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Blog: Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

DI: Finding Success For All

At W.J. Mouat, we are starting down a pathway of systematic differentiated instruction (DI), an approach to teaching that is not new but historically has not been the hallmark of the high school system. Explained simply, differentiation sits at the opposite end of the continuum from streaming, a system where students are grouped according to predetermined criteria and set on a pathway from grade 9, in many cases without consultation from students or parents. The results are “streams” of courses like adapted, regular and honours, each with varying degrees of richness and rigour.

This year at W.J. Mouat we have eliminated streams at grade 9 and have created a single stream for our academic courses. Along with this structural change we are looking at how to be systematic with differentiated instruction. Defined, DI is merely finding pathways for all students at all readiness levels to reach the standards of the course, to have access to engaging and challenging content and have some choice about what and how they learn. Rather than limiting “honours” to 30 students, we can offer all of our gifted students an opportunity to go deeper into the curriculum and be challenged to explore their passions. Rather than label struggling learners straight out of middle school, we are exposing them to the fullness of the curriculum and allowing them to make choices about where their interests and abilities are.

We spent Friday, Sept 20 learning about DI as a staff, setting our feet on this path as we begin this important journey for our students. Our teachers presented both about the theory and practice of DI as we learned together the first steps. We are both excited and nervous about this change at W.J. Mouat, but know that to honour our motto, “Success For All", the task requires a belief that all students are capable of learning and a practice that supports that belief. 

Principal, W.J. Mouat Secondary School