By Karen S. Voytecki, Ph.D.
2001 CEC Clarissa Hug Teacher of the Year
Assistant Professor, East Carolina University
In addition to being able to communicate and collaborate with other professionals (i.e. general education teachers, special educators, paraprofessionals, speech/language pathologists, etc.), it is also essential to focus on the instructional component that equates to success for students with exceptionalities who are included in general education classrooms. Although there are numerous factors that must be taken into account when designing instruction for today's students (i.e. students' background knowledge, current skill levels, interest, relevance to their lives, etc.), each lesson must be differentiated to meet the needs of the diverse students that compose the classes of our schools.
Differentiated instruction meets the needs of ALL students by responding to their varying levels of background knowledge, skill readiness, language acquisition, learning styles, interests, and response modes. The process of differentiated instruction is an instructional approach that is specifically tailored to address differing abilities within the same class. Differentiated instruction individualizes the overall lesson to maximize each learner's potential and academic success.
Differentiated instruction begins first and foremost with student assessment. Based on the needs assessment, instruction can be differentiated by content, process, or product.
The following weblinks provide more details and insights for effective differentiated instruction techniques:
Differentiated Instruction by Mark Walker (posted at OSEP Ideas that Work website)
Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) Universal Design for Learning