Many people are differentiating in their classroom today, but are they doing it effectively? Carol Ann Tomlinson starts by describing two different classrooms and both are covering the same unit. One classroom is very conventional, while the other appears to be very engaging and differentiated. Tomlinson then studies the two classrooms and there are clear faults with both of them. The first classroom is very strong, but no differentiation is used, while the second class may be engaging but has no focus or direction. Tomlinson seems to feel a combination of the two are essential for success and she offers another approach by displaying a third class. She details how improvements in differentiation are made. Even though Tomlinson also discusses why and why the teacher didn’t have good differentiation.
“Successful teaching requires two elements: student understanding and students engagement” (Tomlinson, 1999, p.14) I think this is a powerful statement; it is the basis of teaching, but sometimes you have to go back to the basics. Tomlinson raised the issues how the process of teaching and learning can be taken by different teachers and comparing the classrooms in this way really showed how different teaching styles can change the dynamic of the classroom instruction.
First of all, I agree with Tomlinson and think that even though students learn in various ways, the essential skills and content are still the same. Part of a teacher’s responsibility is to know the behavior struggles his/her students have as well as student’s learning styles. According to the article to make good differentiation work the first step is to “know where you want to end up before we start out – and plan to get there.” (Tomlinson, 1999, p.13) So as a teacher, it’s very important to have a differentiated instruction in the classroom to help students be successful. In my opinion, it seems that our educational system sadly tends to put more emphasis on student results.
As a conclusion, I feel the ability of each of us is different, but all of us have the same potential or a chance to be an effective and differentiated teacher. I agree with the author’s model where the differentiated of curriculum and instruction will only be attained if the level of students participation and understanding is a consideration, but should be expected in today’s classrooms.