Activity 3

Defining Differentiation

The National Curriculum Council defined differentiation as "the process by which curriculum objectives, teaching methods, assessment, resources and learning activities are planned to cater for the needs of individual pupils" (NCC 1993).

Tomlinson and Allan (2002) say that differentiation occurs "when a teacher reacts responsively to a learner's needs".

REFLECT: Reflect on these and the following definitions of differentiation (taken from Lowe (2005)). Which definition appeals to you most?

  1. Differentiation is the matching of work to the different capabilities of individuals or groups in order to extend their learning;
  2. Differentiation is about entitlement of access to a full curriculum in order that every pupil can reach their full potential (McNamara and Moreton, 1997);
  3. Differentiation means ‘shaking up' what goes on in the classroom so that students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn (Tomlinson 1999);
  4. Differentiation is a planned process of intervention by the teacher in the pupil's learning.

WRITE: Write your own definition of differentiation. It may be a composite of the key features of the definitions which you have just read.

(Allow 15 minutes)