Product of Differentiated Instruction

The product is essentially what the student produces at the end of the lesson to demonstrate the mastery of the content: tests, evaluations, projects, reports, or other activities. Based on students' skill levels and educational standards, teachers may assign students to complete activities that demonstrate mastery of an educational concept (writing a report), or in a method the student prefers (composing an original song about the content, or building a 3-dimensional object that explains mastery of concepts in the lesson or unit). The product is an integral component of the differentiated model, as the preparation of the assessments will primarily determine both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ instruction will be delivered.

When an educator differentiates by product or performance, they are affording students various ways of demonstrating what they have learned from the lesson or unit (Anderson, 2007; Nunley, 2006). It is done by using menu unit sheets, choice boards or open-ended lists of final product options. It is meant to allow students to show what they learned based on their learning preferences, interests and strengths.

Examples of differentiated structures include Layered Curriculum, tiered instruction, tic-tac-toe extension menus, Curry/Samara models, RAFT writing activities, and similar designs. (see external links below)

In differentiated instruction, teachers respond to students’ readiness, instructional needs, interests and learning preferences and provide opportunities for students to work in varied instructional formats. A classroom that utilizes differentiated instruction is a learner-responsive, teacher-facilitated classroom where all students have the opportunity to meet curriculum foundation objectives. Lessons may be on inquiry based, problem based and project based instruction.

In a classroom where the teaching theory is based off differentiated instruction, students should feel welcomed and safe. The teacher teaches for success and fairness is evident. The teachers and students collaborate for mutual growth and success. In a differentiated classroom, there is a strong rationale for differentiating instruction based on assessment results, student readiness, interest, and learning profile. All instructions are clearly stated in a way that students easily understand. Students are aware of the classroom rules and know routines and procedures. There is a procedure for all activities completed in the classroom. These procedures should promote minimal noise, minimize unnecessary movement, encourage on-task behavior, have a plan for those who finish early, and promote independent work and responsibility. Differentiated instruction is proactive, qualitative, student-centered, and dynamic.