" I assume that it means more than 'I am going to teach different ways at different times.'"
Why should it? How could it? I believe that physics classes with labs, by their nature, are already "differentiated." We present concepts, we drill, we demonstrate, we give problems to solve by individuals and by groups. If all you do is lecture, you're probably not in an up-to-date physics class. It's the history and literature people that are learning to mix it up these days. Ten-year-old physics methods are way ahead of their time.
I don't think differentiated means "identify different groups that will receive different methods of instruction." If someone does mean that, they are more politician than educator and don't deserve to receive attention. It would be easier to catch a mole of neutrinos than accomplish education by that method. Give a variety of methods (lecture, board work, group work, individual work, recitation, lab, demo, drill (repetition of concepts) ) to all. A student who is capable of learning will catch something in at least one, hopefully most, of these methods.
" how do I choose who gets what?"
Why would anyone want to do that in the context of a single course? This choice is made at the course level, not at the class meeting level.
" Once I know what it is that I am planning on doing, how do I answer if I am asked: 'Do you have evidence that shows that this is a good idea?'"
In other words: We want you to be innovative, be bold, mix it up. Oh, and make sure that you know it's going to work (be conservative about the outcome) before you try anything new. How stupid it that! Educationists are always dreaming up fruity ideas to justify their existence. If you go to their lectures, however, they never use the methods that they encourage others to use.
Please excuse my vitriolic response. I've dealt with enough of this educational assessment to see that none of the administrators ever pay attention to the results. All they want is to make sure you fill out the paperwork.
Do the minimum to make the suits happy (I teach in this many different ways.) and the maximum to make your students learn. Don't waste time worrying.
From: email@example.com [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org] On Behalf Of Philip Keller
Sent: Friday, September 25, 2009 12:22 PM
To: 'Forum for Physics Educators'
Subject: [Phys-l] differentiated instruction
OK, maybe Friday afternoon is not the time to open up this can of worms, but...
My district school goals include differentiated instruction. I have been to a couple of workshops but I have some questions that I was wondering if anyone here can help me with:
1. If I say "I am going to use differentiated instruction in my high school physics class," what exactly am I planning to do? I assume that it means more than "I am going to teach different ways at different times." I've read that it includes differentiating based on content, process and product. My course has only one official approved curriculum. How do I vary the content and how do I choose who gets what? Right now, I use a variety of different teaching methods, but I do not "differentiate". Everyone has to listen to a lecture. Everyone has to play with a simulation. Everyone has to do an experiment. Everyone has to work on problems to solve. So, as I said, I am teaching different ways, but I suspect (hope?) that differentiating means more. Then, if I differentiate "product", who decides which kids produce which kind of evidence of learning? Won't everyone want the perceived easiest option?
OK, that was my first question. Next:
2. Once I know what it is that I am planning on doing, how do I answer if I am asked: "Do you have evidence that shows that this is a good idea?"