Pre-Workshop Queries

Putting Differentiation to Work in the Classroom

September 27 - 28, 2019

Chiang Mai, Thailand

answered by Course Leader Carol Ann Tomlinson 

How do you differentiate in art, when visual art is already a differentiated subject as each student expresses themselves differently?


From my perspective, one important aspect in the scenario you describe is that you are open to students expressing themselves in different ways, and no doubt encourage and support that.  (My experience in visual arts classes wasn’t so open in that way, unfortunately.) For me, though, that still leaves lots of room for a teacher to mentor/guide/support/stretch students as they learn.  I’ll note a few of those ways here, but there are many, many more.  


The approach you choose, of course, would depend on your students’ interests and needs and your goals as their teacher. You could create rubrics that delineate traits of whatever form the students’ work is taking at a given time, showing escalating progress from novice to apprentice to practitioner to expert (or whatever designations work best for you and your students), taking care to help students think about their own work and what next steps they might take to continue to grow and polish their art. Likewise, you could meet with students in small groups while other students continue with their work to show them models of work that are a bit beyond their current levels of proficiency, helping them analyze/reflect on what they are seeing and how they might apply what they are learning from the analysis. 


You could provide different practice work for students depending on their preferred techniques and current levels of strength in what they are producing. You could find additional ways to have the students connect their work with areas of personal interest (e.g. music, art, theater, history, science, sports, commercial design, etc.)  The connection to personal passions tends to be both expanding and integrative—and motivating!!


You could help those who are more advanced find mentors for their work outside of school.  Students could determine meaningful audiences for their work, develop exhibits of their work for those groups in any one of a number of formats that’s appealing to them. You could use peer feedback in a variety of ways depending on the needs and strengths of students.


Those are just a few possibilities.  No doubt you use some of them already.  Again, there are a great number of ways to reach out to students in any subject based on their current developmental levels, interests, approaches to learning, social/emotional needs, etc.  And, within each of those possibilities, there is pretty nearly always a next step we can take to use the approach more dynamically.

I hope that helps a little,



Differentiation in the MFL classroom? 
Provide examples of differentiation when learning languages?


During the conference, I will use examples from a good range of content areas and grade levels, including MFL.  It’s also my intent to share instructional strategies that are applicable to a wide range of content areas—including language.  I was a German major in college and taught German during part of my public school teaching years, so I have some familiarity with your role (knowing, of course, that no two teaching experiences are a perfect match).  In addition, because there will be two of us working with the group during the workshop, there’ll be opportunity to consult with me or my colleague, Marcia Imbeau) to discuss particular needs and goal for your work.


Let me know if you have other questions,


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