George Lucas Educational Foundation
Illustration showing a computer and various icons connected to games and gameplay.

Differentiating Classroom Instruction

Dig into differentiation with a collection of posts on student engagement, common problems that differentiation can help solve, and assessment.

Differentiation—tailoring instruction and/or assessment to meet individual students’ needs—can seem daunting. Does it require multiple lesson plans for the same material, creating more work for the teacher? Does it create problems in classroom management?

John McCarthy is an educational consultant, author of So All Can Learn: A Practical Guide to Differentiation, and former classroom teacher who has spent years showing teachers how they already intuitively differentiate—by providing choice in assignments, for example—and coaching them in how to go further toward taking their various students’ needs and gifts into account when planning lessons and assessing progress.

In these three posts, McCarthy shares ideas on how to differentiate and build engagement by bringing elements of games into your curriculum; how differentiation can help you deal with large classes or a large number of students throughout the day, and with lack of time; and how you can ensure that your assessments give you the accurate data about your students that will enable you to differentiate instruction.

    1. Illustration showing a computer and various icons connected to games and gameplay.
      Game-Based Learning

      Gamifying Your Class to Meet the Needs of All Learners

      Introduce game dynamics like leveling up and earning badges into your classroom to boost student engagement.
    2. Photo of a large class at work.
      Differentiated Instruction

      Too Many Students and Not Enough Time

      Differentiation provides ways to cope with large workloads and with the feeling that there’s never enough time.
    3. A student stands in the middle of a fog-shrouded road.
      Formative Assessment

      Eliminate Assessment Fog

      To get a clear picture of student achievement from assessments, don’t give or take away points for things that aren’t related to the core content.
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