- Awards Season
- Big Stories
- Pop Culture
- Video Games
The Benefits of Implementing an AI Question Bot on Your Website
In today’s fast-paced digital world, customer service has become a key differentiator for businesses. Providing prompt and efficient support to customers is crucial in building trust and loyalty. One innovative solution that has gained traction in recent years is the implementation of an AI question bot on websites. These intelligent chatbots are powered by artificial intelligence algorithms that enable them to understand and respond to customer queries in real-time. In this article, we will explore the benefits of implementing an AI question bot on your website.
Enhanced Customer Experience
One of the primary advantages of using an AI question bot is the enhanced customer experience it provides. Gone are the days of long wait times and frustrating phone menus. With an AI question bot, customers can get instant responses to their queries 24/7, ensuring a seamless interaction with your brand at any time of day or night. These chatbots are designed to mimic human conversation, making customers feel heard and understood.
Moreover, AI question bots can analyze vast amounts of data quickly, enabling them to provide accurate and personalized responses tailored to each individual customer’s needs. This level of personalization enhances customer satisfaction as they feel valued by your brand.
Increased Efficiency and Cost Savings
Implementing an AI question bot can significantly increase efficiency within your organization. Unlike human agents who have limited capacity for simultaneous interactions, AI bots can handle multiple conversations simultaneously without compromising response time or quality. This means you can scale your customer support operations without increasing headcount, resulting in significant cost savings.
Furthermore, AI question bots can handle repetitive inquiries that often consume a substantial portion of human agent’s time. By automating these routine tasks, your human agents are freed up to focus on more complex issues that require their expertise. This not only increases productivity but also improves job satisfaction among employees who now have more meaningful work.
Data Collection and Analysis
Another valuable benefit of implementing an AI question bot is the wealth of data it can generate. Every interaction with customers provides valuable insights into their preferences, pain points, and needs. AI bots can collect and analyze this data to identify trends, patterns, and areas for improvement.
By leveraging this data, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of their customers’ behavior and preferences. This knowledge can inform marketing strategies, product development, and customer service improvements. The ability to gather real-time feedback allows businesses to stay agile and adapt quickly to changing market demands.
Continuous Learning and Improvement
AI question bots are not static entities; they have the ability to learn and improve over time. As more interactions occur, these bots can analyze the effectiveness of their responses based on customer feedback. This iterative learning process enables them to refine their algorithms continually.
By constantly improving their understanding of customer inquiries and refining their responses, AI question bots become more accurate, efficient, and capable of handling complex queries. This continuous learning ensures that your customers receive better support with each interaction.
In conclusion, implementing an AI question bot on your website offers numerous benefits for both your business and your customers. From enhancing customer experience to increasing efficiency and cost savings, these intelligent chatbots are revolutionizing the way businesses provide support. By leveraging the power of artificial intelligence, you can elevate your customer service capabilities while gaining valuable insights into your target audience’s needs and preferences. Stay ahead of the competition by embracing this technology-driven solution today.
This text was generated using a large language model, and select text has been reviewed and moderated for purposes such as readability.
MORE FROM ASK.COM
Professional learning services.
- Get Started
Differentiated Instruction Defined and How to Implement It
Engage the most students and create the best outcomes for entire classrooms with differentiated instruction. It’s a teaching method that helps bring struggling students up to speed, enables gifted students to learn at a faster pace, and makes teacher’s lives easier because learning is more effective. When you use differentiated instruction, you’re steering all your students toward the same learning objectives, while giving students the freedom to choose how they get there.
What Is Differentiated Instruction and Why Is It Important?
Differentiated instruction is the process of tailoring lessons to meet each student’s individual interests, needs, and strengths. Teaching this way gives students choice and flexibility in how they learn, and helps teachers personalize learning. This method also requires instructional clarity and clearly defined goals for learning, better enabling students to meet those goals.
What Are Some Differentiated Instruction Strategies?
You can differentiate instruction across four main areas: content, process, product, and environment.
To differentiate content , teachers consider the objective of a lesson, then provide students with flexible options about the content they study to meet the objective, from subject or topic to approach or presentation.
With process differentiation, teachers differentiate how students learn. Grouping students based on their individual readiness or to complement each other is one way to accomplish process differentiation. Another is varying the way concepts are taught: through visual, auditory, or kinesthetic lessons, for example.
Product differentiation applies to the types of assignments students create. A teacher might ask students to explain a concept; the product could be a written report, a story, a song, a speech, or an art project. Varying the types of assessments you give students is also an example of product differentiation.
The classroom environment also affects learning. Changing physical things in the classroom, like how desks are set up or arranged, or where students can sit (on beanbags, for example), serves as classroom environment differentiation, which can also include changes to routines and habits.
What Are the Benefits of Differentiated Instruction?
Differentiated instruction is beneficial because it helps educators connect with different learning styles. Not all students will respond to a class lecture; a game or a video may work better with other students. Some students may learn better by reading than they do using a computer. Giving students choices about how they learn enables them to meet learning objectives in the best way for them.
In some classrooms, differentiation will be required for students with disabilities and for English language learners . Differentiating instruction gives all students the opportunity to keep pace with learning objectives.
No matter what you’re teaching, some students will find certain material engaging, while others won’t, and students will learn the same material in varying amounts of time. Want to make whatever you’re teaching more likely to resonate with each one of your students? Differentiated instruction motivates them to learn the material in a way conducive to their own interests and unique learning styles.
What Do Experts Say About Differentiated Instruction?
“We differentiate instruction to honor the reality of the students we teach. They are energetic and outgoing. They are quiet and curious. They are confident and self-doubting. They are interested in a thousand things and deeply immersed in a particular topic. They are academically advanced and ‘kids in the middle’ and struggling due to cognitive, emotional, economic, or sociological challenges. Many of them speak a different language at home. They learn at different rates and in different ways. And they all come together in our academically diverse classrooms.” – Carol Ann Tomlinson (William Clay Parrish, Jr. Professor and Chair of Educational Leadership, Foundations, and Policy)
“Differentiating instruction is really a way of thinking, not a preplanned list of strategies. Oftentimes, it is making decisions in the moment based on this mindset. It’s recognizing that ‘fair’ doesn’t always mean treating everyone equally. It’s recognizing that all of our students bring different gifts and challenges, and that as educators, we need to recognize those differences and use our professional judgment to flexibly respond to them in our teaching.” – Larry Ferlazzo (award-winning teacher at Luther Burbank High School in Sacramento, California, who writes a teacher advice column for Education Week)
“All teachers want their students to succeed, and all teachers try to make this happen. That is all differentiation is. We complicate differentiation by not allowing ourselves to be provisional with how we apply the foundational pieces of differentiated instruction. Instead, if we address these four questions in our instructional planning, differentiation will always be the result: What do my students need? How do I know? What will I do to meet their needs? How do I know if what I’m doing is working?” – Lisa Westman (instructional coaching, differentiation, and standards-based grading consultant and professional development facilitator)
“Differentiated instruction is dynamic and organic. In a differentiated learning space, teachers and students learn together. Students focus on learning the course content, while teachers tailor their instructional strategies to student learning styles.” – Alexa Epitropoulous (media and author relations specialist at ASCD)
How to Implement Differentiated Instruction
To ensure that the same objectives are being pursued by all students (though they each take their own path to get there), differentiated instruction must be standards-based.
First steps for teachers should include diagnostic testing and learning inventories. Your goal is to set baselines for individual students. Then you can identify tactics to help each student achieve the objectives and deliver custom-tailored content.
Differentiated instruction is evident when teachers:
- Offer students options to choose from in assignments or lesson plans.
- Provide multiple texts and types of learning materials.
- Utilize a variety of personalized learning methods and student assessments.
- Customize teaching to suit multiple forms of intelligence.
For differentiated instruction to be successful, teachers must clearly explain the learning goals and the criteria for success. Differentiated learning thrives in a classroom environment where students are working toward shared goals with a growth mindset. Teachers must identify and be responsive to student needs, creating a supportive classroom culture where students embrace differentiation for themselves and their peers.
Knowing the unique needs of your students enables you to teach them more effectively, with the goal of improving cognitive and academic outcomes. Learning A-Z provides thousands of differentiated instruction resources for all types of learners. Our products make teaching easier and more effective, giving students more flexibility and learning options.
Support Differentiated Instruction in Your Classroom
Explore our literacy solutions trusted by teachers worldwide, or start a complimentary trial with your students today.
EXPLORE PRODUCTS START TRIAL
You May Also Like
Shop products, awards and accolades.
Sign up to receive our eNews, updates, and offers.
- Learning A-Z Facebook
- Learning A-Z twitter
- Learning A-Z linkedin
- Learning A-Z Instagram
A Cambium Learning® Group Brand
K-12 Resources By Teachers, For Teachers Provided by the K-12 Teachers Alliance
- Teaching Strategies
- Classroom Activities
- Classroom Management
- Technology in the Classroom
- Professional Development
- Lesson Plans
- Writing Prompts
- Graduate Programs
Implementing Differentiated Instruction Strategies
- September 16, 2014
To help each individual student reach their fullest potential, teachers should try differentiated instruction strategies. These educational techniques accommodate each student’s learning style, readiness, and interest. Differentiated instruction strategies use a variety of educational methods to teach students the same information. These techniques may also require teachers to teach content at varying levels based on students’ readiness. The goal of differentiated instruction strategies is to ensure that all students are engaged in the learning process by providing tasks that match each individual’s needs.
Differentiated Instruction Strategies
Teachers differentiate instruction through a variety of different ways: flexible grouping, learning centers, and independent study, to name a few. Here we will take a look at each of them.
Flexible grouping allows students to work in groups with peers who are both similar and dissimilar to them. Teachers use flexible grouping because it provides students with the opportunity to work with others that have similar learning styles, readiness, or interests, or to learn from others with differences. Depending upon the purpose of the lesson, teachers can plan their activities based on a student’s attributes, then use flexible grouping to group students accordingly.
The key to flexible grouping is to make sure that the groups are not static. Teachers must continually conduct assessments throughout the school year and move students among the groups as they master skills. Oftentimes teachers tend to group students according to their ability in the beginning of the school year and then never change the makeup of the groups. This is not an effective technique, and this stagnation will only hinder a child from progressing.
Learning centers are stations that contain a variety of materials where students can explore topics or practice skills on their own. By their very nature, they are flexible and can address many learners’ needs. With a few adjustments, they can be a great way to differentiate instruction. Teachers can design centers with different levels of complexity or for different subject areas.
Learning centers offer teachers the opportunity to present the same information in a variety of different ways that engage all students. Whenever an educator presents information that engages all modalities, it increases the chances that he or she will reach every student in the class.
An independent study is designed for students (usually older ones) that have mastered content. It is best when based on a student’s personal interest (say, advanced journalism), and it tends to be more effective when the student chooses the topic. In order for an independent study to be successful, the teacher needs to be sure the student or students are proficient in the skills that are required to complete the study.
To help students choose a topic of study, it is wise to conduct an interest survey before they begin. Then, to ensure a successful study, teachers need to go over the skills students need to complete the task, as well as lay out expectations to help them stay on track.
Tiered assignments are a series of related tasks varying in complexity. The activities relate to the students’ readiness levels and key skills that they need to acquire. Both formal and informal assessments must be given to determine the level of understanding a student has on the subject matter.
Activities can be designed for small groups or individuals. Many teachers find that this differentiated instructional strategy is a great way for students to reach the same goals by taking into account each student’s individual needs.
An easy way teachers can help students is to adjust discussion questions according to the students’ readiness or ability levels. Teachers adjust their questions and level of complexity based on what fits that particular child. Teachers use Bloom’s Taxonomy to develop queries from the very basic to the more advanced. This is a great way for teachers to design a more effective curriculum for students at different places on the learning spectrum.
When students are given a choice of what they want to learn, it can be a great motivator. Teachers can give options based on student interest or learning style . They can also be given choices as to what will be learned or how they will learn the information. Options can include activities, learning centers, independent study, small groups , or others. Choice activities are well-known for improving students’ motivation based on their own needs.
Differentiated instruction takes a lot of planning on the teacher’s end, but the benefits far outweigh the stress. With continuous assessment and the use of multiple teaching strategies, educators can accommodate all their students’ learning styles. In the end, the main goal is to strive to engage all learners by attempting to match their needs.
- #DifferentiatedInstruction , #TeachingStrategies
More in Teaching Strategies
How to Promote Civic Engagement through English and Math
Civic engagement provides excellent opportunities for students to serve others and their communities…
Helping Students Explore CTE Programs
If you have been in education for a while, especially secondary education, you…
Developing Ethical Thinking in STEM
What Does STEM Encompass? STEM, which is the acronym for Science, Technology, Engineering,…
Nonfiction Reading Strategies for Older Students
How Does Reading Nonfiction Differ from Fiction? The good news is that kids…
- Prodigy Math
- Prodigy English
From our blog
- Is a Premium Membership Worth It?
- Promote a Growth Mindset
- Help Your Child Who's Struggling with Math
- Parent's Guide to Prodigy
- Math Curriculum Coverage
- English Curriculum Coverage
- Game Portal
20 Differentiated Instruction Strategies and Examples [+ Downloadable List]
Reviewed by Allison Sinclair, M.T.
- 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
- “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.
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
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.
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.
4 ways to implement Differentiated Instruction strategies in the classroom
When it comes to engaging all of your students, you’ve probably realized that students learn in different ways. Some may work best when engaged in group work , while you may find others that perform best when working on their own. If this is the case, differentiated instruction and assessment , also known as differentiated learning , is the framework you need to reach students through different avenues of learning.
The term differentiated instruction was introduced in the late 1990s by Carol Tomlinson, who describes differentiation:
At its most basic level, differentiating instruction means “shaking up” what goes on in the classroom so that students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn. In other words, a differentiated classroom provides different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively. ( Tomlinson 2001 )
While integrating scaffolding strategies is centered around the class as a whole, providing structures to clarify learning objectives, differentiated instruction provides individual students with specific steps towards taking control of their learning experience. This framework requires you to assess how your lessons affect students before, during, and after class. Tomlinson describes four ways to differentiate the learning experience. Here we’ll walk you through a list for implementing these four differentiation strategies into your classroom:
1. Create a differentiated learning environment – The first differentiation technique changes the physical layout of the classroom. Organize your classroom into flexible workstations. This will require you to move furniture around to support both individual and group work. For example, you can create a teaching table where teacher-led instruction will take place. This workstation would be focused on teaching new, challenging material.
2. Prepare thoughtful lessons backed by data – Before you even begin teaching each lesson, you should examine past assessments, collected data, work samples, and student observations to identify specific instructional strengths for each student. Then you can change the process of the learning experience by assigning different tasks to different learners. A good way to differentiate the learning process is to have a series of tiered assignments for each of your lessons. By creating a variety of related tasks at varying difficulty, you’ll be able to give specific tasks to certain groups or individual students based on their skill level. They can then work their way up to the highest assignment. You’ll want to make sure that you’re continually assessing students’ progress with Classtime and providing them with relevant feedback that will help them work towards their educational goals.
Quick Tip : With Classtime , you can keep multiple question sets organized in your library and easily assign tiered tasks to different groups and individuals. Plus, the PDF and Excel session exports will keep all of your lesson’s data organized so you can easily assess and adapt.
3. Tailor assignments based on students’ learning goals – Using differentiation strategies to shake up the end product that students turn in for assignments can also help you reach different learners. Some students are visual learners, while others may be auditory learners or readers. You can offer students different avenues to present their understanding of the lesson based on how they learn the material. For example, some visual learners may want to create a poster to show their understanding of Newton’s first law of motion (inertia), while readers may prefer to write a paper or auditory learners may want to give an oral presentation.
4. Adjust your lesson content based on student needs – The most apparent way of differentiating the learning process is to change the type of content you use in your lessons. During a lecture discussing Lady Macbeth’s morality, you may see that certain students aren’t paying attention, or are completely lost. Switch the content up by using computer programs, audio recordings, videos or even making it an interactive lesson by having students act out scenes from the play.
Remember, it’s important to keep your eyes and ears open when using differentiated instruction. You’ll need to constantly assess how your efforts are affecting your students while keeping the discussion open and engagement high. Differentiated instruction takes a lot of planning, but with continuous assessment and varying strategies, you’ll be able to accommodate all of your students’ learning styles.
Classtime can help you get started with differentiated instruction in the classroom today.
Sign Up For Free
Next article, 10 thoughts on “4 ways to implement differentiated instruction strategies in the classroom”, palaniappan. k.
This Method Is Very Helpful To The Students.
Allyson M Blandin
Differentiated Instruction is most effective in classrooms with a wide range of intellectual capabilities and learning styles. It is important that students’ psycho-educational needs be adequately accommodated to ensure that each student has access to meaningful learning opportunities.
I believe, for instruction to be differentiated the classroom teachers need a very careful planing and organization of their content and the resource materials. More significantly, assessing instruction/learning through multiple methods and techniques is a must in differentiated instruction which otherwise may not bring the desired results.
Very useful tips
can anyone please share the best differentiated tasks that really worked well!
very helpful. to be honest creating a differentiated instruction strategies is very hard because every learner has unique perception. I think the best way is to classify the learners first before creating the instructions. as much as possible 2-3 instructions so that educators won’t get exhausted.
What are the objectives of Differentiated instructions? Give me 4.
Thank you very much
Access to learning Motivation Engagement Efficiency of learning Appropriate level of challenge Opportunity to express learning
Advance an argument to justify the use of differentiated instruction at the High school
Leave a Reply Cancel reply
Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *
Trauma-Informed Practices in Schools
Teacher well-being, cultivating diversity, equity, & inclusion, integrating technology in the classroom, social-emotional development, covid-19 resources, invest in resilience: summer toolkit, civics & resilience, all toolkits, degree programs, trauma-informed professional development, teacher licensure & certification, how to become - career information, classroom management, instructional design, lifestyle & self-care, online higher ed teaching, current events, 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.
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
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
You may also like to read
- Creative Academic Instruction: Music Resources for the Classroom
- How Teachers Use Student Data to Improve Instruction
- Advice on Positive Classroom Management that Works
- Five Skills Online Teachers Need for Classroom Instruction
- 3 Examples of Effective Classroom Management
- Advice on Improving your Elementary Math Instruction
Categorized as: Tips for Teachers and Classroom Resources
Tagged as: Curriculum and Instruction , Diversity , Engaging Activities , New Teacher , Pros and Cons
- Certificates in Administrative Leadership
- Trauma-Informed Practices in School: Teaching...
- Certificates for Reading Specialist
Differentiation strategies: a teacher's guide
February 9, 2022
What does differentiation in the classroom look like and how can we use this concept to make learning accessible and challenging for everyone?
What is Differentiation in the classroom?
Differentiation is a way to modify instruction to meet students' individual needs . Teachers may differentiate process , content , resources , or the learning environment. A flexible grouping and ongoing assessment can make differentiation one of the most successful instructional strategies.
Differentiation is a teaching approach that modifies instruction to meet the individual needs of students . Teachers can differentiate in various ways, such as through the process of instruction, the content being taught, the resources used, or the learning environment.
By providing flexible grouping and ongoing assessment, teachers can make differentiation one of the most successful instructional strategies .
The goal of differentiation is to ensure that all students are challenged and engaged in their learning, regardless of their skill level or learning style*. With differentiation, teachers can tailor their instruction to meet the diverse needs of their students and help them achieve academic success.
Differentiation is all about creating a personalized learning experience for each student. By adapting instruction to meet individual needs, teachers can create a more engaging and effective learning experience for their students.
This can include activities that cater to different learning styles (*this theory has been heavily criticised as it has been taken out of context in many classrooms), such as visual aids for visual learners or hands-on activities for kinesthetic learners. Differentiation can also involve adjusting the level of difficulty of assignments or providing extra support for struggling students . Ultimately, the goal of differentiation is to create a positive and inclusive learning experience that helps each student reach their full potential.
One may consider differentiation, as a way to teach or even a philosophy that's designed to meet the needs of the whole class. It is not a package or collection of worksheets . It motivates teachers to understand their pupils so they can help each student to enhance learning .
As Carol Ann Tomlinson (1999) explains, differentiation means providing students with many options for gaining knowledge. Carol Ann Tomlinson believes that Differentiation is an instructional strategy to help educators teach while keeping students as well as content in mind. Differentiation ensures that learning and teaching work for every student, which really should be a teacher's main purpose of teaching. Differentiating teaching means that the teacher would observe and identify the similarities and differences among students and use this knowledge to teach students.
How can we differentiate instruction?
According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, there are four ways in which teachers may differentiate their instruction.
1. Content: There are six levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy (a classification of degrees of intellectual behaviour ranging from lower-order thinking skills to higher-order thinking skills of advanced learners) i.e. remembering, conceptual understanding, applying, analyzing, evaluating, and creating. Therefore, according to Carol Ann Tomlinson, the teachers must differentiate the content by creating activities for each group of students covering different levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy .
2. Process: Every student has a preferred style of learning, and successful differentiation allows the delivery of instruction to different mediums of learning (we are not advocating for learning styles!): auditory learners, visual, verbal and kinesthetic learners. This process-related strategy also considers the fact that each student demands a different amount of support from the instructor, and they may choose to work individually, in groups or pairs. Carol Ann Tomlinson believes that teachers may improve learning by providing support based on the individual needs of each student. The universal thinking framework enables teachers to design different learning journeys that achieve the same goal. Instead of using generic strategies for everyone, teachers can move pupils from an introductory level to a more advanced understanding of the content using the learning actions. Advanced learners can be stretched and challenged using the red icons that indicate higher-order thinking.
3. Product: After completing a lesson, the students create a product to show content mastery. It may be in the form of reports, projects, tests or any other activity. For example, according to Carol Ann Tomlinson, the teachers may ask students to complete activities to show mastery of maths lessons as preferred by the students, depending upon their preferred learning style.
4. learning environment: The optimal learning conditions include both psychological and physical elements. A differentiated classroom layout is crucial, including a wide range of arrangements and classroom furniture to support both personal and group work. Carol Ann Tomlinson states that to support students' psychological wellbeing, teachers must use that classroom management and teaching strategies that promote a supportive and safe learning environment.
What are the most popular Differentiation Strategies used in a classroom?
There are several broad differentiation strategies that can be used across different subject areas. Differentiation begins from the students' essential understandings, prior knowledge assessment and skills and through individual learning objectives .
It is suggested that the success criteria and the respective learning objectives must be shared with the students. This fosters self-regulation, metacognition and empowers learners to control their learning progress . Following are some of the most effective differentiation strategies used in a differentiated classroom:
- Ongoing, formative assessment : Teachers need to continually assess and identify students’ areas of need and strengths so they can modify their teaching style and help students to move forward .
- Response to Intervention : This is a very effective focused differentiation strategy, which is normally implemented as a whole school implementation technique. This multi-layered approach to classroom learning allows teachers to identify individual learner abilities and help to provide additional instruction to the students who may take advantage of teaching in more targeted settings.
- Recognition of diverse students: Each student has a diverse level of expertise and experience with reading , writing, speaking, thinking and problem-solving. Ongoing assessments are the most common strategies that allow teachers to adjusting content and plan differentiated instruction strategies to fulfil every students’ needs.
- Explicit Teaching: In explicit teaching , the differentiation focus remains on offering students a strong conceptual understanding of new ideas and knowledge and opportunities for individual and group practice . The phases of this strategy, frequently simplified to "I do, we do, you do", offer numerous opportunities to differentiation. In the phase of "we do," teachers model the new knowledge application, they can evaluate the conceptual understanding level, give feedback to the students, design targeted interventions and offer further support to the entire class. In the phase of "you do," teachers may walk in the classroom and offer individual feedback , invite individual auditory learners for conferencing, and create small groups for differentiated instruction.
- Group Work: This is a student focused differentiation strategy in which learners collaborate in small groups and pairs and the members of the group may change as needed. Learning in groups is a focused strategy that allows learners to learn and observe from each other and to engage in meaningful conversations .
- Feedback : Feedback has a major role in differentiation. Actionable and timely feedback allows learners to identify the next stages needed to enhance their basic learning. Individualised feedback, alongside the clear success criteria and learning intentions may promote self-regulation. Here the differentiation focus remains on the advanced learners' feedback, which may also help regular students to show a deep understanding of the success criteria and what advanced learners may do to improve their essential understandings, level of competency and learning process.
- Problem Solving : The main focus of the lesson plan with differentiated instruction remains on the concepts and issues, rather than the chapter or “the book.” This motivates learners to explore big ideas and improve their knowledge of key concepts.
- Flipped Classroom: Within the flipped classroom, the learning phase of direct instruction occurs online or at students' homes. For example, students may access their content (mostly in the form of videos composed by their maths teachers) anywhere and at any time. A flipped classroom experience offers great opportunities for differentiation as it allows teachers to spend more of their free time in the classroom with their students. Teachers may spend their free classroom time addressing a group or individual needs or providing feedback to the students. Students may also forge ahead, learn to self-regulate or spend time to improve their level of competency and revise the level of complexity of content that needs revision .
- Choice : Teachers may use 'Choice' as a focus strategy and leave it to students to decide what do they wish to read or write in the projects and tasks they complete. While engaging students in this student focused differentiation strategy, teachers may change different aspects of content leading to continuous improvement in students and create motivating assignments according to students' varied interests, level of competency and diverse needs.
Tips on Differentiating in the Classroom
Teachers spend hours every week preparing lessons and teaching students. This means they often don't have much time left for themselves.
So, here are our top tips for teachers to differentiate class instruction.
1. Use Technology to Help Students Learn
Technology has changed education forever. Teachers no longer have to rely solely on textbooks and lectures to teach students . Instead, technology allows teachers to deliver content in an engaging manner. For example, instead of using a textbook to teach reading comprehension , teachers can use interactive books such as iBooks 2. They can also use apps such as Duolingo to provide language learning opportunities. This helps students learn faster and retain information better. And these tools allow teachers to focus on delivering quality content rather than spending time on lesson preparation.
2. Create Lesson Plans That Work For Everyone
It's common for teachers to prepare one set of lesson plans for each subject. However, this doesn't necessarily mean that everyone learns the same way. Some students may benefit from visual aids , whereas others may learn better from listening to a lecture. Therefore, it makes sense to tailor lesson plans to individual student needs. To do this, teachers can ask students questions about their interests and preferences. Then, they can plan lessons accordingly. For example, if a student enjoys playing sports, he or she may learn better from watching videos of sporting events. If a student prefers to read, teachers can assign articles from online news sources.
By tailoring lesson plans to individual students' needs , teachers can ensure that all students receive the most effective form of learning .
3. Provide Feedback Throughout Class
Feedback is essential for improving performance. Therefore, providing feedback to students should be part of any teacher's daily routine. However, it takes time to give feedback . Therefore, teachers should schedule regular meetings with students to discuss progress and answer questions. These meetings can be scheduled once per week, once per month, or whenever needed. By scheduling regular meetings, teachers can address issues quickly and efficiently.
4. Encourage Student Collaboration
Collaborative learning is becoming increasingly popular among educators. Students working together to solve problems can improve their understanding of concepts. In addition, collaborative learning encourages students to share knowledge and resources. As a result, students become more confident in their abilities and develop stronger relationships with peers.
To encourage collaboration, teachers can hold group discussions , host guest speakers, and organize field trips. These activities can help students understand complex topics and foster friendships between classmates.
5. Make Learning Fun
Learning isn't supposed to be boring. Therefore, teachers should strive to make learning fun . They can do this by incorporating games into lessons, encouraging students to participate in debates, and offering rewards for academic achievement . Students enjoy learning when they feel engaged and excited about what they're doing. By creating a positive environment , teachers can motivate students to achieve higher grades.
As you can see, there are plenty of ways to differentiate classroom instruction. With these five tips, you can help students learn effectively and enjoy school.
Differentiation in your classroom
The most effective teachers may use evidence of differentiation focus, knowledge about individual student learning profiles, students' ability levels , basic learning progress and their learning readiness, to make changes in different aspects of content such as level of complexity and lesson planning to ensure that each student must experience success, challenge and improved learning.
A student focused differentiation strategy allows teachers to tailor instruction to fulfil individual needs. In conjunction with focus strategies of process , content , learning environment or product , the teachers may use other approaches such as flexible grouping and ongoing assessment to make differentiation a successful instructional strategy.
If you are using an inquiry-based learning or project-based learning pedagogy , you might want to look at the block building methodology. This learning strategy helps students develop deep conceptual understanding within a playful environment. This innovative method is also a good example of a differentiated instruction strategy.
Advanced learners can take their knowledge in different directions whilst pupils working at introductory levels can move through the task at their own pace. This strategy is not just for kinaesthetic learners (we now understand so much more about learning styles ), the colour-coded nature of the strategy helps children to organise their thinking which produces rich dialogue .
Teachers need to be able to differentiate effectively because students learn differently. Differentiating instruction means tailoring lessons to each student's needs. This requires knowing your students' strengths and weaknesses, understanding their learning styles, and being aware of their interests and passions.
To help teachers differentiate effectively, I recommend creating lesson plans based on the following three principles:
1) Focus on skills rather than content . Students should master specific skills instead of memorizing facts and figures.
2) Use multiple strategies to teach the same skill. One strategy may work better for some students, while another works better for others.
3) Create a variety of activities to engage different types of learners.
These principles apply equally well to online courses. To create effective online courses , instructors must understand their students' learning preferences and design course materials accordingly.
When designing online courses, instructors should use these three principles to ensure that students receive the most efficient form of instruction possible.
Enhance outcomes across your school
Download an overview of our classroom toolkit.
We'll send it over now.
Please fill in the details so we can send over the resources.
What type of school are you?
We'll get you the right resource
Is your school involved in any staff development projects?
Are your colleagues running any research projects or courses?
Do you have any immediate school priorities?
Please check the ones that apply.
Download your resource
Thanks for taking the time to complete this form, submit the form to get the tool.
Donate (opens in a new window)
What Is Differentiated Instruction?
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.
- How to vary the level of content you present,How to provide a variety of learning environments,Different ways students can show what they've learned
At its most basic level, differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to variance among learners in the classroom. Whenever a teacher reaches out to an individual or small group to vary his or her teaching in order to create the best learning experience possible, that teacher is differentiating instruction.
Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile:
- Content – what the student needs to learn or how the student will get access to the information;
- Process – activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of or master the content;
- Products – culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and extend what he or she has learned in a unit; and
- Learning environment – the way the classroom works and feels.
Examples of differentiating content at the elementary level include the following:
- Using reading materials at varying readability levels;
- Putting text materials on tape;
- Using spelling or vocabulary lists at readiness levels of students;
- Presenting ideas through both auditory and visual means;
- Using reading buddies; and
- Meeting with small groups to re-teach an idea or skill for struggling learners, or to extend the thinking or skills of advanced learners.
Examples of differentiating process or activities at the elementary level include the following:
- Using tiered activities through which all learners work with the same important understandings and skills, but proceed with different levels of support, challenge, or complexity;
- Providing interest centers that encourage students to explore subsets of the class topic of particular interest to them;
- Developing personal agendas (task lists written by the teacher and containing both in-common work for the whole class and work that addresses individual needs of learners) to be completed either during specified agenda time or as students complete other work early;
- Offering manipulatives or other hands-on supports for students who need them; and
- Varying the length of time a student may take to complete a task in order to provide additional support for a struggling learner or to encourage an advanced learner to pursue a topic in greater depth.
Examples of differentiating products at the elementary level include the following:
- Giving students options of how to express required learning (e.g., create a puppet show, write a letter, or develop a mural with labels);
- Using rubrics that match and extend students’ varied skills levels;
- Allowing students to work alone or in small groups on their products; and
- Encouraging students to create their own product assignments as long as the assignments contain required elements.
Examples of differentiating learning environment at the elementary level include:
- Making sure there are places in the room to work quietly and without distraction, as well as places that invite student collaboration;
- Providing materials that reflect a variety of cultures and home settings;
- Setting out clear guidelines for independent work that matches individual needs;
- Developing routines that allow students to get help when teachers are busy with other students and cannot help them immediately; and
- Helping students understand that some learners need to move around to learn, while others do better sitting quietly (Tomlinson, 1995, 1999; Winebrenner, 1992, 1996).
Liked it? Share it!
Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life. New York: Basic Books.
Danielson, C. (1996). Enhancing Professional Practice: A Framework for Teaching. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ED 403 245.
Sternberg, R. J., Torff, B., & Grigorenko, E. L. (1998). Teaching triarchically improves student achievement. Journal of Educational Psychology, 90(3), 374-384. EJ 576 492.
Tomlinson, C. (1995). How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-ability Classrooms. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ED 386 301.
Tomlinson, C. (1999). The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of all Learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. ED 429 944.
Vygotsky, L. (1986). Thought and Language. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Winebrenner, S. (1992). Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit.
Winebrenner, S. (1996). Teaching kids with Learning Difficulties in the Regular Classroom. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit. ED 396 502.
Excerpted from: Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000). Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education.