Benefits Of Differentiated Classrooms

Since 2004, inclusion programs for learning disabled students have been enabled and mandated through IDEA. Thus, educators who have been taught to instruct in methodology and a certain subject area are unprepared for the influx of students who need individualized attention. The Learning Disabilities Association of America has created a learning disability website to help parents, teachers, and students cope with these changes.

A resource that LDA puts forth for teachers is a guide to differentiated learning, which combines curricular modifications, multiple intelligences and learning styles, and the use of essential questions (LDA 1). In short, this style of teachers responds to the individual differences so that each student guides what they will attain in content, process, and knowledge acquisition. The goal of the teacher is to recognize the student’s abilities, interests, and learning profile, which can be learned through interacting with the student and their parents, as well as, observing student’s response to various activities. It is important to encourage parent involvement in and outside of the classroom for better cooperation and understanding. The teacher’s job does not end with understanding each unique student, though, with the knowledge that they gain, educators then design various activities to incorporate all the students. The goal of the teacher should be to keep students aligned with objective and personal goals, while challenging them to succeed.

A classroom that utilizes differentiated instruction would have many different activities occurring during the class. Some students would be working in teams, individually, etc. They may all be working on the same goal or be at different levels. In essence, each student has an individual plan of activities. For example in a classroom that is teaching addition. Some students will be working on simple math problems solo, some will be working on simple math problems in a hands on contexts such as using blocks or pencils, some students will have advanced to higher level addition, some students will be learning addition in group games, etc. Each student is learning in an environment that is suited for him. The average and gifted students are still being challenged and the learning disabled students are not embarrassed or ashamed because everybody is doing something different at their own level.
Unfortunately for educators, there is not a guide book to differentiated learning, because it is completely student-centered. It is almost a mild form of the existential approach to education, only instead of students finding whatever knowledge on their own, the teacher facilitates the knowledge and abilities needed in various contexts so each student can understand it in his own unique way.

Created by: Jessica Sweeney

LDA Education Committee, “Related Terms: Differentiated Learning, Personalized Contextual
Instruction, Academically Responsive Instruction.” Learning Disabilities Association of America.
2006. 14 July 2007 <>.