book cover

suggests about the characters.

(8) Naturalistic intelligence (discriminate between living things) students are

asked to look at the relationship between the animals in the story and compare

these to another set of animals that exist in a natural setting.

This allows students to further develop their strengths and build on their weaknesses (Nicholson-Nelson, 1998).
The use of strategies like these allow students to build and actively use their most highly developed intelligence to
achieve and understand the main concepts; once attained, this will help the student understand and develop their
other intelligences within the topic framework. This is done by reiterating the same concept using numerous
techniques in order to assist students to dentify their preferred learning style.

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514


Use of choice: The use of choice helps to intrinsically motivate students (Palmer, 2007). Promoting the use of
learning stations allows students to choose how they will learn and demonstrate their knowledge of a
particular topic. In some cases, however, all stations must be utilised in order for students to truly understand
the main concepts. Choice can then be used to allow students to choose a starting point for their introduction
to the main concepts. The other stations are then used to reinforce initial understanding and build upon this. A
choice of activities enables students to identify their personal qualities, preferred learning style and to feel
that they are valued for their personal achievement. With the use of strategies to accommodate students MI
in the classroom, teachers are able to differentiate the content and how it is taught to m

Individual project: Count me in Too is a computer based research programme which can be
integrated on weekly basis in to differentiate numeracy outcomes. The Washing line game in the
programme will help students to practise sequemcing num\bers in forward and backward order.
As there is a possibility that Chaska might have ADHD, Feedback and follow up by praise will be used to
motivate Chaka for becoming self-regulated learner. According to Hattie, 2003 the size effect of teachers
feedback on students achievement is 1.3, and it is regarded as the most powerful single moderator that
enhances achievement. As cited in Reid (2001), the students with ADHD perform best when they are given
appropriate feedback on their performance ( Dupaul & Stonner, 1994). Johnny has a very low self-concept.
As suggested by Sullivan ( 2012),the teachers must ensure that their students develop positive self-concept
that enables them to confront any challenge. In case of Johnny this can be achieved by providing him with
realistic and achievable tasks, which are properly scaffolded.
The teacher would use tasks and prompts along with motivational drivers (tests and competitions) to
maximise Johnnys participation in the classroom (Sullivan, 2012) .In case of Johnny the teacher would use
extended prompts to enable him to perform higher order tasks. As suggested by Sullivan (2012), extended
prompts enable the students to think more deeply while staying in the same context and extend their
learning experience in a meaningful way.

1) Products and assessment for the individual student and/or for all students
According to Hyde, assessment should be ongoing and diagnostic in an inclusive classroom. He
advised that such formative assessmenst come from small group discussion with the teacher,
whole class discussion, journal entries, portfolio entries, exit cards, skill inventories, pre tests,
homework assignments and interest surveys.

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

A range of assessment techniques have been used in the programme, however, it would be good if
some assessments on oral presentations in whole class is added. calculator. In addition to this, the
program has Individual classroom assessment that includes Quizzes, homework completion, and
general participation in class. However, the teacher would include other forms of products as Quiz
making for the whole class, posing problems and finding solutions, presentations, extended
investigations (Siemon et al., 2004), open ended tasks ( Siemon et al., 2004; DEST, Ed Qld et al.,
2004), classroom participation and involvement in group discussions (DEST, Ed Qld et al., 2004). The
teacher would allocate more percentage of marks for these assessments. Because in mathematics a
formal system of testing is essential, which includes Formal exam, teacher would redistribute the
allocation of marks so as to give an opportunity to students of diverse learning styles to present
their academic achievement.

2) Learning Environment for the individual student and/or for all students
Gardner believed that environment and opportunity shape students intellectual capacity by
influencing the information that students have access to in their everyday life (Tomlinson et al.,
2002). The application of practices that allow students to engage their formula of intelligences is
important, as this allows students to access and use the intellectual capacity that is most effective
to achieve the task, the learning environment should be differentiated to change the pace of how
things are delivered, create activities that are challenging in order to push students, be relevant
to students and be flexible and varied (Heacox, 2002).
The learning environment ensures a positive classroom culture. This can be created when teachers foster a
sense of inclusion and use respectful communication (Hyde, Carpenter & Conway, 2010). It is important to
build an atmosphere of trust and belongingness in the classroom. In case of Johnny, as he has very low selfefficacy and problems with social conduct, it is very important to build healthy teacher-student relationship
to provide him with sufficient support to overcome his discrepancies. Since Johnny has no problems with
teachers, it reflects that teachers caring attitude and interest in Johnny as an individual would enable him to
respond well in terms of behaviour and task achievement. Small and little prompts by the teacher on
Johnnys little wins would enable the teacher to build trust. Providing appropriate feedback (Reid, 2001),

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

showing interest in Johnnys learning and achievement will lead to a healthy relationship. Hyde, Carpenter
and Conway (2010) suggests that the teachers care and concern towards the individual students makes the
students feel a part of the classroom environment and their behavioural response improves.

Learning centres: Science

Learning centres: A small shopping centre can be created in a corner of the class. That would be
useful for students learning about coins. Studnets mixed ability groups can have turns to be
shgopkeeper and customer. This activity would help students to understand coins while playing at
shopping centre. Printed instructions ar helpful in this work station as students with learning
difficulties or special needs will be able to see the animated instructions to understand what are the
expectations of the task.Parents can be asked to bring empty cartons from their home to contribute
to the goods in the shop. Hence, Parents partenership can be involved in teh classroom activity
which is not evident in the provided programme. Hyde, stations allow students to work with
different tasks while differentiating instruction. Flexible grouping is important here as not all
students need to go to all stations all the time

However, critics propose the limitations of whole-class teaching requires reforms for students with
learning difficulties (LD) or advanced learning (AL) capacities to academically engage a wider cohort
of students (George, 2005; Good & Brophy, 2000, 2003). Such reforms may include greater variety
in instructional provisions.

In Australia effective literacy instruction is [meant to be] intrinsically purposeful,

flexible, dynamic and highly interactive in a variety of contexts (Comber, Badger, Barnett,
Nixon & Pitt, 2002; Department of Education, Employment and Training [DEET], 1991, p. 5).
In contrast, traditional literacy instruction based on the cycle of questioning, answering and
assessment can impede student progress and result in superficial learning rather than quality
teaching. Concerns regarding instructional methods for student diversity have been raised in the
literature (Fields, 1999a, 1999b; Westwood, 2001).
The multitude of researched-based teaching and learning strategies reflects on-going discourse and
changing practices to meet the diverse educational needs of individual students in inclusive

Differentiating The Curriculum EDUC5514

classrooms. Such discourse suggests there is little consensus regarding the best methods for
teaching and learning in mixed-ability contexts (Mosenthal, Lipson, Torncello, Russ & Mekkelsen,
2004). There is continuing need to examine literacy instructional practices for student diversity in
primary classrooms (Ainley & Fleming, 2000; Hill & Crevola, 1997).

. Differentiating instruction for individual student needs is believed to be one response to

the challenges of teaching and learning in mixed-ability contexts (Gartin et al. 2002; Keefe &
Jenkins, 2002; Miller, 2002; Tomlinson, 2001a)2.

Creating a differentiated and inclusive classroom helps teachers to more effectively meet
the needs of all students. This is essential, as the classroom must be a place that is free from

Even though there are an increasing number of researchers arguing the importance of addressing
individual needs through the use of different techniques, there is relatively little empirical research
to support differentiation (Conway, Arthur-Kelly & Pascoe, 2004; Tomlinson & Kalbfleisch, 1998).


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