Differentiated Instruction in Math and Science
When it comes to differentiated instruction in mathematics and science, the information has to be paced to match the real rate of learning. It should not be slower than the speed in which people process information. If you go too slow, then students are not able to retain much of the mathematical or scientific information. They will be bored and their minds will wander.
Students who are gifted in either math or science require instructions that are different from the rest of the class. The quality of the information has to be different because they are able to understand more and comprehend new content quickly.
A way to ensure quality of learning is to have periodic review sessions. This will engage memory and improve retention. New concepts will stick.
Gifted mathematicians can understand deep concepts when asked to solve problems. It is a mistake to give them drills and practices. While this may work for those challenged by mathematics, it does not work as well for gifted students. They need to be challenged, rather than taught in a formulaic way.
This same principle applies to gifted students in science. Instead of making them familiar with the laws of nature, something they already probably understand, give them problems to resolve. They are stimulated when they have things to think about.
Average learners tend to have low attention spans and poor memories. Alternatively, those who excel in math and science are eager to learn more, and this interest accelerates their capacity to remember more as well. This is why it is essential to differentiate between the two groups. Average learners respond well to chunks of information and drills. Gifted learners on the other hand appreciate a big picture view, where they see a glimpse of the concepts as a whole. They are also much more responsive when challenged to think about a conundrum or solve a problem.
What happens when average students are faced with a challenge in math or science? They feel intimidated and will resort to trial and error to try and resolve the problem, often repeating formulas over and over in frustration. Advanced learners show a completely different mindset. When challenged, they will quickly skip over trial and error and move to finding alternative strategies to get answers to the question.
Six Teaching Concepts To Implement For Advanced Students
So, with these points in mind, what is the best way to provide differentiated instructions in math and science?
- teach at a rate that corresponds to the actual rate of learning, not going too fast or too slow.
- focus on differentiated content presentations.
- add reviews periodically.
- set problems to solve.
- offer the big picture view.
- encourage alternative solutions and creative thinking.