At the 2015 Content in Context session Inside the Differentiated Classroom, the presenters made clear that differentiation and individualized/personalized learning are not the same. Differentiation is a philosophy of teaching and learning that includes social and emotional elements—not just looking at student progress in one particular subject or lesson. Below are highlights from the session.
- Personalization comes from the advance of technology and is just one part of differentiation.
- There is no consistent framework for differentiation—every teacher does it differently.
- What many teachers need, though, is practical examples (videos, for example) that show how master teaches have differentiated across different content and learning abilities.
- Differentiation, though, is not a rigid framework, but more about being flexible with how teachers group students and lessons. Instead of forcing differentiation, teachers should look for times when it makes sense in the classroom.
- In addition to professional development materials, what teachers really need from publishers are materials that incorporate the social and emotional needs of the children into their everyday subjects like math and ELA. As long as educators have the social-emotional needs on their radar, they will be able to help students.