Dr. Carol Tomlinson,Invitations to Learn and Differentiated Instruction

PowerPoint Presentation in PDF:
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Visit Tomlinson's Website and see more articles and presentations on differentiation of instruction at:
Her site on differentiation includes articles written for practitioners and professionals; and books and links as well as PowerPoint presentations of her public seminars and presentations. Scroll below for one of her articles and other resources.

Seminar Description:

In every classroom, a few students are drawn to school and to learning like metal to magnet.  For many students, however, the process of learning in school is anything but natural.  Such students may anticipate failure, fear negative peer consequences of buying into academic success, find academics irrelevant, doubt the role of school in shaping a future, or experience school as perpetual boredom.  Teachers who accept responsibility for the success of each learner in their classrooms continue to seek ways to invite students to risk learning–and seek ways to make sure that students who take the risk find success in the classroom. This seminar will explore what it means to make classrooms successful for academically diverse populations, and the role of the student, the teacher, and curriculum and instruction in making learning invitational.

Concepts in Tomlinson's Works:

When I began reading and exploring Carol Tomlinson's work, I was impressed by her enthusiasm about teaching and learning and the extent to which she promoted the importance of reaching every student and empowering them.  

Two important concepts stood out in Carol’s work for me:

1.       Her notions that “A teacher invites students to learn when the classroom is a place that consistently builds students’ capacity to be at the helm of their fate; and by contrast, when students feel powerless in the classroom, learning loses its appeal.”

2.     That differentiation is a positive way of thinking about teaching and learning and, in essence, is (or should be) one’s philosophy. Because “a differentiated classroom offers a variety of learning options designed to tap into different readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles. Differentiated classrooms allows the teacher to use a variety of ways for students to explore curriculum content and use a variety of sense-making activities or processes through which they can come to understand and “own” information and ideas.  Further, students are permitted to demonstrate what they have learned through a variety of options, projects, and exhibits.

About the Presenter:

Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson, is Professor of Educational Leadership, Foundations & Policy at the  University of Virginia in Charlottesville. She has a multi disciplinary background in German, English, education, theological studies in youth education and drama, reading, speech pathology, gifted education, curriculum, qualitative research, organizational behavior, and policy analysis.
Tomlinson’s research and specialty areas are: differentiation of curriculum and instruction for academically diverse learners; school reform and gifted education, gifted education and middle school; and, curriculum and instruction for creative and critical thinking.

She is currently staff member and principal investigator at the National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented; and, co-director and program area coordinator of the University of Virginia’s Summer Institute on Academic Diversity.  She is a special project writer for the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Programs for the Gifted  and The Council for Exceptional Children.  She has served as consultant for various organizations, including Harcourt-Brace Publishers. She is author of more than 100 juried articles, book chapters, monographs and other publications, on differentiation of instruction in mixed ability classrooms, innovations in gifted and talented education, and leadership. Her books have been translated in French, Spanish, Portugese, Chinese, Greek, Korean, and Arabic. She has made presentations in over 100 schools and school districts in Virginia.

Among her many honors and awards, she is recipient of the Dean’s Award for Outstanding Contributions to Continuing Education; award for paper of the year and distinguished research (1999) presented by the American Educational Research Association; award for service to gifted education in Virginia, presented by the Virginia Advisory Committee on Gifted Education; honorary membership in the Colorado Academy of Educators for the Gifted, Talented and Creative (2000); and, outstanding professor award from the Curry School (2004).

Online Articles:

Tomlinson, Carol A. (2000). Reconcilable Differences?  Standards-Based Teaching and Differentiation. Educational Leadership, 58(1),6-11.

Online, Video, and Print Resources for Differentiated Instruction


 Dr. Rosalyn M. King, Chair, Center for Teaching Excellence, Northern Virginia Region