Differentiation Through Responsive Pedagogy

In the Saskatchewan context, differentiation is addressed through the Adaptive Dimension1 which enables all teachers to respond to student diversity, including their strengths and needs, interests, backgrounds, life experiences and motivations. The Adaptive Dimension refers to the concept of making adjustments to any or all of the following variables: learning environment, instruction, assessment and resources. Adjustments to these variables are intended to make learning meaningful and appropriate and to support student achievement. Tomlinson (1999) states, “Differentiation is an organized yet flexible way of proactively adjusting teaching and learning to meet kids where they are and help them to achieve maximum growth as learners” (p.14). 2

It is important to have a process to follow to meet the needs of students who are not currently meeting mathematics outcomes within classroom instruction.

The Dufour’s Professional Learning Community questions are helpful to guide a process for intervention (Saskatchewan Reads Team, 2015).4

You can’t separate Instruction from Assessment. You can’t separate instruction and assessment from differentiation, you can’t separate instruction, assessment and differentiation from intervention.

Multiple ways of showing what you know — I provided the learning space. Show me how you know.

“The first line of instruction is always the classroom. No series of interventions – even highly effective ones – can take the place of good classroom instruction that builds a rich base and creates a community of learners.”3 – Fountas and Pinnell (2009)

Questions for reflection
  • How have I differentiated the instructional approaches in my classroom to meet the individual needs of my students?
  • How have I implemented the essentials of math instruction and differentiated the instructional approaches in my classroom to meet the individual needs of my students?

1Government of Saskatchewan, M. (2017). Adaptive Dimension. Retrieved 30 November 2020, from  https://publications.saskatchewan.ca/api/v1/products/86567/formats/100225/download.

2Same as above

3Fountas, I., & Pinnell, G. (2009). When readers struggle: Teaching that works. Portsmouth, OH: Heinemann.

4Saskatchewan Reads Team. (n.d.). Saskatchewan Reads. Retrieved 5 August 2020, from https://saskatchewanreads.wordpress.com/process-for-responsiv-reading-instruction/. The Dufour model speaks to what students are expected to learn. The SK Math language is what students are expected to know, understand and be able to do.

5Government of Saskatchewan, Actualizing a Needs-Based Model, 2015.