Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design

Differentiation in the
Science Classroom: Tips
and Strategies that Work
Mary Lightbody, Ph.D.
The Ohio State University Newark
[email protected]
Research supports the need for DI
Students come to
the classroom with
preconceptions about
how the world works.
from How People Learn, Bransford, Brown, & Cockling
Operational Definition(s)
Think –>
A process through which student needs are met
different avenues to content
different ways to processing, constructing, or
making sense of ideas; and
different ways to demonstrate understanding.
Begin with the students
• Get to know them
• Use small-groups
• Offer many ways to explore
• Use informal assessments regularly
• Consider how students learn science
Match instruction to need
• Readiness
• Interest
• Learning Profile
• Multiple Categories
Example #1
• Based on Learning Styles of 3rd graders
• Big idea: some events in nature have a
repeating pattern
• Generalization: The water cycle is a repeating
• Differentiated products
from Indiana Department of Education
Auditory learners
• Read A Drop Around
the World
• Present ideas through audio means:
Reader’s Theater
Radio broadcast
Visual learners
• Read Cloudy with a Chance
of Meatballs
• Relate ideas to water cycle
• Show understanding through visual:
– Chart
– Concept map
– Graphic
Kinesthetic learners
• Create a working model of the water cycle
• Materials:
– Clear jar
– Hot water
– Ice
– Foil
• Explain what is happening in the cycle
Example # 2
• Curry and Samara matrix for 7th graders
Pre-planning through a grid of options
Bloom’s Taxonomy (on x-axis)
Content on y-axis (specific to big ideas)
Teacher assigns students in small groups
May have 2 -4 groups working at a time on
different learning opportunities
Basic / Basic
Higher / Basic
Describe the energy transformations
in lighting up a light bulb, and
demonstrate understanding
through a concept map.
Generate a Rube Goldberg
Model showing 4 energy
Basic / Big Idea
Higher / Big Idea
Identify ways to conserve
energy in your community
and demonstrate understanding
through a letter to the editor.
Compare and Contrast energy
consumption and pros/cons of
regular gas engines, hybrid
engines, and electric engines in
cars, and prepare a multimedia
Presentation to share.
Example # 3
• Tiered Assignments / Kathie Nunley
• Students contract for and self-select a grade
• Student choices at 3 levels:
– Everyone does C level
– Some students do B level
– A few students do A level
• 10th grade Earth Science unit on earthquakes
– Jon Stern, New Paltz High School, New York
Objectives for unit
• Understand scales that measure earthquakes.
• Determine the location of earthquakes.
• Recognize the most likely locations of
earthquakes and volcanoes.
• Understand how seismic waves can be used to
infer information about the earth's interior.
• Know seismic hazards and appropriate
C Level
Select options to add to 65 pts:
• Take notes on 4 assigned topics (5 ea)
• Create a web page or PPT (5)
• Create flash cards for list of terms (5)
• Select two or three book assignments (5 ea)
• Complete two lab investigations (10 ea)
• Watch video (5) and complete worksheet (5)
• Bring in newspaper articles on topic (5)
B Level
Select one (15 ea)
• Design an Earthquakes Preparedness Brochure
• Internet Lab: Ranking Hazardous Volcanoes
• Computer Lab: Earthquake Patterns
A Level
Select one (20 ea)
• What are the relative advantages of the
Richter Scale vs. the Mercalli Scale in the
study of earthquakes
• Determine whether earthquakes or volcanoes
are more dangerous, and defend your choice.
• How concerned do residents of the our region
need to be about earthquakes?
Differentiate …
• Content
• Process
• Product
• Environment
A Dynamic Duo
• Differentiated Instruction
– (Carol Ann Tomlinson)
• Understanding by Design
– Grant Wiggins and Jay McTighe
Tomlinson, C.A. and McTighe, J. (2006) Integrating differentiated
instruction and understanding by design: Connecting content
and kids. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Identify desired learning results
for the subject and topics
you teach.
Determine acceptable
evidence of
student learning.
Plan learning experiences
and instruction based
on Steps 1 and 2.
Regard learner differences
as inevitable, important,
and valuable.
Address learner’s
affective needs.
Articulate learning
goals clearly.
Use assessment aligned
with instruction
to make decisions.
Employ flexibility in
instructional planning
and classroom routines.
Gather evidence of
student learning in
a variety of formats.
Strategies and Tips
Engage them
Make it real
Make it current
Make it meaningful
Give time for practice
Adjust reading level of materials
Strategies and Tips (con’t)
Provide the right amount of challenge (ZPD)
Enable self-motivation
Deal with what is “fair”
Provide real audiences
Be effective and efficient
Start small and add more over time
Ask for help along the way
One final thought …
Change is a process
not an event.
[email protected]

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