Differentiating Instruction Based on Student Readiness

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  • 0:05 Defining Differentiation
  • 1:01 What Is Student Readiness?
  • 1:59 Differentiation and Readiness
  • 3:34 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Though children learn and grow in predictable steps, they're all unique learners with very different needs. This lesson discusses how students differ in readiness, and how teachers can offer differentiated experiences based on student readiness.

Defining Differentiation

Frank has a diverse group of learners in his classroom. They look, sound, act, and think differently. During his studies, Frank learned different methods of teaching math, reading, writing, and other subjects. He got to practice writing lesson plans and grading papers. What Frank wasn't prepared for, though, was how unique each of his students is as a learner. He knows how to teach math and reading, but what about all these different students?

Frank needs to teach his students using different methods because they're all unique learners. He can do this by using differentiation, a way of tailoring his instruction based on students' ability levels and current needs. Frank must take three things into account when planning for differentiated instruction: a student's readiness, interest, and learning profile. The first step for Frank is to determine student readiness. Let's take a look at what that means.

What Is Student Readiness?

For Frank to provide unique and specific learning opportunities for each student, he needs to recognize the ways his students are different. The first aspect he should explore is student readiness. This is a student's ability to accomplish a given task based on their current level of understanding. Let's break that down.

At the beginning of the year, Frank gave his students a series of screenings. These informal assessments were designed to indicate the levels at which his students could perform in reading, writing, and math. This showed student readiness - it gave Frank information on a student's ability, such as reading level, at the beginning of the year.

Frank will continue to assess his students throughout the year to check in on their progress, which can change frequently. For example, Ricky may enter the class as a level P reader but progress throughout the year to a level T. Frank knows when Ricky is ready for new learning by keeping his eye on Ricky's readiness.

Differentiation and Readiness

Frank uses his knowledge of students' readiness to differentiate instruction. He offers learning tasks, instruction, and independent tasks determined by this data. How does he differentiate based on student readiness? He does this in three ways:

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