• Responsive teaching (differentiation of instruction) is a teacher's response to a learner's needs guided by general principles of responsive teaching (differentiation), such as:

    Respectful tasks (High-Quality Curriculum) are learning experiences matched to the needs of the student. Tasks that are respectful of the learner honor the differences among students' readiness levels (appropriately rigorous), areas of interest (engage the learner), and learning profile (attends to learner processing). Flexible grouping is characterized by the combination of whole group, small group, and independent work. Learners' readiness, interests, and learning profiles serve as the basis for groups. Student groups remain flexible because they are responsive to changes in students' readiness, interests, and learning profile.
    Ongoing assessment and adjustment involves the use of pre-, ongoing, and post-assessment data on learner readiness, areas of interest, and learning profile to make adjustments in curriculum and instruction. Sense of community is an ever present classroom/team focus on community building through student involvement, respectful interactions, legitimizing student strengths, shared and positive interdependence experiences, and an awareness of common goals that honor naturally occurring differences.

    With high-quality curriculum for all learners as the foundation, teachers can differentiate:

    Content is the what. Content is defined by the Webster Groves School District curriculum. The content is what students will know, understand, and be able to do as a result of the sequence of teaching and learning. Process is the how. Process is how students will make sense of or comes to understand the content. The process is made up of the strategies and methods that form the sequence of teaching and learning.
    Products are the vehicles by which students demonstrate their knowledge, understanding, and skills. They are the tools teachers use to assess student progress toward the content goals. Learning environment is the where. The learning environment is the organization of time, space and resources for teaching and learning. It is the context in which teaching and learning takes place. Developing a strong community of learners is essential to effective differentiation.

    According to students:

    The goal of differentiating by student interest is motivation. If students are going to persist in rigorous content, they must be engaged. Differentiation according to student interest and culture provides guided choices based upon content standards where such choices are both appropriate and motivating.

    The goal of differentiating by learner profile is efficiency. Identifying the ways in which students best learn helps organize curriculum and instruction that supports different modes of learning so students learn things in a more efficient and effective manner. A student's learning profile is the combination of ways in which he/she learns best.

    Using a range of management and instructional strategies such as:

    Learner Profiles
    Learning Styles/Interest Inventories
    Anchor Activities Cubing /
    Think Dots
    Flexible Grouping Choice Boards/Menus Tiering
    Developing Clarity about Learning Goals RAFT Activities Complex Instruction
    Varied Questioning Strategies Independent Study / Small Group Projects Curriculum Compacting
    Graphic Organizers Learning Contracts/Personal Agendas Etc.
    Adapted from Burritt & Hedrick - VIRGINA BEACH CITY PUBLIC SCHOOLS and from The Differentiated Classroom, (1999)  and  Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom (2003) by Carol Ann Tomlinson