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Differentiated Instruction in Music

Instructor: Clio Stearns

Clio has taught education courses at the college level and has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction.

As a music teacher, you have students with a wide range of skills, abilities, and interests. This lesson gives you some ideas for how you can meet the needs of every learner in your class.

Differentiation Counts in Music

At Laurence Elementary, all of the students love going to music class. They know that their voices, needs, and ideas will be valued in Mrs. Rogers' room regardless of how good they are at singing or how much they already know about instruments. Mrs. Rogers thinks that the reason her class is so popular is because she spends a lot of time thinking about how to differentiate her instruction, or provide a variety of ways students can work at their own levels and paces toward a common goal.

Mrs. Rogers first learned about differentiation when she was a classroom teacher and had students at different reading levels, but she has found that the principles of differentiation apply just as strongly to the music classroom. By differentiating her instruction, Mrs. Rogers ensures that her music classes are inclusive of all the students who join.

Setting Goals

One of the first things Mrs. Rogers does as she works on differentiating her instruction is to ensure that every lesson has a clearly defined goal--something she hopes every student will leave her class with. She keeps her goals broad, manageable, and accessible. For instance, the goal of a first-grade music lesson might be for every student to understand what a quarter note is. The goal of a fifth-grade music lesson might be for every student to understand attributes of West African music.

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