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DIFFERENTIATION IN SECOND LEVEL EDUCATION

Simon Lyons, G00297365

Submitted for the Bachelor of Science (Honors)


To
Galway-Mayo Institute of Technology, Letterfrack

Module Leader:
Programme:
Module Title:
Date Submitted:

Dr. Pauline Logue Collins


Design and Technology Education
Applied Theory of Education
14th November 2014

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
I would like to thank my module leader, Dr. Pauline Logue Collins, for all
her help and guidance before I started my research into the topic of this
academic essay and also her continued support throughout the writing of
this essay. I would also like to thank the librarians at GMIT and NUIG libraries
for their assistance when I needed to find certain literature relating to the
topic that I was researching and exploring. I would also like to thank my
brother, Michael Lyons, for proofreading the essay and also for his guidance
throughout the writing of the essay.

ABSTRACT
This essay examines the issues of differentiation and inclusion in the
modern 21st century second level classroom in Ireland today. The research
examines the challenges that the teacher can face with regard to
differentiation between certain students and also how the teacher deals with
these challenges to include and integrate the whole class as a community.
This essay explores the different types of students that we have in
second level education such as special needs students, foreign nationals and
also mixed ability students. It then explores how these students learn best
and how the teacher can cater for the class as a group while maximizing the
learning experience for everyone in the class.
This essay aims to examine, in depth, how every student can have a
mutually satisfying learning experience and also how each type of student
learns best and can be best included into the classroom environment.

TABLE

OF

CONTENTS

Acknowledgements..........................................................................i
ABSTRACT.......................................................................................ii
Table of Contents...............................................................................3
1

Introduction.................................................................................4

Differentiation..............................................................................5
2.1

Special Educational Needs.....................................................6

2.2

Multiculturalism......................................................................7

Conclusion...................................................................................8

Bibliography.................................................................................9

1 INTRODUCTION
Differentiation in the classroom can be described as;
A wide variety of teaching techniques and lesson adaptions
that educators use to instruct a diverse group of students, with
diverse learning needs, in the same course, classroom, or learning
environment. (Glossary of Education Reform, 2014)
Differentiation can also be described as educators reacting
responsively to a learners needs (Tomlinson, Allan, & Allan, 2000,
Pg. 4). It is vital that the teacher is aware of every individuals needs
in the classroom and can plan to differentiate for this in order to
maximize their learning experience.
Polat describes inclusion as inclusion of all regardless of race,
ethnicity, disability, gender, sexual orientation, language, socioeconomic status, and any other aspect of an individuals identity
that might be perceived as different (Polat, 2011, Pg. 89). When
this is applied in the classroom it ensures equality for all learners.
Kyriacou also states that inclusion refers to the way in which
teaching and learning in a school is organized in a way that enables
the school to cater for pupils with a broad range of abilities and
needs (Kyriacou, 2007, Pg. 49). There is a very close relationship
between both differentiation and inclusion and it is obviously a
major issue in todays classroom environment. A key part of
Maslows hierarchy of needs is that one must feel like they belong in
the class as this is a major step in achieving self-actualization. This
is when one is truly happy within oneself.
This essay aims to explore differentiation and inclusion in
secondary level education in Ireland today. It also aims to delve into
the challenges that a teacher faces with regard to how they will plan
for differentiation in the classroom and how they will ensure to
include every student in a lesson plan that is both engaging for the
learners and of a level that all students in the class feel comfortable
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with in order to get a deeper understanding of the subject while


learning a satisfactory amount of the syllabus and also exploring all
aspects of the subject with particular attention being paid to
Materials Technology Wood, Technical Graphics, Construction Studies
and Design and Communication Graphics.
The objectives of this essay are to acquire a deeper
understanding of the meaning of the words differentiation and
inclusion in relation to the classroom environment, how
differentiation affects the teacher and the classroom, the different
kinds of students that a teacher must differentiate for, the strategies
that the teacher will apply to combat differentiation and ultimately
how the teacher can provide each and every student with an
education that is inclusive to all regardless of gender, ethnicity or
ability, and that all students are given the opportunities and
environmental conditions conductive to their achieving their
educational potential. (Davies, 2006, Pg. 151).

2 DIFFERENTIATION
In the modern day secondary school classroom the teacher
must overcome many challenges in order to ensure that every
student has a fair and equal opportunity to understand the subject.
One of the main challenges that educators face is differentiation.
Tomlinson defines differentiation as the efforts of teachers to
respond to variance among learners in the classroom (Tomlinson,
2000, Pg. 1). It is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure that
each student has the same chance to learn as the other.
Not every student is the same. They come from different
backgrounds, learn at different speeds, have different religions and
cultures and speak different languages. The teacher must take into
account gender, race, mixed ability, learning styles, ethnic origin
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and whether a child has special educational needs or not and then
plan for the lesson and how best to run it. Kyriacou states
differentiation involves adapting the way the work is set and
assessed in order to meet the needs of a range of abilities within the
same class (Kyriacou, 2009, Pg.60). This means that it is imperative
that the teacher includes teaching strategies that will differentiate
between mixed ability students so that the more academic students
can progress with their learning and the less academic students
dont get left behind.
The teacher must be prepared to change the way the class is
run, the way they give instructions and the environment in which
they teach a class in order to facilitate the learners needs. They
cannot expect the student to change to suit the teacher because
ultimately, the students needs are the most important thing and
are central to them getting the most out of any class. This is the
belief of many educators including Cummings who states that we
need to change our approach not the child (Cummings, 2000,
p.125). This means that teachers must have the ability to identify
how they must change in order to facilitate for differentiation within
the classroom in a positive manner and also to apply teaching
techniques that will be beneficial to all. I now aim to examine many
aspects of differentiation such as special educational needs,
multiculturalism and interculturalism.

2.1 SPECIAL EDUCATIONAL NEEDS


There are many different types of special educational needs
students and each of them learn differently. It is imperative that the
teacher is aware of this and has the ability to plan and organize
lessons while including every student in this plan and ensuring that

all students with particular special educational needs are catered


for. Walsh and Dolan state that;
In order to be effective, the teacher must plan lessons that
enable these children to learn, devise classroom routines that
include these children, use a variety of teaching strategies suited to
their learning needs and develop assessment techniques that
guarantee recognition of learning achieved. (Walsh, Dolan, 2009, Pg.
116)
Muijs and Reynolds state that special needs is a broad term
referring to very different pupils with a wide range of different needs
and problems (Muijs & Reynolds, 2007, Pg.150). It is vital that
teachers understand these problems that the students face on a
daily basis and that they do their utmost to accommodate each and
every student appropriately within the class. One way a teacher can
accommodate for every special needs student is that they ensure
that they have an individual educational plan devised for them.
According to Carey, the individual educational plan is so important
that it can be stated with certainty that where there is no individual
educational plan for a child receiving special education, there is no
special education (Carey, 2005, Pg. 12). This shows that each
student must be dealt with on an individual basis to find out their
exact personal educational plan that will enable them to learn to
their potential.

2.2 MULTICULTURALISM

Gorski describes the term multiculturalism as a progressive


approach for transforming education that holistically critiques and
responds to discriminatory policies and practices in education
(Gorski, 2012). In the modern 21st century classroom all kinds of
cultures, religions and languages exist as the students come from

different backgrounds. It is up to the educators to make the


classroom feel like one group or community.
In order for the teacher to achieve a successful, holistic
multicultural class, they must adhere to certain ways of thinking and
apply specific strategies. According to Moore these strategies can
be organized into four categories: professional development,
teacher expectations, curriculum, and instruction (Moore, 1992, Pg.
45). In order for the educator to develop a multicultural class, they
must improve their knowledge of and attitudes towards different
cultures. Moore also believes that the teacher needs to get to know
the students and also get involved in the community to understand
the subcultures that exist there.
Another strategy that would develop a positive multicultural
class is to use group work and organize the groups so that students
from different cultures are in the same group. This would create a
positive attitude towards multiculturalism within the classroom
environment. (Petty, 2009)
Another strategy that Moore believes in also states that
maximizing expectations and minimizing differential interactions
are important ingredients in creating a classroom free from bias,
that is, a multicultural classroom (Moore, 1992, Pg. 45). This is an
integral factor in creating and developing a positive learning
environment and needs constant attention. If all of the above
strategies are applied in the classroom multiculturalism will become
a positive instead of a negative with the teacher being central to
how things develop.

3 CONCLUSION

Differentiation and inclusion in secondary level education are


a major part of how the student progresses their education.
Students will not reach their full potential if their physical and
emotional needs are not met. There is a direct correlation between
the teachers approach to differentiation and the students ability to
reach self-actualization. This is from Maslows hierarchy of needs
and it says that if a student does not feel like they belong in a class
then they will not be able to reach their full potential.
Overall this essay achieves the aims that were set out in the
introduction as it has examined differentiation in second level
education while giving an in depth account of the topics of special
educational needs and multiculturalism. This essay also gives an
account of the specific teaching strategies that the teacher can use
to incorporate differentiation in the classroom while also making
sure to include the whole class as a group.

4 BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Booth, T. (2005). Keeping the Future Alive: Putting Inclusive Values


into Action. Oxford, United Kingdom: Symposium Books Ltd.
Carey, D. D. (2005). The Essential Guide to Special Education in
Ireland. Dublin: PrimaryABC.
Cummings, C. (2000). Winning Strategies for Classroom
Management. Alexandria: ASCD
Davies, S. (2006). The Essential Guide to Teaching. Great Britain:
Pearson Education Limited.
Gorski, P. C. (2012). Building Blocks: The First Steps of Creating a
Multicultural Classroom, Retrieved from:
http://www.edchange.org/multicultural/papers/buildingblocks.html
Great Schools Partnership (2014).Glossary of Education Reform.
Available at: http://edglossary.org/differentiation/ [Accessed 9th
November 2014]
Kyriacou, C. (2007). Essential Teaching Skills. Cheltenham: Nelson
Thornes Ltd.
Muijs, D. & Reynolds, D. (2007). Effective Teaching: Evidence and
practice. Sage Publications: London, California, India & Singapore.
Polat, F. (2011). Inclusion in education: A step towards social justice.
Elsevier.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2000). Differentiation of instruction in the
elementary grades.

Tomlinson, C. A., Allan, D.S., & Allan, S.D. (2000). Leadership for
Differentiating Schools and Classrooms. Alexandria: ASCD

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Walsh, B. & Dolan, R. (2009). A Guide to Teaching Practice in


Ireland. Dublin: Gill & Macmillan.

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