On differentiation: a reply to a rant and a posing of questions

If you are going to read one post this week, I suggest you make it Grant Wiggins’s (reblogged here). The author of Understanding by Design responded to James DeLisle’s commentary for Education Week, titled “Differentiation Doesn’t Work”. Like Grant, I also was surprised that DeLisle’s piece even made it to publication. His commentary cherry picked quotes from other sources, poorly representing those texts on the challenges and benefits of differentiation.

What are your thoughts on differentiation, DeLisle’s commentary, and Wiggins’s response? Please share in the comments.

Granted, and...

James DeLisle recently wrote a Commentary in Education Week in which he trashed differentiation of learning. In this post, I respond to his utterly invalid arguments. In the next post I speak to the larger issue of teacher vs. school obligation in dealing with heterogeneous classes, and what heterogeneity should and should not demand of teachers. Ed Week has not responded to my submission, so I am publishing this on my own.

To the Editor:

Why in the world did you publish James DeLisle’s one-sided self-serving rant on differentiated instruction (“Differentiation Doesn’t Work,” by James R. Delisle, Education Week)?

First of all, he covers exactly the same ground in the back and forth in Education Week a few years ago between Mike Schmoker (Ed Week Commentary, September 20, 2010) and Carol Ann Tomlinson (Letter November 12, 2010) – and does so far less coherently and persuasively than Schmoker…

View original post 1,992 more words

Author: Matt Renwick

Matt Renwick is an 18-year public educator who began as a 5th and 6th-grade teacher in Rudolph, WI. He now serves as an elementary principal for the Mineral Point Unified School District (http://mineralpointschools.org/). Matt also teaches online graduate courses in curriculum design and instructional leadership for the University of Wisconsin-Superior. He tweets @ReadByExample and writes for ASCD (www.ascd.org) and Lead Literacy (www.leadliteracy.com).

4 thoughts on “On differentiation: a reply to a rant and a posing of questions”

  1. Thanks for sharing this Matt. I would have missed it otherwise. i think the discussion is very important and believe strongly that what is offered to students must meet their needs, stretching them to fulfill their potential. i think accusations that quotes have been chosen to support a position is probably justified, but it is something that we all do: seek out that which supports our view. I will be very interested to read the discussions that ensue from this.


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