Rolling Hills of the Crossing
Green, forested mountain folds of the Great Tennessee Valley extend into the distance toward the Great Smoky Mountains.

Learning horizons and routes

Differentiation allows students to take different pathways through the learning. Sometimes they may be faced with a steep uphill climb, while on other parts of their learning journey the path may be easier for them to cope with.

Following a certain route with peers gives students confidence and also provides a resource for some individuals, when the path becomes a bit rugged in places.

Whether the teacher is directing students along specific routes or allowing the learners to choose a path they feel confident to tackle, what is important is that the teacher keeps a watchful eye on the progress that individuals are making.

In this way, the teacher can intervene to either redirect those individuals to an easier or more challenging path or provide the support to help them get to the end of that part of their learning journey.

Differentiated learning will provide each learner with the opportunities to move their learning forward on many fronts and to reach different points on the horizon.

It is not just the final destination that is important here but the skills, events and thinking, that happen as the journey proceeds, because it is these factors that will provide the learner with the tools and determination to tackle the next bit of learning and build their learning repertoire.

Having read and reflected on the text in this and the previous step, respond to the questions below by posting a summary of your thoughts in the comments section.

Think of something that you have had to struggle to learn. It does not have to have been recent.

  1. What factors helped you master this learning?
  2. Was a particular event or piece of support important in helping you become confident in this learning?
  3. How did you feel once you had mastered this new learning?
  4. What implications does this have for the learning experiences you plan for in your classroom?

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This article is from the free online course:

Differentiating for Learning in STEM Teaching

National STEM Learning Centre