differentiated instruction (di)

Differentiated Instruction

Differentiated instruction involves teaching in a way that meets the different needs and interests of students using varied course content, activities, and assessments.

Teaching differently to different students

Differentiated Instruction (DI) is fundamentally the attempt to teach differently to different students, rather than maintain a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. Other frameworks, such as Universal Design for Learning , enjoin instructors to give students broad choice and agency to meet their diverse needs and interests. DI distinctively emphasizes instructional methods to promote learning for students entering a course with different readiness for, interest in, and ways of engaging with course learning based on their prior learning experiences ( Dosch and Zidon 2014). 

Successful implementation of DI requires ongoing training, assessment, and monitoring (van Geel et al. 2019) and has been shown to be effective in meeting students’ different needs, readiness levels, and interests (Turner et al. 2017). Below, you can find six categories of DI instructional practices that span course design and live teaching.

While some of the strategies are best used together, not all of them are meant to be used at once, as the flexibility inherent to these approaches means that some of them are diverging when used in combination (e.g., constructing homogenous student groups necessitates giving different types of activities and assessments; constructing heterogeneous student groups may pair well with peer tutoring) (Pozas et al. 2020). The learning environment the instructor creates with students has also been shown to be an important part of successful DI implementation (Shareefa et al. 2019). 

Differentiated Assessment

Differentiated assessment is an aspect of Differentiated Instruction that focuses on tailoring the ways in which students can demonstrate their progress to their varied strengths and ways of learning. Instead of testing recall of low-level information, instructors should focus on the use of knowledge and complex reasoning. Differentiation should inform not only the design of instructors’ assessments, but also how they interpret the results and use them to inform their DI practices. 

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Steps to consider

There are generally considered to be six categories of useful differentiated instruction and assessment practices (Pozas & Schneider 2019):

  • Making assignments that have tasks and materials that are qualitatively and/or quantitatively varied (according to “challenge level, complexity, outcome, process, product, and/or resources”) (IP Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning) It’s helpful to assess student readiness and interest by collecting data at the beginning of the course, as well as to conduct periodic check-ins throughout the course (Moallemi 2023 & Pham 2011)
  • Making student working groups that are intentionally chosen (that are either homogeneous or heterogeneous based on “performance, readiness, interests, etc.”) (IP Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning) Examples of how to make different student groups provided by Stanford CTL  (Google Doc)
  • Making tutoring systems within the working group where students teach each other (IP Module 2: Integrating Peer-to-Peer Learning) For examples of how to support peer instruction, and the benefits of doing so, see for example Tullis & Goldstone 2020 and Peer Instruction for Active Learning (LSA Technology Services, University of Michigan)
  • Making non-verbal learning aids that are staggered to provide support to students in helping them get to the next step in the learning process (only the minimal amount of information that is needed to help them get there is provided, and this step is repeated each time it’s needed) (IP Module 4: Making Success Accessible) Non-verbal cue cards support students’ self-regulation, as they can monitor and control their progress as they work (Pozas & Schneider 2019)
  • Making instructional practices that ensure all students meet at least the minimum standards and that more advanced students meet higher standards , which involves monitoring students’ learning process carefully (IP Module 4: Making Success Accessible; IP Module 5: Giving Inclusive Assessments) This type of approach to student assessment can be related to specifications grading, where students determine the grade they want and complete the modules that correspond to that grade, offering additional motivation to and reduced stress for students and additional flexibility and time-saving practices to instructors (Hall 2018)
  • Making options that support student autonomy in being responsible for their learning process and choosing material to work on (e.g., students can choose tasks, project-based learning, portfolios, and/or station work, etc.) (IP Module 4: Making Success Accessible) This option, as well as the others, fits within a general Universal Design Learning framework , which is designed to improve learning for everyone using scientific insights about human learning

Hall, M (2018). “ What is Specifications Grading and Why Should You Consider Using It? ” The Innovator Instructor blog, John Hopkins University Center for Teaching Excellence and Innovation.

Moallemi, R. (2023). “ The Relationship between Differentiated Instruction and Learner Levels of Engagement at University .” Journal of Research in Integrated Teaching and Learning (ahead of print).

Pham, H. (2011). “ Differentiated Instruction and the Need to Integrate Teaching and Practice .” Journal of College Teaching and Learning , 9(1), 13-20.

Pozas, M. & Schneider, C. (2019). " Shedding light into the convoluted terrain of differentiated instruction (DI): Proposal of a taxonomy of differentiated instruction in the heterogeneous classroom ." Open Education Studies , 1, 73–90.

Pozas, M., Letzel, V. and Schneider, C. (2020). " Teachers and differentiated instruction: exploring differentiation practices to address student diversity ." Journal of Research in Special Educational Needs , 20: 217-230.

Shareefa, M. et al. (2019). “ Differentiated Instruction: Definition and Challenging Factors Perceived by Teachers .” Proceedings of the 3rd International Conference on Special Education (ICSE 2019). 

Tullis, J.G. & Goldstone, R.L. (2020). “ Why does peer instruction benefit student learning? ”, Cognitive Research 5 .

Turner, W.D., Solis, O.J., and Kincade, D.H. (2017). “ Differentiating Instruction for Large Classes in Higher Education ”, International Journal of Teaching and Learning in Higher Education , 29(3), 490-500.

van Geel, M., Keuning, T., Frèrejean, J., Dolmans, D., van Merriënboer, J., & Visscher A.J. (2019). “Capturing the complexity of differentiated instruction”, School Effectiveness and School Improvement , 30:1, 51-67, DOI: 10.1080/09243453.2018.1539013

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What is Differentiated Instruction? Examples of How to Differentiate Instruction in the Classroom

Just as everyone has a unique fingerprint, every student has an individual learning style. Chances are, not all of your students grasp a subject in the same way or share the same level of ability. So how can you better deliver your lessons to reach everyone in class? Consider differentiated instruction—a method you may have heard about but haven’t explored, which is why you’re here. In this article, learn exactly what it means, how it works, and the pros and cons.

Infographic: What is differentiated instruction? Carol Ann Tomlinson is a leader in the area of differentiated learning and professor of educational leadership, foundations, and policy at the University of Virginia. Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. Four ways to differentiate instruction: Content, product, process, and learning environment. Pros and cons of differentiated instruction.

Definition of differentiated instruction

Carol Ann Tomlinson is a leader in the area of differentiated learning and professor of educational leadership, foundations, and policy at the University of Virginia. Tomlinson describes differentiated instruction as factoring students’ individual learning styles and levels of readiness first before designing a lesson plan. Research on the effectiveness of differentiation shows this method benefits a wide range of students, from those with learning disabilities to those who are considered high ability.

Differentiating instruction may mean teaching the same material to all students using a variety of instructional strategies, or it may require the teacher to deliver lessons at varying levels of difficulty based on the ability of each student.

Teachers who practice differentiation in the classroom may:

  • Design lessons based on students’ learning styles.
  • Group students by shared interest, topic, or ability for assignments.
  • Assess students’ learning using formative assessment.
  • Manage the classroom to create a safe and supportive environment.
  • Continually assess and adjust lesson content to meet students’ needs.

History of differentiated instruction

The roots of differentiated instruction go all the way back to the days of the one-room schoolhouse, where one teacher had students of all ages in one classroom. As the educational system transitioned to grading schools, it was assumed that children of the same age learned similarly. However in 1912, achievement tests were introduced, and the scores revealed the gaps in student’s abilities within grade levels.

In 1975, Congress passed the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), ensuring that children with disabilities had equal access to public education. To reach this student population, many educators used differentiated instruction strategies. Then came the passage of No Child Left Behind in 2000, which further encouraged differentiated and skill-based instruction—and that’s because it works. Research by educator Leslie Owen Wilson supports differentiating instruction within the classroom, finding that lecture is the least effective instructional strategy, with only 5 to 10 percent retention after 24 hours. Engaging in a discussion, practicing after exposure to content, and teaching others are much more effective ways to ensure learning retention.

Four ways to differentiate instruction

According to Tomlinson, teachers can differentiate instruction through four ways: 1) content, 2) process, 3) product, and 4) learning environment.

As you already know, fundamental lesson content should cover the standards of learning set by the school district or state educational standards. But some students in your class may be completely unfamiliar with the concepts in a lesson, some students may have partial mastery, and some students may already be familiar with the content before the lesson begins.

What you could do is differentiate the content by designing activities for groups of students that cover various levels of  Bloom’s Taxonomy (a classification of levels of intellectual behavior going from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills). The six levels are: remembering, understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating.

Students who are unfamiliar with a lesson could be required to complete tasks on the lower levels: remembering and understanding. Students with some mastery could be asked to apply and analyze the content, and students who have high levels of mastery could be asked to complete tasks in the areas of evaluating and creating.

Examples of differentiating activities:

  • Match vocabulary words to definitions.
  • Read a passage of text and answer related questions.
  • Think of a situation that happened to a character in the story and a different outcome.
  • Differentiate fact from opinion in the story.
  • Identify an author’s position and provide evidence to support this viewpoint.
  • Create a PowerPoint presentation summarizing the lesson.

Each student has a preferred learning style, and successful differentiation includes delivering the material to each style: visual, auditory and kinesthetic, and through words. This process-related method also addresses the fact that not all students require the same amount of support from the teacher, and students could choose to work in pairs, small groups, or individually. And while some students may benefit from one-on-one interaction with you or the classroom aide, others may be able to progress by themselves. Teachers can enhance student learning by offering support based on individual needs.

Examples of differentiating the process:

  • Provide textbooks for visual and word learners.
  • Allow auditory learners to listen to audio books.
  • Give kinesthetic learners the opportunity to complete an interactive assignment online.

The product is what the student creates at the end of the lesson to demonstrate the mastery of the content. This can be in the form of tests, projects, reports, or other activities. You could assign students to complete activities that show mastery of an educational concept in a way the student prefers, based on learning style.

Examples of differentiating the end product:

  • Read and write learners write a book report.
  • Visual learners create a graphic organizer of the story.
  • Auditory learners give an oral report.
  • Kinesthetic learners build a diorama illustrating the story.

4. Learning environment

The conditions for optimal learning include both physical and psychological elements. A flexible classroom layout is key, incorporating various types of furniture and arrangements to support both individual and group work. Psychologically speaking, teachers should use classroom management techniques that support a safe and supportive learning environment.

Examples of differentiating the environment:

  • Break some students into reading groups to discuss the assignment.
  • Allow students to read individually if preferred.
  • Create quiet spaces where there are no distractions.

Pros and cons of differentiated instruction

The benefits of differentiation in the classroom are often accompanied by the drawback of an ever-increasing workload. Here are a few factors to keep in mind:

  • Research shows differentiated instruction is effective for high-ability students as well as students with mild to severe disabilities.
  • When students are given more options on how they can learn material, they take on more responsibility for their own learning.
  • Students appear to be more engaged in learning, and there are reportedly fewer discipline problems in classrooms where teachers provide differentiated lessons.
  • Differentiated instruction requires more work during lesson planning, and many teachers struggle to find the extra time in their schedule.
  • The learning curve can be steep and some schools lack professional development resources.
  • Critics argue there isn’t enough research to support the benefits of differentiated instruction outweighing the added prep time.

Differentiated instruction strategies

What differentiated instructional strategies can you use in your classroom? There are a set of methods that can be tailored and used across the different subjects. According to Kathy Perez (2019) and the Access Center those strategies are tiered assignments, choice boards, compacting, interest centers/groups, flexible grouping, and learning contracts. Tiered assignments are designed to teach the same skill but have the students create a different product to display their knowledge based on their comprehension skills. Choice boards allow students to choose what activity they would like to work on for a skill that the teacher chooses. On the board are usually options for the different learning styles; kinesthetic, visual, auditory, and tactile. Compacting allows the teacher to help students reach the next level in their learning when they have already mastered what is being taught to the class. To compact the teacher assesses the student’s level of knowledge, creates a plan for what they need to learn, excuses them from studying what they already know, and creates free time for them to practice an accelerated skill.

Interest centers or groups are a way to provide autonomy in student learning. Flexible grouping allows the groups to be more fluid based on the activity or topic.  Finally, learning contracts are made between a student and teacher, laying out the teacher’s expectations for the necessary skills to be demonstrated and the assignments required components with the student putting down the methods they would like to use to complete the assignment. These contracts can allow students to use their preferred learning style, work at an ideal pace and encourages independence and planning skills. The following are strategies for some of the core subject based on these methods.

Differentiated instruction strategies for math

  • Provide students with a choice board. They could have the options to learn about probability by playing a game with a peer, watching a video, reading the textbook, or working out problems on a worksheet.
  • Teach mini lessons to individuals or groups of students who didn’t grasp the concept you were teaching during the large group lesson. This also lends time for compacting activities for those who have mastered the subject.
  • Use manipulatives, especially with students that have more difficulty grasping a concept.
  • Have students that have already mastered the subject matter create notes for students that are still learning.
  • For students that have mastered the lesson being taught, require them to give in-depth, step-by-step explanation of their solution process, while not being rigid about the process with students who are still learning the basics of a concept if they arrive at the correct answer.

Differentiated instruction strategies for science

  • Emma McCrea (2019) suggests setting up “Help Stations,” where peers assist each other. Those that have more knowledge of the subject will be able to teach those that are struggling as an extension activity and those that are struggling will receive.
  • Set up a “question and answer” session during which learners can ask the teacher or their peers questions, in order to fill in knowledge gaps before attempting the experiment.
  • Create a visual word wall. Use pictures and corresponding labels to help students remember terms.
  • Set up interest centers. When learning about dinosaurs you might have an “excavation” center, a reading center, a dinosaur art project that focuses on their anatomy, and a video center.
  • Provide content learning in various formats such as showing a video about dinosaurs, handing out a worksheet with pictures of dinosaurs and labels, and providing a fill-in-the-blank work sheet with interesting dinosaur facts.

Differentiated instruction strategies for ELL

  • ASCD (2012) writes that all teachers need to become language teachers so that the content they are teaching the classroom can be conveyed to the students whose first language is not English.
  • Start by providing the information in the language that the student speaks then pairing it with a limited amount of the corresponding vocabulary in English.
  •  Although ELL need a limited amount of new vocabulary to memorize, they need to be exposed to as much of the English language as possible. This means that when teaching, the teacher needs to focus on verbs and adjectives related to the topic as well.
  • Group work is important. This way they are exposed to more of the language. They should, however, be grouped with other ELL if possible as well as given tasks within the group that are within their reach such as drawing or researching.

Differentiated instruction strategies for reading

  • Tiered assignments can be used in reading to allow the students to show what they have learned at a level that suites them. One student might create a visual story board while another student might write a book report. 
  • Reading groups can pick a book based on interest or be assigned based on reading level
  • Erin Lynch (2020) suggest that teachers scaffold instruction by giving clear explicit explanations with visuals. Verbally and visually explain the topic. Use anchor charts, drawings, diagrams, and reference guides to foster a clearer understanding. If applicable, provide a video clip for students to watch.
  • Utilize flexible grouping. Students might be in one group for phonics based on their assessed level but choose to be in another group for reading because they are more interested in that book.

Differentiated instruction strategies for writing

  • Hold writing conferences with your students either individually or in small groups. Talk with them throughout the writing process starting with their topic and moving through grammar, composition, and editing.
  • Allow students to choose their writing topics. When the topic is of interest, they will likely put more effort into the assignment and therefore learn more.
  • Keep track of and assess student’s writing progress continually throughout the year. You can do this using a journal or a checklist. This will allow you to give individualized instruction.
  • Hand out graphic organizers to help students outline their writing. Try fill-in-the-blank notes that guide the students through each step of the writing process for those who need additional assistance.
  • For primary grades give out lined paper instead of a journal. You can also give out differing amounts of lines based on ability level. For those who are excelling at writing give them more lines or pages to encourage them to write more. For those that are still in the beginning stages of writing, give them less lines so that they do not feel overwhelmed.

Differentiated instruction strategies for special education

  • Use a multi-sensory approach. Get all five senses involved in your lessons, including taste and smell!
  • Use flexible grouping to create partnerships and teach students how to work collaboratively on tasks. Create partnerships where the students are of equal ability, partnerships where once the student will be challenged by their partner and another time they will be pushing and challenging their partner.
  • Assistive technology is often an important component of differential instruction in special education. Provide the students that need them with screen readers, personal tablets for communication, and voice recognition software.
  • The article Differentiation & LR Information for SAS Teachers suggests teachers be flexible when giving assessments “Posters, models, performances, and drawings can show what they have learned in a way that reflects their personal strengths”. You can test for knowledge using rubrics instead of multiple-choice questions, or even build a portfolio of student work. You could also have them answer questions orally.
  • Utilize explicit modeling. Whether its notetaking, problem solving in math, or making a sandwich in home living, special needs students often require a step-by-step guide to make connections.

References and resources

  • https://www.thoughtco.com/differentiation-instruction-in-special-education-3111026
  • https://sites.google.com/site/lrtsas/differentiation/differentiation-techniques-for-special-education
  • https://www.solutiontree.com/blog/differentiated-reading-instruction/
  • https://www.readingrockets.org/article/differentiated-instruction-reading
  • https://www.sadlier.com/school/ela-blog/13-ideas-for-differentiated-reading-instruction-in-the-elementary-classroom
  • https://inservice.ascd.org/seven-strategies-for-differentiating-instruction-for-english-learners/
  • https://www.cambridge.org/us/education/blog/2019/11/13/three-approaches-differentiation-primary-science/
  • https://www.brevardschools.org/site/handlers/filedownload.ashx?moduleinstanceid=6174&dataid=8255&FileName=Differentiated_Instruction_in_Secondary_Mathematics.pdf

Books & Videos about differentiated instruction by Carol Ann Tomlinson and others

  • The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, 2nd Edition
  • Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia B. Imbeau
  • The Differentiated School: Making Revolutionary Changes in Teaching and Learning – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Kay Brimijoin, and Lane Narvaez
  • Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe
  • Differentiation in Practice Grades K-5: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson
  • Differentiation in Practice Grades 5–9: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson
  • Differentiation in Practice Grades 9–12: A Resource Guide for Differentiating Curriculum – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Cindy A. Strickland
  • Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom: Strategies and Tools for Responsive Teaching – Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Leadership for Differentiating Schools and Classrooms – Carol Ann Tomlinson and Susan Demirsky Allan
  • How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms, 3rd Edition by Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Tonya R. Moon
  • How To Differentiate Instruction In Mixed Ability Classrooms 2nd Edition – Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms 3rd Edition by Carol Ann Tomlinson 
  • Assessment and Student Success in a Differentiated Classroom Paperback – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Tonya R. Moon
  • Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom (Professional Development) 1st Edition – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Marcia B. Imbeau
  • The Differentiated School: Making Revolutionary Changes in Teaching and Learning 1st Edition by Carol Ann Tomlinson, Kay Brimijoin, Lane Narvaez
  • Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom  – David A. Sousa, Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Leading for Differentiation: Growing Teachers Who Grow Kids – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Michael Murphy
  • An Educator’s Guide to Differentiating Instruction. 10th Edition – Carol Ann Tomlinson, James M. Cooper
  • A Differentiated Approach to the Common Core: How do I help a broad range of learners succeed with a challenging curriculum? – Carol Ann Tomlinson, Marcia B. Imbeau
  • Managing a Differentiated Classroom: A Practical Guide – Carol Tomlinson, Marcia Imbeau
  • Differentiating Instruction for Mixed-Ability Classrooms: An ASCD Professional Inquiry Kit Pck Edition – Carol Ann Tomlinson
  • Using Differentiated Classroom Assessment to Enhance Student Learning (Student Assessment for Educators) 1st Edition – Tonya R. Moon, Catherine M. Brighton, Carol A. Tomlinson
  • The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners 1st Edition – Carol Ann Tomlinson

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Categorized as: Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources

Tagged as: Curriculum and Instruction ,  Diversity ,  Engaging Activities ,  New Teacher ,  Pros and Cons

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Initial Thoughts

Perspectives & resources, what is differentiated instruction.

  • Page 1: Defining Differentiated Instruction
  • Page 2: General Principles

How do teachers differentiate instruction?

  • Page 3: Know Your Students
  • Page 4: Differentiate Instructional Elements
  • Page 5: Differentiate Content
  • Page 6: Differentiate Process
  • Page 7: Differentiate Product
  • Page 8: Evaluate and Grade Student Performance

How do teachers prepare their students and their classrooms for differentiated instruction?

  • Page 9: Communicate with Students and Parents
  • Page 10: Organize the Classroom
  • Page 11: Employ Effective Behavior Management

What does differentiated instruction look like in the classroom?

  • Page 12: Classroom Implementation
  • Page 13: References & Additional Resources
  • Page 14: Credits

Differentiated Instruction: Maximizing the Learning of All Students

This module discusses the importance of differentiating three aspects of instruction: content, process (instructional methods), and product (assessment). It explores the student traits—readiness level, interest, and learning preferences—that influence learning (est. completion time: 3 hours).

Work through the sections of this module in the order presented in the STAR graphic above.

Related to this module

module outline

Copyright 2022 Vanderbilt University. All rights reserved.

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50 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples for K-12 Classrooms

Personalize the content, process, product, or learning environment.

Collage of differentiated instruction strategies, including the stoplight system and color coding

As a teacher, you already know that every student in your classroom is different. They have their own personalities, their own likes and dislikes, and their own ways of learning best. That’s why differentiated instruction strategies are so important. They give every kid a chance to succeed by adapting the learning to fit their needs. Add these examples of differentiated instruction strategies to your teacher toolkit so you can pull them out and use them as needed.

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction (DI) means tailoring your teaching so all students, regardless of their ability, can learn the classroom material. During the 1990s,  Carol Ann Tomlinson  introduced the concept of differentiation, and it quickly gained traction. She identified four elements (content, process, product, and learning environment) that teachers could customize in their classrooms. Her work opened the door to a wide array of differentiation approaches and techniques.

So, what does this mean for teachers? Are you expected to create an individualized lesson plan for every student in your classroom? Fortunately, that’s not necessary. What you do need to do is ensure your lesson plans include a variety of activities, and provide options when students need them. Tomlinson recommends teachers consider how they can customize their teaching in four different areas: content, process, product, and learning environment. The differentiated instruction strategies and examples below all fit into one or more of these categories.

Learn much more about the details of this concept here: What Is Differentiated Instruction?

General Differentiated Instruction Strategies

You can use these DI strategies in almost any classroom or learning environment. For each, we’ve indicated which differentiated instruction areas apply (content, process, product, or learning environment).

Stoplight system

Three stacks of colored cups: red, yellow, and green

An important part of using differentiated instruction strategies is knowing when they’re needed in the first place. Try an easy way to check for understanding by giving students a nonverbal way to show where they are. Green means they’re good to go, yellow means they’re struggling, and red means they’re stuck entirely. Try this with sticky notes, folded desk tents, colored cups, and more. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Stoplight System at the Ardent Teacher

Pre-teaching

Getting ready to tackle a really tough topic? Try pre-teaching a smaller group of students first. This gives you a chance to try out your lesson plan, plus it creates a built-in group of “experts” to help you out when the whole class is learning. Use this strategy regularly, but switch up the student experts. Teaching others helps kids learn too. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Pre-Teaching at 3-Star Learning Experiences

Cooperative learning structures

Cooperative learning describes a strategy where students work together in small groups under supervision to accomplish a goal. These groups are carefully constructed based on student needs, abilities, and learning styles. It means knowing your students well, but once you do, you can put these groups together quickly depending on your current activity. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Top 10 Cooperative Learning Structures at Continually Learning

Projects with choices

When you offer choices, students feel more comfortable with the assignment. Plus, they often get a sense of ownership—being allowed to pick and choose encourages kids to take responsibility for their choices. To make this work, determine what goals all students need to achieve. Then, let them come up with ways to demonstrate those goals, or give them a few options that appeal to different types of learners. (DI Area: Product)

Learn more: How I Use Choice Boards To Increase Student Engagement at We Are Teachers

Self-paced learning

One of the best things technology has given us is a better ability to use self-paced learning in and out of the classroom. When you use computer programs and games, kids can advance at the pace that makes sense to them. Of course, you’ll need to ensure students stay on task when they’re working independently. Also, remember that a computer program may only have the ability to explain things one way, so be ready to step in and give kids information in other ways when needed. (DI Area: Product)

Learn more: How To Create a Self-Paced Classroom at Cult of Pedagogy

Color coding

Writing worksheet with different parts highlighted in different colors (Differentiated Instruction Strategies)

One of the best differentiated instruction strategies is color coding. It can work in all sorts of classroom applications, including organization and routines. But you can apply it to learning strategies too. Color helps kids see things more clearly, especially when the subject is complex. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Color-Coding in the Classroom

Small groups

Elementary teachers have been using small reading groups as a differentiated instruction strategy for years. Really, they work in any subject, offering teachers a chance to get more face time with their students. You can group students by skill level, but that’s not necessarily the best way to help learners. Consider grouping by learning styles instead, so you can tailor a lesson’s delivery specifically for those styles. (DI Area: Learning Environment)

Learn more: Small Group Instruction Strategies and Tips for Success

Student-led lessons

Assign students a topic or let them pick their own, then ask them each to become an expert and plan a lesson to share with the class. This goes beyond just giving a presentation. Encourage them to think of creative ways to share the information, planning interactive activities they themselves would like to do in the classroom. You’re bound to get a lot of new teaching strategies yourself! (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Student-Led Lessons Rather Than Student Presentations at Faculty Focus

Question wait time

This one is all about teacher patience. When you ask your class a question, don’t immediately call on the first person to raise their hand. Instead, wait a few more seconds, and call on someone whose hand came up a little later. This allows slower, more thorough thinkers a chance to get their ideas heard too. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Wait Time: Making Space for Authentic Learning at Kent State University

Classroom environment

When you’re reading a book, what’s your favorite position? Curled up on the couch with a pillow under your head? Stretched out on your stomach on your bed? Sitting upright at a table with a cup of tea? Can you handle background noise like music, or do you prefer it to be completely silent? Your students’ choices would be just as varied as your own. Whenever you can, allow them to sit, stand, or even stretch out. Help them control distractions with noise-cancelling headphones, or let them listen to music with earbuds if it helps them concentrate. (DI Area: Learning Environment)

Learn more: 8 Types of Learning Spaces to Include in Your Classroom

Anchor charts

Collage of anchor charts (Differentiated Instruction Strategies)

Good news! Those anchor charts hanging all over your walls are a popular differentiation strategy. They help visual learners succeed, giving them strong images to relate to key skills and topics. You don’t need to be an artist to make great charts, but the more color, the better. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: Anchor Charts 101

Co-teaching

Just as students have different learning styles, teachers have different instructional styles as well. Use this to your advantage! You don’t necessarily need to co-teach full-time. Work as a team with your fellow teachers to learn what their styles are like, and consider switching things up from time to time by trading duties for certain lessons or subjects. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: 8 Things Successful Co-Teachers Do

Peer buddy program

Pairing students of varying levels as buddies benefits all kids. Some schools pair those with disabilities with a buddy to help them as needed. Others pair older students with younger ones. Whatever you choose, plan your program carefully and monitor pairings to ensure they’re working out. (DI Areas: Process, Learning Environment)

Learn more: A Win/Win for All Students: Expert Q&A on Peer Buddy Programs at Brookes Blog

Must-dos and may-dos

Not all students need extra time; in fact, some finish everything up too quickly! That’s where the ability to provide enrichment activities comes in handy. For any lesson, be prepared with “must-do” and “may-do” activities. This helps kids prioritize the most important items and gives fast finishers meaningful work to do too. (DI Areas: Content, Process)

Learn more: The Case for Must-Dos and May-Dos

Multiple intelligences

You don’t necessarily need to create multiple activities to cater to your students’ multiple intelligences. For example, if you’re reviewing a timeline of the American Civil War for an upcoming test, give each student an index card with a major event (e.g., Fredericksburg, Gettysburg, etc.), and while playing Civil War–era music, ask students to line up in front of the class to put the events in order. This single activity activates brain stimulation for six different learning styles:

  • Visual-spatial learners use a mental image of the lineup as a mnemonic device.
  • Kinesthetic learners get to move around and create a life-size timeline.
  • Interpersonal learners communicate with one another to decide where to stand in line.
  • Musical-rhythm learners benefit from the background music.
  • Logical-mathematical learners thrive on creating a chronological line.
  • Verbal-linguistic learners review notes and their textbooks during the activity.

Learn more: Understanding Multiple Intelligences for the Classroom at ASCD

Reading is a key skill, no doubt about it. But when a student struggles with it, it can often affect their learning in other areas too. Unless reading itself is key to the topic you’re presenting, consider letting students listen to an audiobook instead. This lets them focus on the content, rather than just the words and sentences. (DI Area: Process)

Learn more: 10 Places Kids Can Listen to Free Audiobooks

Pre-assessments

Before you present a new topic, take a few minutes to find out what kids already know. Their responses might change how you decide to teach, especially if you find they’re lacking in prerequisite knowledge or already understand the new subject pretty well. Tip: Save time by checking out Kahoot! for pre-made quizzes on your topic. (DI Areas: Process, Product)

Learn more: 6 Benefits of Pre-Assessment at Minds in Bloom

Alternative assessments

Written tests aren’t the only way to check for learning, as teachers well know. Alternative assessments provide ways to differentiate in your classroom by giving students multiple ways to show what they know. For students who struggle with writing, consider a discussion instead (unless you’re specifically working on writing skills). Instead of a traditional book report, have students turn the story into their own graphic novel. Find ways to help students shine! (DI Areas: Process, Content)

Learn more: 25 Alternative Assessment Ideas

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL offers educators a way to reduce the need for differentiation strategies and scaffolding, by building curriculum and lessons that include multiple means of engagement, representation, and action and expression. Look for learning materials that use UDL to use in your classroom, or take the time to design your own lessons using the UDL principles. (DI Area: Multiple)

Learn more: What Is UDL and How Do Teachers Make It Work in the Classroom?

Accommodations

An outside-of-the-box way to find more differentiated instruction strategies is to explore lists of the classroom accommodations used to created IEPs and 504 plans. These include terrific ways to differentiate, even when students don’t have specific written plans. You don’t need to be diagnosed with dyscalculia to benefit from using graph paper to line up your math problems. Typing is easier than handwriting for lots of people. Reviewing an example list can spark ideas for all of your students. (DI Area: Multiple)

Learn more: 80+ IEP Accommodations Every Teacher Should Bookmark

English Language Arts Differentiated Instruction Examples

Screen shot of Newsela showing ability to change reading level (Differentiated Instruction Strategies)

  • Leveled Reading Materials: Leveled books have been around for a long time, but today teachers can also use leveled reading sites like Newsela . (DI Area: Content)
  • High-Low Books: High-interest, low-readability level books keep readers engrossed page after page, without leaving them feeling frustrated or bored. Find a list of our favorites here. (DI Area: Content)
  • Literacy Centers: Center work allows kids to go at their own pace and work privately, without feeling the need to keep up with others. Explore our big list of literacy center ideas here. (DI Areas: Process, Learning Environment)
  • Varied Spelling/Vocabulary Lists: Offer shorter or longer lists depending on aptitude, using more-advanced words to challenge kids who excel in this area. (DI Area: Content)
  • Book Report Options: Give students a variety of ways to report back on the book they’ve read, including written papers, presentations, posters, skits, and more. Find 40+ book report ideas here. (DI Area: Process)
  • Writing Tools: If handwriting is a challenge, explore options like special pencil grips or try one of these easy hacks . When handwriting isn’t the learning goal, offer kids options like oral responses or typing instead. (DI Areas: Process, Product)
  • Reading Spaces: Provide spaces in your classroom where students can get comfortable while they read. Vary the lighting, seating, and noise levels to create areas for different styles. See some of our favorite reading nooks here. (DI Area: Learning Environment)
  • Diverse Materials: Ensure your reading choices include diverse and multicultural characters, settings, and authors . (DI Area: Content)
  • Flexible Groups: Instead of leaving students in the same-leveled reading groups at all times, mix up your groupings by interest, readiness, or learning styles. (DI Area: Learning Environment)
  • Writing Conferences: Meet with students individually to identify strengths and challenges. Or try peer writing groups that partner stronger writers with those who need more help. (DI Areas: Process, Learning Environment)

Math Differentiated Instruction Examples

Child writing a dollar amount next to a pile of coin math manipulatives

  • Manipulatives: These aren’t just for little kids! Make math manipulatives available to older students too, to help those who benefit from kinesthetic learning. (DI Area: Process)
  • Evens or Odds: When giving homework assignments or practice worksheets, give students who need extra time the option to complete only the even or odd questions. This gives them effective practice but keeps them motivated. (DI Areas: Content, Process)
  • Math Centers: Just like literacy centers, math centers let kids choose their pace and learning process. Try these 10 activities for secondary math centers. (DI Areas: Learning Environment, Process)
  • Small Groups: After teaching a concept, put kids in small groups to tackle practice problems together. Many times, students will show each other new ways of learning that teachers might not think of. (DI Areas: Learning Environment, Process)
  • Open-Ended Questions: Students think of math as having one cut-and-dried answer, but you can encourage more creative thinking with broader questions. Learn more from My Teaching Cupboard. (DI Areas: Process, Product)
  • Math Books: We’re not talking about textbooks. Use storybooks with a math theme to engage reluctant learners. (DI Area: Process)
  • Assessment Options: Give students different ways to demonstrate their knowledge, whether it’s answering flash cards out loud, writing an explanation of their solution methods, or drawing pictures to explain their thinking. (DI Areas: Product, Process)
  • Real-Life Math: Whenever possible, use real examples to show kids why math matters. Money activities can be especially effective in engaging students. (DI Area: Process)
  • Active Math Games: Many students learn best when their bodies are involved. Use active math games to engage students on a variety of levels. (DI Area: Process)
  • Pre-Teach Vocabulary: This may be especially important for ESL speakers. Ensure they know specialized terms (e.g., shape names) before tackling math concepts. (DI Area: Process)

Science and Social Studies Differentiated Instruction Examples

A variety of graphic organizers with pens and a clipboard

  • Graphic Organizers: This note-taking method encourages students to organize information visually. Kids might draw pictures or diagrams instead of writing words—whatever works for them. Learn about graphic organizers here. (DI Area: Process)
  • Audiobooks and Videos: Reading is an important skill, but it can hold students back in other subjects. Give kids the option to use audiobooks or videos that cover the same content. This is also helpful for different learning styles. (DI Area: Process)
  • Project Choices: Let students choose from different options to demonstrate their knowledge on a subject. They might write a paper, perform a skit, create a picture book, draw a poster, give a presentation, or more. (DI Area: Product, Process)
  • Diverse Materials: Use videos with diverse presenters, read books or articles by diverse authors, and explore stories of many cultures. (DI Areas: Learning Environment, Content)
  • Pre-Teach Vocabulary and Concepts: Just as in math, it’s important to ensure all students are on the same basic page before you begin instruction. Pre-assessments can help you learn which vocabulary terms or foundational concepts some (or all) students need reinforced. (DI Area: Process)

Examples of Special Education Differentiated Instruction Strategies

Note: Special education students usually have Individualized Education Plans (IEP) , with a variety of required accommodations and modifications. Always be sure to follow a student’s IEP requirements and recommendations. Learn more about special education here.

  • Time or Workload Modifications: Reduce the amount of work expected from a student, or increase the amount of time they have to complete it. The use of “evens and odds” for math worksheets is a good example of differentiated instruction for special ed students. (DI Areas: Product, Assessment)
  • Scaffolding: Provide support for students by breaking down learning into manageable chunks. Find multiple ways to scaffold instruction here. (DI Area: Process)
  • Tailored Learning Spaces: Some students need complete silence while they learn; others prefer background noise. Headphones can be a solution for both. Explore small environmental changes you can make to differentiate learning for all students. (DI Area: Learning Environment)
  • Routines: Special education students often benefit from established routines. Keep their learning schedule the same each day, and use proven instruction methods that they know and are comfortable with. (DI Area: Process)
  • Peer or Teacher Assistance: When possible, extra attention from a teacher, teacher’s aide, or peer can provide the support special ed students need. They might read questions aloud for students to respond to, explain things in a new way, or help them stay on task as they work. (DI Area: Process)

Resources for Differentiated Instruction Strategies

  • Carol Anne Tomlinson: What Is Differentiated Instruction? (Video)
  • Differentiating Instruction: It’s Not As Hard As You Think (Video)
  • Differentiated for Student Learning (Video Series)
  • How To Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms (Tomlinson, 2017)
  • Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom (Sousa/Tomlinson, 2018)
  • How To Plan Differentiated Reading Instruction: Resources for Grades K-3 (Walpole/McKenna, 2017)
  • Differentiation in the Elementary Grades (Doubet/Hocket, 2017)
  • Differentiation in Middle and High School (Doubet/Hocket, 2015)

What are your go-to differentiated instruction strategies? Come share your ideas and ask for advice in the We Are Teachers HELPLINE group on Facebook .

Plus, read what is scaffolding in education.

Use these examples of differentiated instruction strategies in your classroom to ensure every student has a chance to succeed each day.

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Differentiated Instruction in Teaching and Teacher Education, the DI-Quest Model

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differentiated instruction (di)

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Introduction

Differentiated instruction is an educational concept that is highly valued and promoted by educators all over the world. In its most general meaning, differentiated instruction is the set of all interventions available to the teacher to respond to academic differences between learners. This refers to differences in student features which may impact learning, such as gender, age, developmental stage, interest, motivation, intellectual ability, learning preferences, pace of learning, socioeconomic status, background, and family situation. This heterogeneity in students is obvious in nearly every classroom, plausibly worldwide. Although the biological and psychological processes might appear to be similar among learners, a wide range of contextual factors make learning into a unique experience for every learner.

With differentiating instruction, it is assumed that diverse students might “need” (or read benefit from) different learning pathways to be successful in attaining...

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Coubergs, C., Struyven, K., Vanthournout, G., & Engels, N. (2017). Measuring teachers’ perceptions about differentiated instruction: The DI-Quest instrument and model. Studies in Educational Evaluation, 53 , 41–54.

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Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success . New York: Random House.

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Struyven, K., Gheyssens, E., Coubergs, C., & Griful-Freixenet, J. (2018). Teachers’ beliefs and practices about differentiated instruction in secondary schools. In EAPRIL: Education and learning sans frontiers (p. 22), EAPRIL 2018 conference, November 12–14, Portoroz/Piran – Slovenia

Hattie, J. (2012). Visible learning for teachers: Maximizing impact on learning . New York: Routledge.

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Tomlinson, C. A. (2001). How to differentiate instruction in mixed ability classrooms (2nd ed.) . Alexandria, VA: Association for supervision and curriculum development.

Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). How to differentiate instruction in academically diverse classrooms . Alexandria: Association for supervision and curriculum development.

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Struyven, K., Gheyssens, E., Griful-Freixenet, J. (2019). Differentiated Instruction in Teaching and Teacher Education, the DI-Quest Model. In: Peters, M. (eds) Encyclopedia of Teacher Education. Springer, Singapore. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-981-13-1179-6_48-1

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20 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples [+ Downloadable List]

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Written by Marcus Guido

Reviewed by Allison Sinclair, M.T.

Engage and motivate your students with our adaptive, game-based learning platform!

  • Game-Based Learning
  • Teaching Strategies

1. Create Learning Stations

2. use task cards, 3. interview students, 4. target different senses within lessons, 5. share your own strengths and weaknesses, 6. use the think-pair-share strategy, 7. make time for journaling, 8. implement reflection and goal-setting exercises, 9. run literature circles, 10. offer different types of free study time, 11. group students with similar learning styles, 12. give different sets of reading comprehension activities, 13. assign open-ended projects, 14. encourage students to propose ideas for their projects, 15. analyze your differentiated instruction strategy on a regular basis, 16. “teach up”, 17. use math edtech that adjusts itself to each student, 18. relate math to personal interests and everyday examples, 19. play a math-focused version of tic-tac-toe, 20. create learning stations, without mandatory rotations.

As students with diverse learning styles fill the classroom, many teachers don’t always have the time, or spend additional hours to plan lessons that use differentiated instruction (DI) to suit students’ unique aptitudes.

Educator Carol Ann Tomlinson puts it beautifully in her book How to Differentiate Instruction in Academically Diverse Classrooms :

Kids of the same age aren't all alike when it comes to learning, any more than they are alike in terms of size, hobbies, personality, or likes and dislikes. Kids do have many things in common because they are human beings and because they are all children, but they also have important differences. What we share in common makes us human. How we differ makes us individuals. In a classroom with little or no differentiated instruction, only student similarities seem to take center stage. In a differentiated classroom, commonalities are acknowledged and built upon, and student differences become important elements in teaching and learning as well.

This can involve adjusting:

  • Content — The media and methods teachers use to impart and instruct skills, ideas and information
  • Processes — The exercises and practices students perform to better understand content
  • Products — The materials, such as tests and projects, students complete to demonstrate understanding

To help create lessons that engage and resonate with a diverse classroom, below are 20 differentiated instruction strategies and examples. Available in a condensed and printable list for your desk, you can use 16 in most classes and the last four for math lessons.

Try the ones that best apply to you, depending on factors such as student age.

Provide different types of content by setting up learning stations — divided sections of your classroom through which groups of students rotate. You can facilitate this with a flexible seating plan .

Each station should use a unique method of teaching a skill or concept related to your lesson.

To compliment your math lessons, for example, many teachers use Prodigy to simplify differentiation .  You’ll deliver specific in-game problems to each student — or distinct student groups — in three quick steps!

Students can rotate between stations that involve:

  • Watching a video
  • Creating artwork
  • Reading an article
  • Completing puzzles
  • Listening to you teach

To help students process the content after they've been through the stations, you can hold a class discussion or assign questions to answer.

Like learning stations, task cards allow you to give students a range of content. Answering task cards can also be a small-group activity , adding variety to classes that normally focus on solo or large-group learning.

First, make or identify tasks and questions that you’d typically find on worksheets or in textbooks.

Second, print and laminate cards that each contain a single task or question. Or, use Teachers Pay Teachers to buy pre-made cards . (Check out Prodigy Education's Teachers Pay Teachers page for free resources!)

Finally, set up stations around your classroom and pair students together to rotate through them.

You can individualize instruction by monitoring the pairs, addressing knowledge gaps when needed.

Asking questions about learning and studying styles can help you pinpoint the kinds of content that will meet your class’s needs.

While running learning stations or a large-group activity , pull each student aside for a few minutes. Ask about:

  • Their favourite types of lessons
  • Their favourite in-class activities
  • Which projects they’re most proud of
  • Which kinds of exercises help them remember key lesson points

Track your results to identify themes and students with uncommon preferences, helping you determine which methods of instruction suit their abilities.

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A lesson should resonate with more students if it targets visual, tactile, auditory and kinesthetic senses, instead of only one.

When applicable, appeal to a range of learning styles by:

  • Playing videos
  • Using infographics
  • Providing audiobooks
  • Getting students to act out a scene
  • Incorporating charts and illustrations within texts
  • Giving both spoken and written directions to tasks
  • Using relevant physical objects, such as money when teaching math skills
  • Allotting time for students to create artistic reflections and interpretations of lessons

Not only will these tactics help more students grasp the core concepts of lessons, but make class more engaging.

Prodigy Math Game , for example, is an engaging way to gamify math class in a way that worksheets simply cannot. 👇

To familiarize students with the idea of differentiated learning, you may find it beneficial to explain that not everyone builds skills and processes information the same way.

Talking about your own strengths and weaknesses is one way of doing this.

Explain -- on a personal level — how you study and review lessons. Share tactics that do and don’t work for you, encouraging students to try them.

Not only should this help them understand that people naturally learn differently, but give them insight into improving how they process information.

The think-pair-share strategy exposes students to three lesson-processing experiences within one activity. It’s also easy to monitor and support students as they complete each step.

As the strategy’s name implies, start by asking students to individually think about a given topic or answer a specific question.

Next, pair students together to discuss their results and findings.

Finally, have each pair share their ideas with the rest of the class, and open the floor for further discussion.

Because the differentiated instruction strategy allows students to process your lesson content individually, in a small group and in a large group, it caters to your classroom’s range of learning and personality types.

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A journal can be a tool for students to reflect on the lessons you’ve taught and activities you’ve run, helping them process new information .

When possible at the end of class, give students a chance to make a journal entry by:

  • Summarizing key points they’ve learned
  • Attempting to answer or make sense of lingering questions
  • Explaining how they can use the lessons in real-life scenarios
  • Illustrating new concepts, which can be especially helpful for data-focused math lessons

As they continue to make entries, they should figure out which ones effectively allow them to process fresh content.

But if you're struggling to see the value of journaling in a subject like math, for example, you can make time specifically for math journaling. While you connect journaling to your own math objectives, students can make cross-curricular connections.

If you want to learn more, check out K-5 Math Teaching Resources for a detailed overview . Angela Watson at The Cornerstone for Teachers also has great math journal resources you can use in your own class!

An extension of journaling, have students reflect on important lessons and set goals for further learning at pre-determined points of the year.

During these points, ask students to write about their favourite topics, as well as the most interesting concepts and information they’ve learned.

They should also identify skills to improve and topics to explore.

Based on the results, you can target lessons to help meet these goals . For example, if the bulk of students discuss a certain aspect of the science curriculum, you can design more activities around it.

Organizing students into literature circles not only encourages students to shape and inform each other’s understanding of readings, but helps auditory and participatory learners retain more information.

This also gives you an opportunity to listen to each circle’s discussion, asking questions and filling in gaps in understanding.

As a bonus, some students may develop leadership skills by running the discussion.

This activity makes written content — which, at times, may only be accessible to individual learners with strong reading retention -- easier to process for more students.

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Free study time will generally benefit students who prefer to learn individually, but can be slightly altered to also help their classmates process your lessons.

This can be done by dividing your class into clearly-sectioned solo and team activities.

Consider the following free study exercises to also meet the preferences of visual, auditory and kinesthetic learners:

  • Provide audiobooks, which play material relevant to your lessons
  • Create a station for challenging group games that teach skills involved in the curriculum
  • Maintain a designated quiet space for students to take notes and complete work
  • Allow students to work in groups while taking notes and completing work, away from the quiet space

By running these sorts of activities, free study time will begin to benefit diverse learners — not just students who easily process information through quiet, individual work.

Heterogenous grouping is a common practice, but grouping students based on similar learning style can encourage collaboration through common work and thinking practices.

This is not to be confused with grouping students based on similar level of ability or understanding.

In some cases, doing so conflicts with the “Teach Up” principle , which is discussed below.

Rather, this tactic allows like-minded students to support each other’s learning while giving you to time to spend with each group. You can then offer the optimal kind of instruction to suit each group’s common needs and preferences.

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Instead of focusing on written products, consider evaluating reading comprehension through questions and activities that test different aptitudes.

Although written answers may still appeal to many students, others may thrive and best challenge themselves during artistic or kinesthetic tasks.

For example, allow students to choose between some of the following activities before, during and after an important reading :

  • Participating in more literature circles
  • Delivering a presentation
  • Writing a traditional report
  • Creating visual art to illustrate key events
  • Creating and performing a monologue as a main character or figure

Offering structured options can help students demonstrate their understanding of content as effectively as possible, giving you more insight into their abilities.

Similar to evaluating reading comprehension, give students a list of projects to find one that lets them effectively demonstrate their knowledge.

Include a clear rubric for each type of project, which clearly defines expectations. In fact, some teachers have their students co-create the rubric with them so they have autonomy in the work they'll be completing and being assessed on. Doing so will keep it challenging and help students meet specific criteria.

By both enticing and challenging students, this approach encourages them to:

  • Work and learn at their own paces
  • Engage actively with content they must understand
  • Demonstrate their knowledge as effectively as possible

As well as benefiting students, this differentiated instruction strategy will clearly showcase distinct work and learning styles.

As well as offering set options, encourage students to take their projects from concept to completion by pitching you ideas.

A student must show how the product will meet academic standards, and be open to your revisions. If the pitch doesn’t meet your standards, tell the student to refine the idea until it does. If it doesn’t by a predetermined date, assign one of your set options.

You may be pleasantly surprised by some pitches.  

After all, students themselves are the focus of differentiated instruction — they likely have somewhat of a grasp on their learning styles and abilities.

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Even if you’re confident in your overall approach, Carol Ann Tomlinson — one of the most reputable topic thought-leaders — recommends analyzing your differentiated instruction strategies:

Frequently reflect on the match between your classroom and the philosophy of teaching and learning you want to practice. Look for matches and mismatches, and use both to guide you.

Analyze your strategy by reflecting on:

  • Content — Are you using diverse materials and teaching methods in class?
  • Processes — Are you providing solo, small-group and large-group activities that best allow different learners to absorb your content?
  • Products — Are you letting and helping students demonstrate their understanding of content in a variety of ways on tests, projects and assignments?

In doing so, you’ll refine your approach to appropriately accommodate the multiple intelligences of students . It's important to note, however, that recent studies have upended the theory of multiple intelligences. Regardless of where you stand on the multiple intelligences spectrum, the differentiated instruction strategy above remains valuable!

Teaching at a level that’s too easily accessible to each student can harm your differentiated instruction efforts, according to Tomlinson .

Instead, she recommends “teaching up.” This eliminates the pitfall of being stuck on low-level ideas, seldom reaching advanced concepts:

We do much better if we start with what we consider to be high-end curriculum and expectations -- and then differentiate to provide scaffolding, to lift the kids up .

The usual tendency is to start with what we perceive to be grade-level material and then dumb it down for some and raise it up for others. But we don’t usually raise it up very much from that starting point, and dumbing down just sets lower expectations for some kids.

Keeping this concept in mind should focus your differentiated teaching strategy, helping you bring each student up to “high-end curriculum and expectations.”

It has also grown particularly popular in the 2020s as educators have focused more on accelerated learning by "teaching up", as opposed to filling learning gaps.

As Elizabeth S. LeBlanc, Co-Founder of the Institute for Teaching and Learning, writes for EdSurge : "Accelerated learning approaches give a lower priority to repetition or 'skill-and-drill' uses of instructional technology. In other words, it’s not about memorizing everything you should have learned, it’s about moving you forward so you pick things up along the way. "

Differentiated Math Instruction Strategies and Examples

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Some EdTech tools — such as certain educational math video games — can deliver differentiated content, while providing unique ways to process it.

For example, Prodigy adjusts questions to tackle student trouble spots and offers math problems that use words, charts and pictures, as well as numbers.

To the benefit of teachers, the game is free and curriculum-aligned for grades 1 to 8. You can adjust the focus of questions to supplement lessons and homework, running reports to examine each student’s progress.

Join over 90 million students and teachers using Prodigy's differentiating power today. 👇

Clearly linking math to personal interests and real-world examples can help some learners understand key concepts.

Working with 41 grade 7 students throughout an academic year, a 2015 study published by the Canadian Center of Science and Education used contextual learning strategies to teach integers and increase test scores by more than 44%.

Striving for similar benefits may be ambitious, but you can start by surveying students. Ask about their interests and how they use math outside of school.

Using your findings, you should find that contextualization helps some students grasp new or unfamiliar math concepts.

There are many math-related games and activities to find inspiration to implement this tactic.

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Help students practice different math skills by playing a game that’s a take on tic-tac-toe.

Prepare by dividing a sheet into squares — three vertical by three horizontal. Don’t leave them blank. Instead, fill the boxes with questions that test different abilities.

For example:

  • “Complete question X in page Y of your textbook”
  • “Draw a picture to show how to add fraction X and fraction Y”
  • “Describe a real-life situation in which you would use cross-multiplication, providing an example and solution”

You can hand out sheets to students for solo practice, or divide them into pairs and encourage friendly competition . The first one to link three Xs or Os — by correctly completing questions —  wins. 

So, depending on your preferences, this game will challenge diverse learners through either individual or small-group practice.

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Provide differentiated math learning opportunities for your students by setting up unique learning stations across your classrooms, but forgoing mandatory rotations.

The idea comes from a grade 9 teacher in Ontario, who recommends creating three stations to solve similar mathematical problems using either:

  • Data — Provide spreadsheets, requiring students to manipulate data through trial and error
  • People — Group students into pairs or triads to tackle a range of problems together, supporting each other’s learning
  • Things — Offer a hands-on option by giving each student objects to use when solving questions

Only allow students to switch stations if they feel the need. If they do, consult them about their decision. In each case, you and the student will likely learn more about his or her learning style.

Supplemented by your circulation between stations to address gaps in prior knowledge, this activity exposes students to exercises that appeal to diverse abilities.

Downloadable List of Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples

Click here to download and print a simplified list of the 20 differentiated instruction strategies and examples to keep at your desk.

Differentiated Instruction Strategies Infographic

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Here’s an infographic with 16 ideas from this article, provided by  Educational Technology and Mobile Learning  — an online resource for teaching tools and ideas.

Wrapping Up

With help from the downloadable list, use these differentiated instruction strategies and examples to suit the diverse needs and learning styles of your students.

As well as adding variety to your content, these methods will help students process your lessons and demonstrate their understanding of them.

The strategies should prove to be increasingly useful as you identify the distinct learning styles in — and learn to manage — your classroom .

Interested in other teaching strategies to deploy in your classroom?

Differentiated instruction strategies overlap in important ways with a number of other pedagogical approaches. Consider reviewing these supplementary strategies to find more ideas, combine different elements of each strategy, and enrich your pedagogical toolkit!

  • Active learning strategies   put your students at the center of the learning process, enriching the classroom experience and boosting engagement.
  • As opposed to traditional learning activities,  experiential learning activities  build knowledge and skills through direct experience.
  • Project-based learning   uses an open-ended approach in which students work alone or collectively to produce an engaging, intricate curriculum-related questions or challenges.
  • Inquiry-based learning   is subdivided into four categories, all of which promote the importance of your students' development of questions, ideas and analyses.
  • Adaptive learning  focuses on changing — or "adapting" — learning content for students on an individual basis, particularly with the help of technology.

👉 Create or log into your teacher account on Prodigy — a game-based learning platform that delivers differentiated instruction, automatically adjusting questions to accommodate player trouble spots and learning speeds. Aligned with curricula across the English-speaking world, it’s used by more than 90 million students and teachers.

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Differentiated Instruction Chapter

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DI Differentiated Instruction Chapter

Welcome to our professional development chapter on Differentiated Instruction or DI. After completing this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Define what Differentiated Instruction is
  • Explain the rationale for Differentiated Instruction?
  • Apply the principles of Differentiated Instruction to different content areas of instruction across grade levels

Before we begin, download the DI Self-Assessment Tool (PDF or Word Document). If you have already completed the MTSS and UDL chapters, you will notice that this Self-Assessment tool is a little different. It will open in another window but you will need to save this to your computer FIRST in order to save your answers.

If you have not already done so, please download the Module Workbook from one of the links provided below. Your Module Workbook contains all of the pre-assessments, exercises, scenarios and post-assessments for the entire module which includes the MTSS chapter, the UDL chapter and this chapter. In your Module Workbook under the DI chapter, you will find a link to the pre-assessment measure. Once you are ready, proceed to the

  • Module Workbook: Microsoft Word Accessible Document
  • Module Workbook: PDF Accessible Document

Home / DI Chapter

  • About the Self-Assessment
  • Introduction: What is DI? Overview

Principles of DI

  • Ways to Differentiate

Misconceptions about DI

DI in Practice: Tips and Strategies

  • Case Study: Article and Activity

Sample Lesson Plan: Critique

  • Reflection: What Would You Change?

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DI Self-Assessment Tool

Differentiated Instruction (DI)-Self-Assessment

If you have not done so already, download the Assessment tool.

The DI Self-Assessment process will help you analyze the instructional practices of your teachers to determine if and how much you need to offer Professional Development about differentiation and how often you support your teachers in understanding it as well. The self-assessment tool can also help you determine how you are helping your teachers as they plan and implement differentiated instruction in classrooms with learners with diverse abilities.

The self-assessment information can help you make decisions about adjusting your own approach to ensure that your teachers recognize the importance of DI in their classroom instruction and assessment and acquire additional skills needed for effective differentiated instruction.

The indicators of effective differentiation outlined in the self-assessment are based on four general principles, or guidelines, of differentiated instruction found in current literature (C. A. Tomlinson, 1999): In differentiated classrooms, teachers…

  • Create and sustain a responsive learning environment , providing the foundation for long-term learning and positive connections to take place among students and adults.
  • Have clarity about the learning goals , sharing, with students, what they should know, understand, and be able to do as a result of their learning.
  • Continuously assess student learning , using information about what students already know, understand, and are able to do to make ongoing instructional decisions.
  • Establish flexible student groups and respectful tasks , providing rigorous and engaging instruction matched to student needs.

You will find the instructions to use the Self-Assessment Tool at the top of the Downloadable PDF

Introduction: What is DI?

Differentiated Instruction and Assessment

Differentiated instruction and assessment is a framework for effective teaching that involves providing diverse students with different avenues to learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of acquiring content, processing and constructing ideas, and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.

Differentiated Instruction provides access for all students to the general education curriculum. The method of assessment may look different for each child, however the skill or concepts taught is the same. –adapted from Tomlinson, (2001). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms (2 ed.). Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development

Watch Getting Started with DI

What is Differentiated Instruction? Carol Tomlinson provides a concise explanation of what it means to differentiate instruction.

Back to Menu

Differentiated Instruction is a flexible student-centered approach to teaching that tailors instruction to meet students’ individual learning needs. Differentiated Instruction can be carried out on several levels of content, process, product, and affect. It also takes into consideration and adapts the learning environment to students’ needs. DI is characterized by the use of ongoing formative and summative assessment that guides instruction and allows for close monitoring of students’ learning. DI implements flexible grouping. The following diagram illustrates the complex and multi-tiered nature of DI.

Principles in Action

Respectful tasks Quality curriculum Teaching up Flexible grouping Continual assessment Building community

Ways to Differentiate…

Differentiated Instruction is a way of providing instruction that requires teachers to know their students’ strengths and areas of need and differences and similarities between students. Equipped with this information, teachers can plan more individualized instruction and assessment that will improve their students’ learning success.

After each category, Content, Process, Product, Affect, Learning Environment, are suggestions for teachers to help them respond to each students’ needs and to maximize student learning.

To differentiate content, teachers can

II. Process

To differentiate process, teachers can

III. Product

To differentiate product, teachers can

To differentiate affect, teachers can

V. Learning Environment

To differentiate learning environment, teachers can

Common Misconceptions about DI

# Misunderstanding Reality 1 Differentiation is a set of instructional strategies. Differentiation is a philosophy—a way of thinking about teaching and learning. It is, in fact, a set of principles. 2 It’s adequate for a district or school leader (or professional developers) to tell, or even show, teachers how to differentiate instruction effectively. Learning to differentiate instruction well requires rethinking one’s classroom practice and results from an ongoing process of trial, reflection, and adjustment in the classroom itself. 3 Differentiation is something a teacher does or doesn’t do (as in, “I already do that,” or “I tell our teachers that they already differentiate instruction.”). Most teachers who remain in a classroom for longer than a day do pay attention to student variation and respond to it in some way— especially with students who can threaten order in the classroom. However, very few teachers proactively plan instruction to consistently address student differences in readiness, interest, and learning profile. 4 Differentiation is just about instruction. Although differentiation is an instructional approach, effective differentiated instruction is inseparable from a positive learning environment, high-quality curriculum, assessment to inform teacher decision making, and flexible classroom management. To the degree that any one of those elements is weak, the others are also diminished. The above cited from Carol Ann Tomlinson and Marcia B. Imbeau, Leading and Managing a Differentiated Classroom

DI in Practice: Many K-12 classes have had success with DI

DI addresses a wide range of developmental educational needs of K-12 students. The following videos provide examples of differentiation at the elementary and secondary levels and discusses helpful strategies with this age groups.

Tips and Strategies for Effective DI

Di in practice: elementary school.

An illustration of differentiated instruction is elementary school.

DI in practice: Secondary School

First steps for differentiating at the secondary school level

After watching the three video clips, please answer the following in your Module Workbook under DI Chapter: Video Activity.

  • What are some examples of differentiation of content, process, product, affect and learning environment can you name?
  • What are some differentiation strategies discussed in the videos?
  • How can you adapt these strategies to your own instruction within the specific content area? Describe a specific activity that can be differentiated for diverse learners.

DI Case Study

Increasing the Teaching Efficacy of a Beginning Special Education Teacher Using Differentiated Instruction: A Case Study

Please reference the article below to complete the following two activities.

Ernest, J. M., Heckaman, K. A., Thompson, S.E., Hull, K. M. & Carter, S. W. (2011). Increasing the teaching efficacy of a beginning special education teacher using differentiated instruction: A case study. International Journal of Special Education, 26, 191-201.

Click on “Worksheet” to see the activities. In order to save your answers, you must download the PDF first and then save as you go along.

There are also links in your Module Workbook to this document. Please download the Module Workbook if you have not done so already.

Critique the provided sample lesson plans.

Activity a: critique the provided sample lesson plan found at this digitalcommons@pace link.

Questions as follow up for the activity: How does the instructor plan for differentiating the instruction? Do you think that these accommodations/modifications are good/sufficient? Why or why not? Choose one differentiated instruction strategy used. Discuss its purpose, planned delivery, and other points you consider important for this type of accommodation.

Activity B: Watch a video of an actual teaching of a lesson.

Questions after you view the video: How does the instructor plan for differentiating the instruction? Do you think that these accommodations/modifications are good/sufficient? Why or why not? What would you tell the instructor to improve his/her differentiated instruction? Support your suggestion(s).

video of an actual teaching of a lesson

Reflect: What Would You Change?

Additional ideas for activities: Choose A or B

Reflect on classes you took.

Think back to a class you took in high school or when you were in elementary school. Describe both the class and how the teacher typically conducted it. Describe five elements that you would change to make it more differentiated. (Make sure to include at least one each for content, process, and product.)

Write your own lesson

Write your own lesson plan on a topic of your choosing. Make sure that the differentiated instruction is included in the lesson plan.

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Differentiated Instruction (DI) is defined as the planning and delivery of classroom instruction that considers the varied levels of readiness, learning needs, and interests of each learner in the class. Instructors practice this approach by using a range of routines and tools to engage learners at varying levels of readiness in multiple ways and by offering them options for demonstrating their understanding and mastery of the material.

Figure 8 presents some of the analogies TEAL teachers contributed to a wiki called “In Your Own Words” in the DI online course. It captures various ways to think about what DI mght mean.

Differentiating instruction encompasses an instructor's response to learner differences by adapting curriculum and instruction on six dimensions:

Teacher-Dependent

  • Content (the what of the lesson)
  • Process (the how of the lesson)
  • Product (the learner-produced results)

Learner-Dependent

  • Profile (strengths, weaknesses, gaps)

Getting Started

Take it one dimension at a time. Look at your teaching—try to vary the content, process, or product for a particular lesson or across a unit. Look at your learners—get to know something more about their interests, profiles, or readiness. Consider incorporating the following ideas into your classroom management, instruction, and approach:

Ideas to consider for adapting the content , or the what :

  • Vary the complexity along the lines of concrete, symbolic, or abstract explorations.
  • Vary the resources, involving narrative, informational, multimedia, experts, and guests.
  • Vary the context from classrooms, programs, communities, and virtual environments.

Ideas to consider for adapting the process , or the how :

  • Work variously with the whole group, small groups, and individuals.
  • Reconsider how material is framed; try breaking up a lesson or unit in new ways to chunk and compress material.
  • Arrange flexible, changeable groupings and peer activities.
  • Provide roles and clear expectations for group members.
  • Use problem-based learning, service learning, and performance-based experiences.

Ideas to consider for adapting the product , or the result :

  • Consider all eight intelligences in your planning: verbal-linguistic, mathematical-logical, musical-rhythmic, visual-spatial, bodily kinesthetic, interpersonal, intrapersonal, and naturalist.
  • Collect and use portfolio, rubrics, peer reviews, and performance-based learning.
  • Get quick feedback through paperless routines such as thumbs up/down, ranking with fingers 1–5, etc.

Become a Student of Your Students

What are your students’ interests ? Take time to find out through methods such as the following:

  • If you had your GED or college degree tomorrow, what would you want to be doing?
  • What is one job you would want to have and why?
  • Informal conversations and ice breakers
  • Sharing opportunities with the whole class
  • Community events
  • Program support staff and transition specialists

Ideas to consider for accommodating learner profiles :

  • Disability screening results—know how to accommodate learning and attention difficulties
  • Cultural and linguistic factors
  • Health and wellness factors
  • Age and years out of school setting
  • Past educational and academic experiences

Beyond test scores, think about what you know about your learners’ readiness as evidenced by:

  • Past educational achievement
  • Background knowledge
  • Self-efficacy (How do they attribute success and effort?)

Put It Into Practice

Thanks to a TEAL teacher from Texas, for asking the following “get-real” questions about DI in adult education contexts:

Q: How does DI help teach to the multilevel class with variations in age, ability, goals and motivation, educational background—you name it?

A: Embrace diversity, don’t fight it! Here are some ideas to treat diversity as a resource:

  • Create intergenerational peer projects.
  • Assign roles in cooperative groupings so that everyone has a task (e.g., timekeeper, note taker, reporter, researcher).
  • Encourage students to work on projects of personal interest.
  • Provide multiple means of representation, expression, and engagement for lessons and across units.

Q: How does DI work when teachers don’t get timely or useful reports from students’ test scores?

A: Here are some ways to determine students’ readiness and learning profile in the classroom:

  • Design short quizzes to determine knowledge on the lesson topic; do these the day before you begin the topic, so you have a sense of what the students know.
  • Establish paperless routines that can give you a sense of the class in a quick scan.
  • Up or Down: Have students give a thumbs up or down on whether they feel confident with a particular skill (e.g., where to put commas, how to identify the main idea, how to calculate diameter).
  • Rating 1–5: Have students rate their self-assessment of a particular skill on a 1–5 scale by holding up one to five fingers.
  • Ask students to rank their own abilities with class materials. Before you begin a unit or at the start of the semester, put out your materials and give students time to browse through them. Have the students indicate which materials they could work with by categorizing them as On My Own, With Some Help, or Need Instruction .

Q: How can teachers implement the flexible grouping required in DI? Adult students don’t always work well in groups.

A: Classroom management is everyone’s responsibility! Train yourself not to answer off-topic questions and train students to:

  • Try three strategies before asking the teacher (post some strategies in the classroom).
  • Rely on others in the group.
  • Jot down a question for later.

Q: How can teachers work with multiple levels of classroom materials? The leveled workbooks are not aligned by week or topic!

A: Adapting the content is critical—here’s how:

  • Create an index to find lessons in various workbooks that are on the same topic. (This is a good volunteer task!)
  • Begin with a common, shared text and have different activities to assign based on it.
  • Find various ways to categorize your materials into thematic units, so that you can do some focused whole-group instruction and then assign varying groups to dig deeper. Your materials may not all be exactly alike, but what do they have in common? Think in general terms—do you have enough variety to designate a biography theme? A space exploration theme? A how-to or do-it-yourself theme?

How Are Teachers Incorporating DI?

Here are some goal statements TEAL teachers shared:

In my teaching, I plan to incorporate the DI principles of readiness and variable content. I will do this by establishing an intake process that has assessment processes that allow the instructor to meet the student where they are and gear the instruction to the student’s goal. Content will be determined by grade-level classes but will be adjusted to meet the wide variety of learning styles and academic levels within that class. I will monitor my progress on this goal by student assessment, student grouping, and student exit surveys. —Jami Anderson, Wyoming TEAL Team

In my teaching, I have already changed my plans and incorporated the DI principles of content and process. I did this by slowing down the amount of new material that I taught at once. I monitored my progress on this goal by the immediate response of the learners. I asked my students about their feelings on the new material and immediately decided to hold off on the other two new concepts for that day. Instead of discussing it all at once, I spread the lesson out over three days with lots of practice and discussion, which seems to be very successful for this group of learners. —Kelsee Miller, Wyoming TEAL Team

For more information, see the TEAL Center Fact Sheet on Differentiated Instruction at the end of this section.

COMMENTS

  1. Differentiated Instruction

    A Powerful Combination of Assessment & Instruction to Help Students with the Key Concepts. Ideal for Students Who Need Extra Support to Meet Grade-Level Math Requirements.

  2. What is differentiated instruction?

    At a glance. Differentiated instruction is a teaching approach that tailors instruction to students' different learning needs. It lets students show what they know in different ways. It doesn't replace the goals in a child's IEP or 504 plan. Differentiated instruction is a teaching approach that tailors instruction to all students ...

  3. Differentiated Instruction

    Differentiated Instruction (DI) is fundamentally the attempt to teach differently to different students, rather than maintain a one-size-fits-all approach to instruction. Other frameworks, such as Universal Design for Learning, enjoin instructors to give students broad choice and agency to meet their diverse needs and interests.

  4. What Is Differentiated Instruction?

    What Is Differentiated Instruction? By: Carol Ann Tomlinson. Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. Whether teachers differentiate content, process, products, or the learning environment, the use of ongoing assessment and flexible grouping makes this a successful approach to instruction.

  5. IRIS

    Page 1: Defining Differentiated Instruction. Mr. Shelton learns that differentiated instruction is an approach whereby teachers adjust their curriculum and instruction to maximize the learning of all students: average learners, English language learners, struggling students, students with learning disabilities, and gifted and talented students.

  6. PDF What Is Differentiated Instruction and Why Differentiate?

    Differentiated instruction is a blend of whole-class, group, and individual instruction. The teacher uses a variety of instructional strategies to help target instruction to students' needs. Students work in a variety of group configurations, as well as independently. Flexible grouping is evident. Differentiated instruction is.

  7. Differentiated Instruction: Examples & Classroom Strategies

    According to Tomlinson, teachers can differentiate instruction through four ways: 1) content, 2) process, 3) product, and 4) learning environment. 1. Content. As you already know, fundamental lesson content should cover the standards of learning set by the school district or state educational standards.

  8. PDF Demystifying Differentiated Instruction

    At this moment, differentiated instruction (DI) is needed to ensure that all students develop a response to the question. Then DI will be used to adjust instruction based on student answers. However, it may be difficult for this teacher to use DI because there is not a common vivid picture of what DI looks like in the classroom.

  9. How Does Changing "One-Size-Fits-All" to Differentiated Instruction

    Differentiated Instruction (DI) was a suggested practice for effectively implementing RtI to serve diverse learner needs in general classrooms (Gersten et al., 2008). However, given the pressures from policy to practice, did teachers change from a one-size-fits-all approach to DI?

  10. Differentiated instruction

    Multiple learning. Differentiated instruction and assessment, also known as differentiated learning or, in education, simply, differentiation, is a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing all students within their diverse classroom community of learners a range of different avenues for understanding new information (often in the same classroom) in terms of ...

  11. IRIS

    Maximizing the Learning of All Students. This module discusses the importance of differentiating three aspects of instruction: content, process (instructional methods), and product (assessment). It explores the student traits—readiness level, interest, and learning preferences—that influence learning (est. completion time: 3 hours).

  12. Differentiated Instruction as an Approach to Establish Effective

    Differentiated Instruction (DI) has been promoted as a model to facilitate more inclusive classrooms by addressing individual learning needs and maximizing learning opportunities (Gheyssens et al., 2020c).DI aims to establish maximal learning opportunities by differentiating the instruction in terms of content, process, and product in accordance with students their readiness, interests and ...

  13. PDF Differentiated Instruction: An Introduction

    Differentiated instruction is guided by a teacher's core beliefs about the nature of intelligence, the factors influencing motivation for learning, and the roles of teachers and students in the learning process. Do. Differentiate between fixed and growth mindset among students and teachers. Evaluate and reflect on your own teaching beliefs ...

  14. Promoting High-Achieving Students Through Differentiated Instruction in

    Differentiated instruction can be seen as a part of the broader construct differentiation, which not only includes DI during a lesson but also student assessment, evaluation, philosophical aspects, and more general principles (cf. Smale-Jacobse et al., 2019; Tomlinson, 2014).To attain a clear focus despite the fuzzy construct of differentiation (Deunk et al., 2018), we focused the current ...

  15. Utilization of differentiated instruction in K-12 classrooms: a

    Differentiated instruction (DI) is a beneficial approach to addressing students' diverse learning needs, abilities, and interests to ensure that each student has the opportunity to make academic progress. To answer the question of how teachers utilize DI in K-12 classrooms, this systematic review was based on 61 empirical studies on DI published between 2000 and 2022. It examined the current ...

  16. 50 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples for Teachers

    The use of "evens and odds" for math worksheets is a good example of differentiated instruction for special ed students. (DI Areas: Product, Assessment) Scaffolding: Provide support for students by breaking down learning into manageable chunks. Find multiple ways to scaffold instruction here.

  17. PDF Key Elements of Differentiated Instruction

    Affect/learning environment—the effect of students‟ emotions and feelings on their learning—is another element of differentiated instruction. Our emotions and feelings, which are created by our past experiences and our reactions to current experiences, influence our self-concept, as well as motivation to learn and ability to collaborate.

  18. Differentiated Instruction in Teaching and Teacher Education, the DI

    The DI-Quest model reveals that adaptive teaching is predicted by teachers' philosophies (i.e., growth mindset and ethical compass) and their practices (i.e., flexible grouping and output = input) (Coubergs et al. 2017 ). Differentiated instruction occurs ideally when teachers have all these factors in mind.

  19. PDF Differentiated instruction: A research basis

    936 Differentiated instruction: A research basis Given that the model of differentiated instruction is relatively new, attempts were made to draw as many references into the discussion. Despite efforts to ensure a comprehensive and exhaustive review of the literature relating to differentiating instruction, this analysis cannot be complete.

  20. 20 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples

    What we share in common makes us human. How we differ makes us individuals. In a classroom with little or no differentiated instruction, only student similarities seem to take center stage. In a differentiated classroom, commonalities are acknowledged and built upon, and student differences become important elements in teaching and learning as ...

  21. Differentiated Instruction Chapter

    Differentiated instruction and assessment is a framework for effective teaching that involves providing diverse students with different avenues to learning (often in the same classroom) in terms of acquiring content, processing and constructing ideas, and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.

  22. Differentiated Instruction (DI)

    Overview of Differentiated Instruction (DI) Whether teaching online or in a F2F classroom, understanding the basic principles of differentiation is important to the success of the teacher as well as the success of the students in understanding and applying the learning objectives in a course of study. The theory of differentiated instruction is ...

  23. Differentiated Instruction

    Differentiated Instruction. Differentiated Instruction (DI) is defined as the planning and delivery of classroom instruction that considers the varied levels of readiness, learning needs, and interests of each learner in the class. Instructors practice this approach by using a range of routines and tools to engage learners at varying levels of ...

  24. Differentiated Instruction (DI)

    Differentiated Instruction (DI) is a systematic educational approach in which teachers modify content, teaching and learning activities to honour the range of student backgrounds and maximise their learning opportunities and capacities (Tomlinson, 2017).