The Differentiated Classroom


Designed by Jennifer Legzdin

Introduction Page

This mini-course will assist future and current educators in taking on a more active role during their performance-evaluations. The rationale behind my wiki is to alleviate some of the burden that comes at the end of the year when we are asked to describe our pedagogical practice. Student-centered classrooms emphasize the learners taking control of their learning and moving from a passive to active role. Differentiated instruction allows us to exemplify these activities that give learners center stage.


The goal at the end of this mini-course is for teachers to develop differentiated instructional practices and provide evidence of their pedagogical practice that can be used for their summative evaluations. Differentiated instruction is a way of teaching and an expectation. Differentiated teachers create lessons that reflect their students interests and abilities, allow for student choice and embrace different learning modalities. In one research study evaluating effective teachers, found "studies that have examined the instructional practices of effective teachers have found that they use direct instruction (Pressley, Wharton-McDonald, Allington, Block, & Morrow, 1998), individualized instruction (Zahorik, Halbach, Ehrle, & Molnar, 2003), discovery methods, and hands-on learning (Wenglisky, 2000), among other practices. Effective teachers are adept at using a myriad of instructional strategies" (Covino & Iwanicki, 1996; Langer, 2001; Molnar et al., 1999, as cited in Stronge, Ward and Grant (2011), p 341). Nonetheless,the classroom environment and student backgrounds are also taken into consideration. This mini-course will analyze the differentiated process and understand how each area reflects sections of the Danielson Rubric.

Danielson Rubric

Needs Assessment

Teachers are evaluated by numerous rubrics that affect their overall Annual Professional Performance Review. Many of these domains highlight the expectation that teachers are differentiating their lessons to reflect their understanding of their students.

Teachers will be able to directly relate differentiated concepts/activities to their performance evaluative rubric. Evidence from their classrooms can be utilized in their review at the end of the 2014-2015 school year.

Targeted learners are teachers who are not fully aware of all of the components that are based on differentiation and who are not well-versed in discussing their evaluative tools. This course will require teachers to assess their current classroom environment, student population, lessons and assessments. By identifying the present situation, teachers will begin to establish a starting point for their areas of growth.

Teachers will be able to discuss each component found in the four domains of the Danielson Rubric and how they are highly proficient in each:

1 B Demonstrating knowledge of students (interest & ability)

1 E Designing coherent instruction (tiered activities, identiying different student needs & student choice)

2 A Organizing physical space (our classroom environment matters and involves all senses)

3 C Engaging students in learning (This is the HEART of the Rubric! Student interest, choice and ability)

3 D Using assessment in instruction (Pre-assessments, beyond tests!)

4 A Reflection on teaching

Analysis of the Learner and Context

This mini-course is designed for educators who are currently teaching in a classroom and are evaluated using the APPR Danielson Rubric. However, any teachers that are interested in advantageous and applicable strategies to create, continue or manage differentiated instruction, should continue through this course. Participants are looking for ways to design and maintain an organized and productive learning environment for each individual student. Learners are seeking effective stratgies for gathering data before, during and after learning activities.

How Ready Are you to Implement Differentiated Strategies for the Standards? Y- Yes, I do this! N- No, I need to improve!

1. ____ Know the standards and the students

2. ____ Teach with knowledge, passion, and "with-it-ness"

3. ____ Use assessment data to guide planning for students' diverse needs

4. ____ Give students more control of learning to make the information their own

5. ____ Customize instruction using the most effective resources

6. ____ Establish flexible grouping for engaging intervention

7. ____ Provide choice

8. ____ Strategically plan targeted interventions

9. ____ Plan enriching, problem-solving opportunities

10. ___ Create an optimal learning environment

King, R. & Chapman, C. (2014). Planning and organizing standards-based differentiated instruction. Corwin A Sage Company. p 6

Performance Objectives

Course-level objectives

Participants will be able to

  • connect differentiated practices to all four domains in the APPR rubric.
  • analyze their classroom's environment.
  • implement various pre-assessment strategies.
  • incorporate student-choice activities.
  • define tiering and how this affects class groups.
  • provide evidence of student-choice activities
  • reflect upon pedagogical practice

Course Overview

Pre-requisite: Defining Differentiated Instruction

Unit 1: Classroom Environment

The learner will be able to analyze their own classroom environment based on their established operations, rituals and routines. The learner will be able to describe their physical environment and how the classroom promotes a positive atmosphere. The learner will investigate classroom strategies that they can apply to their own practice.

Unit 2: Assessment Strategies

The learner will be able to create a pre-assessment that they can implement in an upcoming unit.

Unit 3: Tiering and Groups

The learner will define tiered activities that they can apply to an upcoming unit.

Unit 4: Student Choice Activities

The learner will design student choice activities that encourage engagement and participation.

References and Resources

Cornelius-White, J.(2007). Learner-centered teacher-student relationships are effective: A meta-analysis. Review of Education Research, 77, 113-143. doi:10.3102/003465430298563

Gregory, G. & Chapman, C.(2012). Differentiated instructional strategies: One size doesn’t fit all. SAGE Publishers. Retrieved from

Hart, S.(2005). Differentiation and the secondary curriculum: debates and dilemmas. Routledge.Retrieved from

Stronge, J. H., Ward, T. J., & Grant, L. W. (2011). What makes good teachers good?: A cross-case analysis of the connection between teacher effectiveness and student achievement. Journal Of Teacher Education, 62(4), 339-355.

Tomlinson, C.A. (1999). Mapping a route toward differentiated instruction. Educational Leadership. Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development. Retrieved from

Tomlinson, C. A., Brighton, C., Hertberg, H., Callahan, C. M., Moon, T. R., Brimijoin, K., & Reynolds, T. (2003). Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms. A Review of Literature. Journal for the Education of the Gifted, 27, 119-145. Retrieved from