Reply To: Differentiated Instruction in the Music Classroom
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Chiming in here!!! I’m finishing a big project that completes a Master’s degree so I’ve been working on this topic. I love the work Carol Ann Tomlinson has done so looking up things she has written might be helpful. This article is a succinct overview of differentiation: http://www.readingrockets.org/article/263/
I used flexible grouping for recorder- that way everyone was practicing exactly where they needed to be and I could easily add or change music as necessary. For our composition projects I created a flexible rubric that allowed students to work at the level they were most comfortable in while meeting that requirements set by my state standards. I made sure to offer student choice wherever I could. I also learned that providing the right scaffolding for kids really matters. I used color coding for some, fingerings for others, writing in note names for a few… whatever it took for them to hear their success. And I pulled the scaffolding back as they needed it less and less. It takes time and energy but is worth it.
As for assessment… that really is important to differentiate effectively. Personally, I think most of us informally assess but it is worth creating a record in some way. Even taking a recording helps you evaluate later. Ask your IT person to help you set up a camera, ipad, or laptop that the students can use to help record performance.
According to Tomlinson, you can differentiate content, process, product, and learning environment. I think as musicians, we get caught up on the performance aspect and are used to the whole group doing the same thing (even though parts can be differentiated). I was happily surprised with a very difficult group of students this year when I finally figured out they worked really well in small groups. I told them what I expected them to be able to do and they found their way to get there- they also asked for help when they needed it. They were successful.