Let's Talk About Differentiation

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What is Differentiated Instruction?
Lets dive and talk about what it is and how it works.


Erika Carson, Eds.
Trilogy Mentors, Chief Learning Officer

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction refers to how instruction is being modified and/or varied so each child can master the same concepts & skills at the level that matches their abilities. It is the way in which information is delivered to students so they can “digest” it.

Let’s use apples as an example. You would never give a baby, with no teeth, an apple straight off the tree. You take off the skin, take out the seeds, and remove anything else that might be harmful. Then, you mash the apple into applesauce so the baby can eat it. Other kids may not need applesauce, but they’ll need you to dice the apple or cut it into slices. Finally, there will be the kids who can eat the apple straight off the tree. If the goal is “digesting the apple,” well then mission accomplished. Everyone “ate the apple” differently, but they all still met the goal.

Why Differentiation is Helpful for Students

Okay, enough with the metaphors. Kids learn differently, not just because some prefer to listen to information or some prefer to read it, but because each child comes to the table with different life experiences, different levels of “know how,” and variations in “prior knowledge.” People learn by building what are called “schemas” – when we can make connections to existing information.

For example: 

  1. If a child has difficulty spelling, give them the first and/or last letter of the word.

  2. If a child doesn’t understand fractions, draw pictures.

  3. If a child is bored reviewing their chemistry lessons, challenge them to identify objects around the room that align with the elements on the periodic table.

Differentiation is about supporting all students. This includes the ones that are struggling and the ones who need more of a challenge. To help each child meet their end goals (learning along the way, of course), Trilogy Mentors provides the right amount of scaffolding (support). Our mentors use videos, games, scenarios, and more, to help students connect to information and understand it.