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I know some teachers who are having perents question why their child isn't doing the same thing as everyone else and how does grouping kids together that made the same grade (readiness) help?   Anyone have suggestions?  How do you explain DI to parents?  I know it makes perfect sense to us and as a parent I would love that my child was getting exactly what she needed and that the teacher paid attention and knew what my child needed, but some parents are suspicious. 

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I like to give parents a concrete example of an activity we might use in class that incorporates a wide range of ability levels. For example, last week I asked middle school students to use wikki stix to build an representation of the writing process. Some students build very concrete representations, while others build very abstract, higher level thinking examples. My job as a teacher is to provide activities that allow all levels to flourish. ( More on wikki stix at or at my blog )

It can be equally frustrating when you deal with parents who don't have much respect for technology and how it enhances the classroom experience. Parents who want whole group instruction where the teacher is the focal point in the classroom and all kids are doing the same structured activities at the same time. Fortunately there is mroe and mroe buy in that education has to be differentiated to meet the needs of individual students. The biggest challenge is finding the motivation in children to learn both independently and in small groups. Kids who lack motivation to learn are those same ones who don't do well when assessed. Language issues are another big factor but I find motivation to try their best is the biggest road block.

Carol Ann Tomlinson's newest book, Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom, has a whole chapter devoted to getting the parents and students informed about DI. She suggests spending time talking about who children are as learners and how different they all are. It's quite a good chapter - worth the read. This is an ASCD book, so many school principals will have a copy. I have also used a doctor's office analogy. Most parents understand that doctors treat each patient according to their unique needs, and it wouldn't make sense for everyone to get the same medicine/treatment.



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