Assignment on Differentiated Learning

In understanding the meaning of differentiated learning, Yu (2016) deciphers teaching and learning from a classroom point of view, as the learning process pertains toward differing abilities in the classroom to maximize growth and success within each individual, whereby the teacher serves as a facilitator assisting with the learning process. Miller (2012) explains teaching in terms of whether you’re teaching children or adults, with Autism, the main facet is that no two students are exactly alike. A typical class includes students who pick up new material quickly, students with disabilities who need extra support, visual learners, hands-on learners, and other students with Autism of delayed learning. The main point is that each student has strengths, weaknesses, and preferences that influence how they learn and differentiated instruction provides a teaching strategy where lessons are tailored to meet individual student needs. When teachers use differentiated instruction, they are setting each student up for academic success.
In this paper we will focus on Peter who is a student with disability and affected with Autism whereby we will demonstrate how Peter can fit in a class setting and understand what he is being taught. Students like Peter who have disabilities, instruction can be differentiated within a classroom setting understanding elemental factors that embrace: content, products, the learning environment, and learning process are all relevant in the teaching process. Content refers to what the student a student like Peter will learn, which might focus on reducing the number of problems on a worksheet, assigning specific assignments or topics based on abilities, or even using various materials within different levels so that he or she can clearly understand. Project based assignments are a great tool to embrace understanding as it involves content, learning environment and processing from a differentiated instruction of varying sets. Examples of ‘Differentiated Instruction’ might deal with various sets of reading comprehension questions, a personalized course packet with individualized enrichment materials, an adaptive assessment that could possibly get easier or harder depending how Peter is performing, and finally one of my favorites, one on one coaching with a student (Monk et al, 2013). Knowing that Peter is different from the other students, there comes a time when an educator will develop a way to know intuitively what is good for each student, in terms of addressing certain material. As differentiated learning creates a group learning environment, or project -based group project approach is similar to social constructivism.
Yu (2016) shares on the website, five non examples of differentiated instruction to contrast what ‘not to do’ in the instruction, such as: assigning ‘advanced’ students to teach Autism students, giving ‘advanced students no homework, grouping students into different classes based on their ability, letting advanced students out of class early or giving them more advantages, and allowing 
Differentiated Learning students perks which incites that in some way, they are more advanced than others. 

Yu (2016) reflects diagram from:,
Miller (2012) hares project-based learning on differentiated instruction and places importance on learning by recognizing students voices and choices, as well as emphasizing these aspects as key core elements. Project-based learning (PBL) as Miller (2012) refers lends itself by nature to differentiated instruction by its design being student driven. Learning and instruction is very much student centered and allows instructors to meet the needs of the students with disability like Peter in various possibilities. Effectiveness in differentiation can also be applied in assessment, as well, allowing the instructor to be present in daily management within a student’s learning

process. Dewey formulates that learning is active, in which people must be able to openly construct and create their own understanding through the experience and reflection process. As active learning lends its way to social constructivism by way of intrinsic and extrinsic factors, it relies on the instructor to be the facilitator, identifying what Peter needs to know, and guiding the instruction towards a problem-based learning designed for Autism student. Being an instructor who can facilitate ‘active learning’ takes a lot of requirement and skill towards discovery and allowing the learning process to flow. The objective surely cannot be about a grade or seeing the progress in a short amount of time. Discovery might mean that a lot of quality time is put into the lessons, followed by interactions between students and the instructor’s guidance.
For me, as an educator in the arts of music and dance, there are many ways I work with groups of adult learners. I allow processes to lead the instruction, which might be entirely different for each learner. I also try to lead the instruction as a group project, that enables the learning process to build collaboration in working as teams.
Miller (2012) concurs that grouping works, but sometimes homogenous grouping can be an effective way to differentiate in a project whereby you can group Peter with peers with the same issue like his. Sometimes by encouraging grouping students by peer level or experience, can lead the way for the need of intensive work to ensure they are getting the instruction they need. Differentiating for structure teams may all vary, and teaming should work very intentional with the how and why questioning, whether it be for academic ability, collaboration skills or social-emotional purposes. I have Peter who is also very introvert, and I try as much as possible to create opportunities where he can come out and join the group for the sake of social growth and development.
Reflection is an essential component of project -based learning. Nel et al, (2011) convey through research in a working pedagogy of differentiated learning, Peter should be reflecting on their work and setting goals for further learning. This aspect of learning creates opportunity for them to set personalized learning goals and for an instructor to target instruction specific to the goals they set. At specific milestones in a project, a teacher might have students reflect on what they’d learned so far in the subject topic, and then create goal statements for what they still wanted to learn. In this instance, the instructor designed activities to support Peter in learning not only what they wanted, but also what they needed to know.
This is probably one of my favorites in the efforts of providing mini-lessons to support students learning or empower specific the Autism student. I spend a lot of time, coaching one on one, in which gives me the advantage to know Peter and value the ‘what works and what doesn’t work.’ Teaching music classes allows me to facilitate and tailor each class towards various age groups. For example, Peter is also a very young learner and loves for me to use animals as remembering devices, whereas another student who is a little older, uses big long words, that I have trouble pronouncing. I encourage learners to incorporate a vocabulary in which they feel comfortable in identifying learning techniques and memory devices.
As, an instructor guides the classrooms for differentiated learning, topics can be facilitated by guiding the learners to move from learning stations, resources, and mini-lessons based on what they know (Miller, 2012).
Another essential component of Project Based Learning is student voice and choice, both in terms of what students produce and how they use their time. With multi dynamic environments, an instructor has the ability to show what they know in a variety of ways. From written components to artistic or theatrical means, one can differentiate the ways that students like Peter are assessed, as the student’s passions actively come into great play. I have a learning technique that uses a drum circle as a means of teaching historical content and meaning, while focusing on precise drum techniques in a poly-rhythmic understanding. I have just recently been given a high state of the art classroom to teach out of, with sophisticated projectors, in which I can put the printed drum patterns from the grid format on the board for all the learners to visually see.
This aspect has helped tremendously, especially with adult learners who may want to see the rhythmic patterns. I also, teach from another basis of ‘if you can say it, you can dance it, you can play it approach.’ This format offers a choice and voice in experiencing the instruction in many different formats for learning that embraces differentiated learning, while enabling social connectiveness, as well.
Cole (2008) rectifies that assessments can look the same for the Autism student. They can also look different, in the way that Peters learns in various ways. In addition, when an educator can check for understanding, assessing in different ways also applies. Whether it is a collaboration project, oral recitation, of written responses setting up formative assessment allows an instructor to differentiate the instruction. In music, I have a mini-concert where each student gets a chance to play the repertoire of music they have been working on, and the experience of doing such allows me to assess each one in the process, without being judgmental. In the drum circle format, I can assess as the whole group is working together to achieve a teamwork goal.
Whether it is teamwork or individual work, collaboration is constantly occurring on a regular basis within project driven learning. As, much as I emphasize collaboration processes, with the content I teach, individual instruction is just as important at times so that a student like Peter is not left out. As an educator, one needs to know the learning environment, because some students learn better on their own, and others learn better in a team, and then some of the same students that learn in a team, might need times of individual learning for their growth, development and reflection. In fact, we all need time to process and think alone just as much as we need time to learn from our peers. I believe like Cole (2008) mentions, making sure to balance group and individual lessons, in their appropriateness creates versatile instruction, so that an instruction is based on supporting a collaborative environment while allowing time to meet students on an individual basis.
I believe developing intuitiveness with a differentiated learning style, makes an educator, find ways to apply multi-dynamic instruction for the Autism student, as well as create formative and summative assessments to allow for student passions and goals, while managing the process to meet students where they are and move them forward.
Two examples:
Differentiated instruction:
• Students select a historical understanding musical piece or rhythm within a particular culture of people and provide background of music based on commitment to learn a rhythm, or totally understand the format it is used within the culture. Information is provided by instruction, while students can research information on their own.
• Students select how they want to represent the information, whether they facilitate the rhythm to others, or organize a group involvement.
• Students can select partners or work individually based upon their preference.
Using Technology:
• Technology can create greater opportunities for students to find more information and interpret, represent, and provide evidence of the knowledge gained in a meaningful way.
• In addition, this gives opportunity for diverse learners to incorporate their understanding of the topic at-hand in a way that is personal and effective for them, perhaps though a power-point presentation, or illustrating a class through the use of technology.
• Predominantly an instructional design model that considers who, where, and how instruction occurs (Tomlinson & McTighe, 2006), can be delivered through e-learning
This aspect has allowed me to grow and develop my skills into a new-age thinking style, which diversifies learning techniques based on e-learning, or virtual learning. I have one student, who loves to work independently by learning things from the computer. This bothered me deeply at first, because African and Latin music traditions are based on oral history, that is to say, where oral communication is translated from elders to younger learners by way of transmitting lessons. But, this one particular student, always wanted to learn form the computer. So, I backed up, and allowed it to happen, releasing my authority and going with the process. This particular Peter became the greatest student, becoming most proficient in learning culture, history and rhythmic patterns, and I just had to learn to accept that our newer generations are adaptable in ways beyond my past and access of teaching modalities. I had to learn to go with the flow! I believe that is what differentiated learning is about. Sometimes an instructor, has to be able to step out of their own way, in order to allow curriculum to support the whole spectrum of students learning and create endless possibilities for students in the process.
Cole, R. W. (2008). Educating everybody’s children: Diverse teaching
strategies for diverse learners (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
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Miller, A. (2012). Cited from url: Retrieved May 22, 2019.
MONK, S., MILLS, M., RENSHAW, P., GEELAN, D., KEDDIE, A., & GOWLETT, C. (2013). Investigating “moments” for student agency through a differentiated music curriculum. International Journal of Pedagogies & Learning, 8(3), 179–193.
Nel, N., Kempen, M., & Ruscheinski, A. (2011). Differentiated pedagogy as inclusive practice: The “Learn not to Burn” curriculum for learners with severe intellectual disabilities. Education as Change, 15(2), 191–208.
VanTassel-Baska, J. (2014). Curriculum Issues: Back to the Future–Differentiated Curriculum in the Rear View Mirror. Gifted Child Today, 37(3), 200–201. Retrieved from direct=true&db=eric&AN=EJ1030279&site=eds-live&scope=site
Yu, C. (2016) 10 Examples & Non-Examples of Differentiated Instruction. Retrieved from URL. website,
May 22, 2019.

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