In defense of differentiated instruction

December 13th, 2011

Author Rick Wormeli (Metaphors & Analogies, Differentiation) has become concerned with growing criticism of differentiated instruction, particularly from recently published books and articles by Mike Schmoker (Focus: Elevating the Essentials to Radically Improve Student Learning) and Daniel Willingham (Why Don’t Students Like School?).

He explains: “Some administrators are telling me that their teachers refuse to implement differentiated instruction or don’t give credence to seminars and books on the topic because of the arguments put forth by Schmoker, Willingham, and others who’ve jumped on their bandwagon.”

In the October issue of Middle Ground magazine, Rick responds to what he views as a mischaracterization of differentiated instruction, especially the generalization of “learning styles” criticisms to the breadth of DI. You can read Rick’s article here.

You can read Mike Schmoker’s September 2010 EdWeek commentary, “When Pedagogic Fads Trump Priorities,” here.

Entry Filed under: Assessment

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Bill Van Evera  |  March 31st, 2013 at 7:36 pm

    Hi Rick,

    I knew you way back in the 90’s at the VMSC conference when the SOL’s first came out. I’ve followed your work for a long time.

    Here’s my question – Did Mike Schmoker ever respond to your article “Setting the Pedagogy Straight”

    I am curious because the original article strikes me as similar to what happens in education. Diane Ravitch wrote book called “Left Back” But it was based entirely on her own misunderstanding of what progressive education is all about. She later admitted as much in her book “Life and Death.”

    The other question I have, is where are you presenting these days? I’d like to come and see you talk.

    Bill Van Evera

  • 2. Margo McCann  |  July 11th, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Thank you for the post! Each year it becomes more and more challenging to come up with differentiated instruction strategies. So this summer I have decided to reach out to the internet for some help. Rick’s article was a great read for anyone in education!

  • 3. kathleen bernard  |  December 10th, 2016 at 7:24 am

    I too am diving into best practices on differentiation. I find all of the different voices helpful, but also overwhelming. Real and productive structure is needed.

    I have moved from elementary to middle school quite recently and organizing time is more challenging when you have only a 50 minute chunk of time.

    I use your Summarization book weekly. I love the organization of it and the application ease. What do you think about organizing your powerful vision like that for differentiation.

    Thanks fro being a voice for students in the middle. I keep looking for Tweets that continue your vision.

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