The concept of differentiated instruction has been misinterpreted by many people over the years, including us! To set the record straight we want new teachers to understand some common myths and misconceptions associated with differentiated instruction. We hope that after reading some of these "busted" myths that new teachers will have a better understand of what differentiated instruction is and why it is incredibly useful in all classrooms.

Myth 1: "Students will be unprepared for tests." (Busting Myths about Differentiated Instruction by Rick Wormeli)


Teachers and principles often believe that by differentiating the instructions, students will not have the appropriate tools to write tests. However, differentiated instruction is doing what is fair and developmentally appropriate for students. The point of differentiated instruction is to teach in whatever way best suits the student so they understand the material in depth.

Myth 2: "Differentiation Means Unbalanced Workloads." (Busting Myths about Differentiated instruction by Rick Wormeli)


It is not the objective of Differentiated Instruction to minimize the workload for struggling students, meanwhile increasing the workload for those who "get it." Teachers need to keep the tasks relevatively similar for students because the subject matter is important. It is okay to change the task for students, but you have to make sure it does not increase or decrease the workload.

Myth 3: "Differentiated Instruction is only for students with learning disabilities." (23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction by Mark Pennington)


Simply saying that because students learn differently, they automatically have a disability. This is clearly false. However, implementing differentiated instruction into the classroom will ensure that student strengths are taken into consideration for their learning.

Myth 4: "Differentiated Instruction requires way to much time, preparation, assessment, correction, and record-keeping." (23 Myth of Differentiated Instruction by Mark Pennington)


It is important for teachers to differentiate their instruction to ensure student success in a class, so taking the time to develop lesson plans with differentiated instruction is necessary. However, it does not need to be any more time consuming then creating a historic lecture-based lesson plan. Giving students freedom within the classroom to learn on their own, and providing resources to do so is a concise way to differentiate. It is inevitable tha time will be used when adapting lesson plans to incorporate various learning styles.

Myth 5: "Differentiated Instruction is only for new teacher who are struggling to cope with their class."


The importance of differentiated instruction in a classroom is significant and is crucial for student success. Differentiated Instruction is for all teachers to incorporate in their classroom. If you try it, you will see a growth in student productivity.

Myth 6: “Differentiated Instruction is only for heterogeneously mixed classes, not for tracked programs including remedial (intervention), regular, and accelerated (honors) divisions.” (23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction by Mark Pennington)


Differentiated instruction is not just for classrooms that we label as "diverse" or "mainstream." despite many objections, differentiated instruction is about meeting the needs of individual students and not groups, "per se". Students in any program can benefit from differentiated instruction regardless of their academic standing or behavioral issues.

Myth 7: "Differentiated Instruction “dumbs-down” the level of classroom instruction because kind-hearted teachers are loathe to “leave any child behind” (23 Myths of Differentiated Instruction by Mark Pennington)


It is commonly believed that teachers that use differentiated instruction will slow down the pace of the curriculum or make adjusts to the curriculum to ensure that all students succeed. This is definitely not the case. Studies show that teachers that incorporate differentiated instruction actually tend to focus more on individual mastery of skills as opposed to "teaching to the center" in terms of academic abilities (a trait often seen in teacher who do not use differentiated instruction). Because differentiated instruction focuses on individual achievements and takes into consideration the learning preferences of all students, more students will succeed in their courses without content being altered in any way.

Myth 8: Students will not be able to compete in the real world (Busting Myths About Differentiated Instruction by Rick Wormelli)


Differentiation is not about "dumbing down" course content. Differentiated instruction is about giving students more opportunities to succeed in classrooms. For example, with differentiated instruction a teacher might not just teach his/her class how to take notes one way, he/she might demonstrate upwards of 10 different ways to the class (Wormelli, 33). Students will actually be more capable of competing in this "real world" because they will have actually learned the required material for something like an entry level university course because of differentiated instruction in their secondary schools.

Myth 9: If we don't differentiate, students will toughen up (Busting Myths About Differentiated Instruction by Rick Wormelli)


If we don't differentiate, not all of our students will learn. For some students if their teachers do not differentiate they will not learn enough course material to graduate. If we want our students to "toughen up" so that they will be able to go on to university or find jobs, they we should differentiate. especially because the real world is differentiated! There are numerous ways that people can accomplish the same goal in a workplace. For example, a mechanic that needs to fix a car can either check a manual, seek advice from a superior, watch an instructional video etc etc. There are numerous ways in which everyday people do everyday things. Shouldn't school be the same way?

Myth 10: There is only one way to differentiate (Busting Myths About Differentiated Instruction by Rick Wormelli)


This has got to be one of the biggest misconceptions at all. There are many ways to differentiate instruction and that is what this website aims to show you! Teachers need to keep in mind that what works for one class may not work for another class. If you differentiate your instruction for one lesson one year, it may be a total flop the next year. There are many ways to differentiate your instruction and teach so that your students learn best. We hope this website gives you some ideas for how you can differentiate your teaching!

References/Resources



Pennington, Mark. (15 February 2010) “23 Myths on Differentiated Instruction.” Pennington Publishing Blog. [Online] http://penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/23-myths-of-differentiated-instruction/

Wormeli, Rick. Differentiation: From Planning to Practice Grades 6-12. Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.

Wormeli, Rick. (March 2005). “Busting Myths About Differentiated Instruction.” Principal Leadership [Online] http://people.uleth.ca/~sapdc/social_studies2/teachertools/strategies/DiffLearning_Wormelli.pdf