Honoring cognitive diversity by differentiating instruction
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Honoring Cognitive Diversity by Differentiating Instruction. PHILIPPE ERNEWEIN WWW.REMEMBERIT.ORG OCTOBER 29, 2012. Think/Pair/Share. Please think for a minute and select two students that you teach or have taught who don’t or didn’t fare so well in school.

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Honoring Cognitive Diversity by Differentiating Instruction

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Honoring Cognitive Diversity by Differentiating Instruction



OCTOBER 29, 2012


  • Please think for a minute and select two students that you teach or have taught who don’t or didn’t fare so well in school.

  • Tell a colleague who the students are (pseudonyms are fine) – and perhaps why they didn’t flourish in school.

Making sure we are on the same page:

  • Differentiated Instruction applies an approach to teaching and learning so that students have multiple options to take in information and make sense of ideas.

  • Because we know students:

    • Learn at different rates

    • Need different degrees of difficulty

    • Have different interests

    • Learn in different ways

    • And need different support systems

At the Core of Differentiated Instruction…

Think back to your student…

  • Can you identify his/her readiness level, interests and learning profile?

  • How could you find out during a lesson, during a day or during a week?

Tiered Approach: definition

An instructional approach designed to have students of differing readiness levels work with essential knowledge, understanding, and skill, but to do so at levels of difficulty appropriately challenging for them as individuals at a given point in the instructional cycle.

Tiered Approach: critical elements

  • Clearly establish what students should know, understand and be able to do

  • Share a clear target with the students

  • Think about readiness levels: pre-assessment/on-going

  • Develop enough versions of original task/product to challenge a range of learner

  • “The Equalizer”

PACE Project Steps


-Diagnostic learning profile, learning modalities,

personality inventory, MI survey, formative

assessment, exit slips.


-Dedicate classroom workshop time, offer examples,

conduct conferences, environmental structure.


-Create on-going opportunities for students to share

process and final products.

Math & Science Projects

  • Stairs Project: slope, equation of a line

  • Cookie Project: multi-step equations, point of equilibrium, TOV

  • Postcard Project: estimating profit, price-setting, supply & demand, equations

  • Mural Project: scale, ratios, proportions

Medium Prep: RAFT Activities

  • Acronym: Role, Audience, Format & Topic

  • Students take on a particular role, develop a product for a specified audience in a particular format and on a topic that gets right at the heart of what matters most in a particular lesson.

RAFT: examples

  • Role: Student Reporter at Copenhagen Summit

  • Audience: Congress

  • Format: Email

  • Topic: Climate Change

  • Role: Polar Bear

  • Audience: Congress

  • Format: Twitter

  • Topic: Climate Change

Low Prep Action Steps

  • Activate and build background

  • Pre-teach vocabulary

  • Include words and visuals in your lessons

  • Most students are not auditory, so write down what you say.

  • Provide a graphic organizer and/or guided notes whenever possible

Low Prep Action Steps

  • Offer students time and tools to process ideas (every 7-15 minutes)

  • Integrate a way for students to express themselves other than writing (draw, teach, give analogy, etc)

  • Give directions in manageable chunks

Workshop: collaboration & application

  • What might a PACE Project (or medium or low prep action) look like in your classroom?

    • During a lesson, unit or course?

What’s on your checklist?


  • Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson

  • Winning Strategies for Classroom Management by Carol Cummings

  • PowerPoint and related hand-outs available at www.rememberit.org

The Cogs of Differentiation

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