Unit 3: Useful Strategies for Differentiating Instruction


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Upon completion of this unit, participants will be able to

  • Identify strategies for differentiating instruction.
  • Create a lesson or activity to be used in their classroom that incorporates differentiated instruction while also considering the theory of multiple intelligences.
  • Discuss their specific classroom goals for differentiated instruction.

Strategies for Differentiating Instruction in the Classroom

The final activity of this mini course will be for you to create a lesson or activity that incorporates the ideas of differentiated instruction that you will carry out in your classroom. However, before you begin brainstorming ideas, it is important that we remember what differentiated instruction is and what it is not.

  • Differentiated instruction is based on the belief that everyone learns differently.
  • Teachers should strive to meet the educational needs of their students.
  • Differentiated Instruction does NOT mean separating the "smarter" students from the "weaker" students.
  • Differentiated instruction goes beyond giving students choices.

Consider the subject area and content that you teach in your classroom. Do you already use strategies to differentiate instruction? When trying to brainstorm ideas and activities to further differentiate instruction consider the following -

                          CONTENT - What are you teaching?
                          PROCESS- How are you teaching?
                          PRODUCT- How will student learning be assessed?

You can differentiate instruction according to student interest, readiness and learning abilities.

Differentiated instruction can take many forms - some more complex than others. Read over the following list of examples, for some strategies examples are given or there are links to websites that further explain the activity. Do you already use any of these strategies in your classroom?

  • Tiered Lessons - Provide teachers with a way of assigning different tasks within the same lesson or unit.
  • Reading Buddies - The teacher can partner students in a variety of ways to enhance learning.
  • Flexible Grouping - An opportunity for students to work with a variety of their peers.
  • Think-Pair-Share - Why Use Think-Pair-Share?
  • Anchor Activities - Ongoing assignments that students can work on independently throughout a unit - these activities can be personalized to meet the needs of students.
  • Multiple Intelligence Options - A great resourcefor ideas and understanding multiple intelligences better.
  • K-W-L Charts - Stands for Know, Want to Know, Learned - Used to better understand the needs and wants of students as well as what they learned at the end of a lesson or unit.
  • Exit Tickets - Formative assessments used to gather information about student learning.
  • Student Interest Surveys - Surveys can be used at all ages to learn more about students. Joni Turville provides multiple examples in her book, Differentiating by Student Interest(see p. 11)
  • Multiple Texts - Give students the ability to read at their level or understanding, or challenge themselves with something more difficult.
  • Multiple Levels of Questioning - A valuable resourcefor understanding and using Bloom's Taxonomy.

To get some more ideas for how to differentiate instruction in your classroom, watch the following videos -

Differentiating Instruction Part I

Differentiated Instruction Part II

Set a Goal for Yourself in your Classroom

Additional Information

Making a Difference; Carol Ann Tomlinson Explains How Differentiated Instruction Works and Why We Need it Now.

Six Strategies for Differentiated Instruction in Project Based Learning

Culturally Responsive Differentiated Instructional Strategies

One Size Doesn't Fit All