In this collection of tools and advice from Edutopia and the web, find resources to help you adjust instruction in response to diverse learner needs and interests.
Originally Published: August 25, 2014 | Updated: September 12, 2016
Understanding Differentiated Instruction
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Planning and Implementation Ideas
- Levels of Understanding: Learning That Fits All: Learn how to develop a framework to support creating homework or practice to meet the needs of all learners. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Making Failure Harder Work Than Passing: Discover how one chemistry teacher uses incremental learning goals, formative assessments, and differentiation to inspire students to work hard and reach their potential. (Edutopia, 2015)
- 5 More Ways to "Remove the Walls" From Your Classroom: Explore five ways to rearrange students across the usual groupings and grade levels while differentiating, hitting the standards, ensuring proficiency, and boosting engagement. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Students Matter: 3 Steps for Effective Differentiated Instruction: Check out three strategies for differentiated instruction: knowing students' strengths, involving them in planning, and leveraging the strengths of fellow educators. (Edutopia, 2014)
- 3 Ways to Plan for Diverse Learners: What Teachers Do: To differentiate learning in the classroom, focus on content, process, and product. For more planning tips, also see 15+ Readiness Resources for Driving Student Success, which provides resources to help teachers meet the readiness needs of all students. (Edutopia, 2014)
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Knowing and Assessing Students
- Make Learning Last: How Diverse Learners Can Process Their Understanding: Find out how quick reflections, surveys, and diverse-perspective assessments can help students to process more deeply and check their own understanding. (Edutopia, 2016)
- How Learning Profiles Can Strengthen Your Teaching: Explore ways that collecting data about learners can inform differentiation. (Edutopia, 2014)
- 3 Guidelines to Eliminating Assessment Fog: Break through assessment fog by identifying and communicating clear learning targets, separating logistical guidelines (like following directions) from academic learning targets, and providing students with different ways to demonstrate their learning. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Dipsticks: Efficient Ways to Check for Understanding: Within this primer to formative assessment, you'll find a printable list of 53 ways to check for student understanding. For more ideas, you might also want to check out David Wees’ community post with 56 Examples of Formative Assessment and Edutopia’s formative assessment page. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Tools for Teaching: Ditching the Deficit Model: Read about how to gain knowledge of students' strengths, interests, and hidden talents in order to best determine out how to meet their needs. (Edutopia, 2013)
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Teaching Diverse Learners
- Equity vs. Equality: 6 Steps Toward Equity: Explore seven steps toward classroom equity: knowing every child, celebrating their potential, recognizing their challenges, becoming flexible, acknowledging inequity, and using culture as a resource. (Edutopia, 2016)
- Serving Gifted Students in General Ed Classrooms: Consider do's and don'ts for meeting the needs of gifted students. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Bridging the ADHD Gap: To support the needs of children with ADHD, make the learning child-centered, differentiate, integrate movement and mindfulness, create supportive learning environments, and document the process. (Edutopia, 2015)
- Integrating ELL Students in General Education Classes: Learn about differentiated-instruction and formative-assessment strategies that can help general-education teachers of English-Language Learners (ELLs).
- The Power of Introverts: An Essential Understanding for Teachers: Understand the characteristics of an introvert to better serve shy and quiet students. (Edutopia, 2013)
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Differentiating With Technology
- Integrating Technology and Literacy: Explore digital tools for text and video annotations, teacher feedback, and formative assessment. (Edutopia, 2016)
- 100+ Tools for Differentiating Instruction Through Social Media: Find out how social media can enhance differentiated instruction if the tools are selected with a careful eye on individual students' readiness, interests, and learning profiles. (Edutopia, Updated 2016)
- Mixing it Up With Mangahigh: Using Games to Differentiate Instruction: Learn how one teachers uses the online math game site Mangahigh to better differentiate instruction. (Edutopia, 2014)
- Enhancing Learning Through Differentiated Technology: Discover three tech tools -- SAS Curriculum Pathways, Newsela, and EDpuzzle -- that can help differentiate instruction by showing where students are and offering appropriate formative assessment. (Edutopia, 2015)
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Differentiation in Project-Based Learning
- Tools for Differentiating Instruction in PBL: Differentiate the content, process, and product of your PBL lessons with tools and practices like Learning Profile Cards, narrative feedback, and design thinking. (Edutopia, 2016)
- 6 Strategies for Differentiated Instruction in Project-Based Learning: Learn about six simple, effective approaches to differentiated instruction in project-based learning. (Edutopia, Updated 2016)
- How Does PBL Support Differentiated Instruction?: Understand how PBL can be designed and managed to factor in students' readiness, interests, and learning profiles. (Buck Institute for Education, 2012)
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Examples and Downloads From Schools That Work
Edutopia's flagship series highlights practices and case studies from K-12 schools and districts that are improving the way students learn. Below, find downloads used by practitioners at featured schools, and dive into real-world examples of differentiated instruction.
Small Group Work With "I Choose"
When teachers began asking for time to work with students in small groups, Humboldt Elementary in Dewey-Humboldt, Arizona found the time, adjusted the schedule, and empowered students by mixing scaffolded supports with a variety of student-friendly elective enrichments. Watch the video, and download sample exit tickets used by teachers:
- Sample Student Exit Tickets -- Download sample exit tickets that Humboldt teachers use as a quick check for comprehension of that day's lesson; these tickets let teachers know who might need additional help in a small group setting.
Academic Success for All Students: A Multi-Tiered Approach
At P.K. Yonge Developmental Research School in Gainesville, Florida, Multi-Tiered System of Supports (MTSS) enables teachers to differentiate and provide each student the right level of instruction to succeed. Learn more, and check out one of this school's tools:
Reteach and Enrich: Make Time for Every Student
See step-by-step how Mesquite Elementary School in Tucson, Arizona gives its students the additional time they need to master core concepts and elevate their learning to the next level.
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How do you approach differentiated instruction in your classroom? Share tools, resources, experiences, or advice in the comments.