Differentiating Instruction via the Products of Learning

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  • 0:04 Differentiation 101
  • 1:09 Content, Process, and Product
  • 2:17 Differentiate Products…
  • 3:06 Details on Products of…
  • 4:13 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Sharon Linde

Sharon has a Masters of Science in Mathematics

Teachers differentiate to make sure all students learn. One way they support student success is to modify the products of learning. This lesson reviews what that means and gives methods for differentiating this topic.

Differentiation 101

Mario thought he had the elements of teaching down. He knew how to read curriculum and write lesson plans. He was good at creating exciting learning activities that students found fun. He taught content, gave assessments, and recorded them in his grade book. He had good relationships with his students and their parents. Life was sweet.

This year Mario's school has a new administrator up on current trends and practices. Instead of teaching the way Mario used to, he wants teachers to differentiate, or provide instruction according to student needs. Mario has 24 students in his classroom. How is he supposed to make this happen?

The good news is, differentiation simply means modifying what is taught, how it's taught, and how it's assessed. Mario will take student readiness, interest, and learner profiles in mind when designing content, the process used to teach it, and how he determines whether or not students learned. Luckily, Mario's co-teacher, Carla, is a differentiation pro and has agreed to lend him a hand.

Content, Process, and Product

Differentiation can be intimidating to teachers when they first encounter it. In reality, it simply means making sure all students have a chance to make improvements, no matter what level they begin on. If Mario's third grade student Tommy is reading on a 1st grade level, he will surely fail if Mario teaches him using third grade books. By differentiating, Mario can help Tommy make progress beyond his current level, succeeding based on his level, not compared to grade level. The ultimate goal of differentiated learning is to help students get to grade level so they can understand the content taught.

Carla wants to go over the three elements of curriculum that Mario will modify. Let's take a look:

  • Content: what the teacher teaches, like facts, figures, opinions, or skills
  • Process: the way a teacher instructs; whole group, small group, individual as well as activities, like and unlike groups, partners, etc.
  • Product: what a student produces to show understanding

How can Mario make sure his products are modified to help all learners succeed?

Differentiating Products of Learning

Mario understands how to differentiate what and how he teaches, but struggles with products. Carla tells him that when we say products of learning, we mean things students use to show understanding of content. Typically thought of as assessments or tests, this category has expanded to include things like projects, portfolios, or presentations. Students can show, tell, or demonstrate understanding in many ways.

Products of learning are assessed at different times as well. Teachers can have students add to portfolios several times a year; culminating projects can be turned at the end of a unit; tests or quizzes can be given daily, weekly, or at the end of semesters. Differentiation allows for determining student understanding in a variety of ways.

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