Kenilworth School District No. 38 supports the needs of all learners through the practice of differentiation. Put simply, differentiation is a way for teachers to meet students where they are in the learning process and help maximize their learning and achievement. Differentiation is a student-centered philosophy that calls for a wide variety of best practice teaching strategies. This ensures that all students are able to obtain optimal learning outcomes by varying content, process, and product based on student readiness, interests, and preferred learning styles. All students meet rigorous state standards, but the teacher may adjust the degree of support, depth of knowledge, and modes of expression to find ways to meet the needs and preferences of various students within the classroom.
Flexible grouping is a hallmark of differentiated instruction. Within a differentiated classroom, teachers regularly use forms of assessment, knowledge of students, and student input to arrange students in a wide variety of flexible groupings. According to Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson, a leading expert in the field: “In a differentiated classroom, students experience learning in many configurations –working in small groups (with peers having similar or different readiness, interests, or learning preferences), with a partner, individually, and as a whole group.” (The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of all Learners) Through the use of flexible groupings, teachers are able to act as learning facilitators and effectively customize learning activities for students ’ readiness, interests, and preferred learning style.