As students continue to bring their own unique backgrounds and abilities to the classroom, it is extremely important to capitalize on their strengths, and by differentiating instruction to meet the needs of students with different learning styles, we can maximize their potential for learning. According to Groenke & Scherff, "there is one simple principle that constitutes our understanding and use of Differentiated Reading Instruction in the secondary English classroom: the belief in the potential of every student to become a capapable, confident, engaged, skillful reader" (6). Here you will find just a few of the methods I will use to incorporate DRI in the classroom.
- Student-Centered Learning: Who are my students, and what are their strengths and weaknesses? What are their entry-level reading skills? What do they like to read? By regularly anticipating and responding to my students' needs I will be able to differentiate the content in a way that helps them achieve their goals.
- Ongoing Assessments: Diagnosing student needs on a regular basis will help me identify their strengths, as well as areas of need. It is important to have a good grasp on a student's individual readiness, or capabilities as a writer; their interests and attitudes, or how a student feels about reading; and reading habits, or how a student reads (G&S, 7). Doing so will help me make decisions about differentiating reading instruction in terms of content (what a student is to learn), process (how they will learn, whether it is small group or whole-class discussion, etc.), and product (how a student displays what they have learned, such as tests, skits, etc.).
- Appropriate, Blended Instuction: DRI requires that teachers use a variety of instructional strategies to differentiate learning. Some ways of differentiating content could be through "jigsaw" activities in which students would work in small groups (designated by student readiness and interest) and then reassemble in a second, larger group to share content and skills learned during the first group task (G&S, 8).
- Appropriate Texts: Since students' reading readiness can stretch from first grade to college level, it is extremely important to match individual learners to appropriate texts. Furthermore, students' interests vary considerably. Some students may be fans of online fiction or e-books, but never pick up an actual book. Others simply struggle to engage with classic texts due to a seeming lack of relevance to today's popular culture.