Long term planning - differentiation

 Differentiation strategies across the curriculum

Differentiation involves recognising that children differ from one another in how they learn, in what they can learn and in the pace and progress of their learning. Differentiation is concerned with appropriately matching teaching and learning approaches to the child, so that learning goals and work completion targets are realistic and attainable for them.

A teacher plans for differentiation to cater for the diversity of children’s learning needs. Differentiation includes looking at the children’s interests, previous experiences in the area of learning, level of motivation and the pace of learning.

The capacity to plan for differentiation will increase as the teacher becomes more familiar with the children. The teacher will regularly collaborate with the learning support/resource teacher in order to identify appropriate strategies for children with special educational needs.

The illustrated table included as a screenshot below (click to enlarge) consists of a menu of differentiation strategies adopted from theGuidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Disabilities (NCCA, 2007) and from the  Draft Guidelines for Teachers of Exceptionally Able Students (NCCA, 2007). They are grouped in the table under learning content, process and outcome to promote clarity. The table relates to fifth class and is for illustrative purposes only. 

A teacher may wish to include a similar table of strategies in his/her long-term plan.

In the short-term plan, the differentiation strategies will be developed in greater detail and should be informed by reflection on actual learning outcomes.

Please note that it will not be feasible to apply more than a small number of strategies at any one time.

The examples included in the table are for illustrative purposes only and should be replaced by the class teacher with examples relevant to the children in his/her own class/es. Should a teacher decide to include the name/s of the child/ren for whom a strategy will be used, then the use of initials e.g. DL, is recommended.