Reconcilable Differences? Standards-Based Teaching and Differentiation
Author: Tomlinson, C.A.
Publisher: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development (ASCD)
Publication Date: 2000, September
Journal: Educational Leadership
Journal Volume: 58(1)
Full text available online at: http://www.jamesvilledewitt.org/tfiles/folder257/ReconcileDITomlinson.pdf
Abstract (written by WestEd)
Differentiation is more a philosophy about teaching and learning than a recipe or instructional strategy. A standards-based curriculum tells us what to teach, while differentiation tells us how to reach more, if not all, students. The teacher who differentiates instruction believes that:
- same-age students differ significantly in learning styles and interests, prior experiences, pacing, and support;
- students learn best when pushed slightly beyond where they can work without assistance; and
- the central job of schools is to assist every student to achieve their best.
Tomlinson presents a series of questions. If the answers are positive, then teachers can explore ways to refine the curriculum, providing diverse pathways to reach the standards. If the answers are negative, then the educational institution needs to address the underlying problems so that standards-based teaching and differentiation will be compatible.
- Do the standards reflect what is valued by experts in the discipine?
- Are we using standards as a curriculum or are they reflected in the curriculum?
- Does our focus on standards enliven, rather than dampen, the climate for learning?
- Do standards make learning more relevant and alluring to students?
- Does our use of standards reflect that students are individual human beings?
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