# Differentiated Instruction

I just learned what the phrase “differentiated instruction” means. Jeanette Stein told me on #MathChat that for her, differentiated instruction is

Meeting kids where they are at to take them where they can go.

I love it!

So I read the article Jeanette shared from Teach-ology. Seems differentiated instruction is a fancy term for focusing on the individual students rather than the teacher.

### I’ve been doing it for years!

The first few semesters I taught math (back in 1996), I would lecture. I mean straight up, lecture. But soon I learned that it wasn’t about me.

Over the next 16 years I watched the students. I quit spending cheap clomid so much time and energy on preparing lectures and much more time and energy thinking about the comments and questions I got from the students.

I learned how students get quickly confused by the simplest of things – like solving an equation in one variable with four terms.

I learned that the way something is said is much more important than what the words are.

I learned that many of the “math rules” were merely tricks some clever person thought of as a mnemonic device. And that if these tricks are forced on certain students, they’ll likely never understand what’s really happening.

The biggest trick/hoax is PEMDAS or the Order of Operations. Other math rules that get highly confusing are the Zero Product Rule and cross-multiplying (a term I personally despise).

And most importantly, I’ve learned that creating a safe and inquiry based learning environment is the key to differentiated learning.

### And there’s more!

In considering my classroom experiences, I’m finding many other instances and examples of differentiated instruction. So this is the first in a series on tactics to improve your own differentiated classroom. Here are the proposed topics/titles:

• Eliminating the Fear – How to Engage Students without Calling on Them
• Show Your Work! – What’s up with that?
• Grading in a Differentiated Classroom – Why Teaching Math Is Harder than Giving Birth
• If Shakespeare Taught Math – How to Use Metaphors to Teach Math
• If Picasso Taught Math – How to Use Drawings to Teach Math
• How to Teach Your Students to Think Like a Mathematician

Wow – that’s rather ambitious of me, isn’t it?

I’ll shoot for these once a week and you can find a link to the series (this article) in the sidebar under “Quick References.”

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