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Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?


Volumes have been written about differentiating instruction for all learners in the inclusive classroom. It sounds wonderful in theory, but how practical is it to expect one teacher to differentiate a lesson to accommodate up to 6 different grade levels in one classroom? With emphasis placed on bringing up the lowest achievers to proficiency and teachers’ evaluations on the line, who stands most to loose from this approach?

This week’s #gtchat explored the practicality of differentiation. It was not surprising the strong showing of teachers at this chat. Few thought it was a bad idea, but even fewer had seen differentiation actually occur in their schools. There was consensus on a few points – differentiation requires ongoing professional development and ability grouping to work for high ability learners. Otherwise, it is a mere excuse to save the school district money by forgoing its obligations to provide all students with the opportunity to experience annual growth. A full transcript of the chat may be found here.


Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?

On Differentiation

Gifted Issues: Davidson Database “Is Differentiated Instruction a Hollow Promise?”

What Research Says About Differentiated Learning

All Together Now Educating High and Low Achievers in the Same Classroom

The Icarus Syndrome: Why Do Some High Flyers Soar While Others Fall?” (pdf)

How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms (Google Books Preview) Carol Ann Tomlinson

The Rationale for Differentiated Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms via @ASCD

Investigating the Impact of Differentiated Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms (pdf)

Palo Alto USD Suspends All Gifted Programing

Educating Gifted Students in Reg Classroom: Efficacy, Attitudes, & Differentiation

of Instruction (pdf)

Gifted Challenges: Eliminate gifted education (?)

The Differentiator from @ByrdseedGifted

Using Bulletin Boards to Differentiate the Classroom Environment 

Cybraryman’s Differentiated Instruction Page

A Case Against Differentiated Instruction” by Ginger Lewman

Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design (Chapter 1) from ASCD

Gifted and Talented Differentiated Instruction Livebinder from Leslie Graves

Differentiation Livebinder from Leslie Graves

Clip art courtesy of Discovery Education.

#gtchat : Curriculum Differentiation



Our chat on ‘Curriculum Differentiation’ began by discussing what differentiation was and noted that differentiation can be based on students, curriculum, instruction or learning environment. (Kaplan) You can differentiate where, content, resources and product. (Byrdseed Gifted) The transcript may be found here.

Special thanks goes to Leslie Graves for her substantial contribution of pertinent links to this chat to add to those provided by the moderator. Teachers will find these links a great resource in learning about differentiation for gifted students.


Differentiation of Instruction From @HoagiesGifted 

The Concept of Differentiation (Tempo – TAGT)

Four Ways to Differentiate Objectives From @Byrdseed Gifted 

The Differentiator From @Byrdseed Gifted 

Strategies for Differentiating Instruction: Best Practices for the Classroom  (Amazon)

Teaching Gifted Kids in Today’s Classroom: Strategies and Techniques Every Teacher Can Use  (Amazon)

Twice Exceptional/Twice Successful: Back to School Strategies that Work  (SENG)

Developing Mathematical Talent: They Don’t Have to Be Bored to Tears Ann Lupkowski-Shoplik (pdf -CMU)

How The Gifted Brain Learns (Sousa)  (Amazon)

Tips for Parents: The Gifted Brain & Learning: At Home and at School

Differentiation of Curriculum and Instruction 

Practical Strategies For the Classroom Part I: Pre-assessment (pdf)

Teachers: Practical Strategies for the Classroom, Part 2: Content, Process, Product (pdf)

Dare to Differentiate

Gifted & Talented and Differentiated Instruction

Differentiation for High Ability Learners

Group Work

Differentiated Instruction from @cybraryman1

Differentiating Instruction to Promote Rigor and Engagement for Advanced and Gifted Students (Kingore)

Differentiating Instruction For Advanced Learners In the Mixed-Ability Middle School Classroom

Helping Gifted Kids Soar (pdf)

Differentiated Instruction Activities

Books by Laurie Westphal

Implementing Curriculum Compacting and Type III Studies to Reverse Underachievement

Universal Themes and Generalizations


#gtchat: Special Guest, Ian Byrd

Last week, #gtchat welcomed special guest, Ian Byrd. Ian is a former gifted classroom teacher, nationally known speaker and author of the popular website and companion newsletter, Byrdseed Gifted. topics discussed included differentiation (“It’s not “differentiation” to ask gifted kids to help other students or read a book when they’re finished.), how to effectively teach writing skills to gifted learners, inspiring advanced mathematics learners and meeting social-emotional needs in public schools today. A link to the transcript on Storify can be found here.


About Byrdseed Gifted

Ian’s Website, Byrdseed Gifted 

Ian’s Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Subscribe to Ian’s Newsletter

Improve Your Gifted Classroom from Ian Byrd

The Differentiator

Five Unexpected Traits of Gifted Students

Graphing Characters

Sensitivity in Gifted Kids

Differentiating Comprehension Skills

The Curious Case of Imposter Syndrome  

Cybraryman’s Passion-Based Learning Page

Cybraryman’s Differentiated Instruction Page

Cybraryman’s Scaffolding Page

Integrating Character Analysis with Social-Emotional Needs

From @HoagiesGifted “Books for Children, Featuring Gifted Children

3 Books with Gifted Female Main Characters

7 More Gifted Female Protagonists

The Flip Book (e-book)

The Flip Book, Too (e-book)

Making Well-Formed Judgments in Science

Creating in Science

Curiosity Fridays

Introducing Depth and Complexity

To Show or Not to Show (Work)

Inductive Learning in Math

Topic: Games

TAGT ’12

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