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An Action Research on the Effectiveness of Differentiated Instruction In Teaching English for Grade Four Classes

Mary Joy V. Olicia

I. Introduction

Like Science and Math, English is a difficult but an important subject because the curriculum considers it as a tool subject needed to understand the different content subjects. Basically, it is concerned with developing competencies in listening, speaking, reading, writing, and viewing. Speaking includes skills in using the language expressions and grammatical structures correctly in oral communication while writing skill includes readiness skills, mechanics in guided writing, functional and creative writing (K to 12 Curriculum Guide for Grade 4).
The K to 12 Basic Education Curriculum aims to help learners understand that English language is involved in the dynamic social process which responds to and reflects changing social conditions. It is also inextricably involved with values, beliefs and ways of thinking about the person and the world people dwell. The curriculum aims that pupils are given an opportunity to build upon their prior knowledge while utilizing their own skills, interests, styles, and talents.
However, teachers find difficulties in teaching different kinds of pupils with different intellectual capacities, talent or skills, interest, and learning styles especially in heterogeneous groupings of pupils. This situation calls for teachers to create lessons for all pupils based upon their readiness, interests, and background knowledge. Anderson (2007) noted that it is imperative not to exclude any child in a classroom, so a differentiated learning environment must be provided by a teacher.
Differentiated instruction is based on the concept that the teacher is a facilitator of information, while students take the primary role of expanding their knowledge by making sense of their ability to learn differently (Robinson, Maldonado, & Whaley, 2014).
Wilson (2009) argued that differentiated instruction is the development of the simple to the complex tasks, and a difference between individuals that are otherwise similar in certain respects such as age or grade are given consideration. Additionally, Butt and Kusar (2010) stated that it is an approach to planning, so that one lesson may be taught to the entire class while meeting the individual needs of each child.
According to Tomlinson (2009), DI as a philosophy of teaching is based on the premise that students learn best when their teachers accommodate the differences in their readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles. It sees the learning experience as social and collaborative. The responsibility of what happens in the classroom is first to teacher, but also to the learner (Subban, 2006). Additionally, DI presents an effective means to address learner’s variance which avoids the pitfalls of the one-size-fits-all curriculum. Stronge (2004) and Tomlinson (2004b) claimed that addressing student differences and interest enhance their motivation to learn and make them to remain committed and to stay positive as well.
Stravroula (2011) conducted a study in investigating the impact of DI in mixed ability classrooms and found out that the implementation of differentiation had made a big step in facing the negative effects of socio-economic factors on students’ achievement by managing diversity effectively, providing learning opportunities for all students. The positive change in students’ achievement had shown that differentiation can be considered as an effective teaching approach in mixed ability classrooms.
Furthermore, Servilio (cited by Robinson, 2014) studied the effectiveness of using DI to motivate students to read and found out that an average of 83.4% of the students’ grades improved in reading, 12.5% remained the same, and 41% of the grades decreased.
As educator, the teacher-researcher was motivated to conduct this action research on the effectiveness of DI in teaching English on Grade Four pupils for a week-long lesson. She also she wanted to know the effect of this method on the academic performance of the pupils from results of the diagnostic and achievement test.

II. Statement of the Problem

This study determined the effectiveness of conducting DI to Grade Four English class. Specifically, it answered the following.

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