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Differentiating Instruction. ©Adapted from the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Ministry of Education by Dr. D. Gosse, February 2008, Faculty of Education, Nipissing University. CHARACTERISTICS OF DIFFERENTIATED INSTRUCTION. DI. What is differentiated instruction? (TYP)

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Differentiating Instruction

©Adapted from the Literacy and Numeracy Secretariat, Ministry

of Education by Dr. D. Gosse, February 2008,

Faculty of Education, Nipissing University



  • What is differentiated instruction? (TYP)

  • http://www.curriculum.org/secretariat/march29.shtml

  • Video, Ruth Mattingley, 0-1:47

DI allows students to:

Feel affirmed, challenged, and successful whatever their strengths and needs

Advance from their point of entry

Consolidate their thinking & share their ideas

Listen, question, and understand themselves and the world

Quotes on DI: Think –Pair of 3-Share

Key Messages

  • Every child is unique and has different learning needs

  • Differentiating Instruction is one way to meet the needs of all students

  • Teachers can differentiate the learning environment, strategies, and content

Characteristics of

Differentiating Instruction

… differentiation is not really one entity,

but rather synthesizes a number of

educational theories and practices.

What do you count in your “wide repertoire” of strategies for all students to learn, so that when one strategy doesn’t work, you try another?


The whole student

  • How do we get to know the students and their communities?

  • Video, Camille Williams-Taylor, 12:42-17:04

Some traits of the DI classroom

  • Ch. 12, Partnerships with Parents & Community

  • Newsletters (What do they contain?)

  • Website (What do they communicate?)

  • Guest speakers and volunteers (How?)

  • What is the physical layout of the classroom? How is the room set up, including decorations and displays? (Ch. 2 & 4)

  • What are the rules & routines? How do you decide & promote these?

“Well established routines make both teaching and learning easier. An orderly classroom environment with familiar routines maximizes learning opportunities for students.”

A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading, p. 13.8 p. 13.22

What types of rules might you establish? Through what process? How will you make your space inclusive of race/ethnicities, class, gender, sexual orientation, and disability?

Effective Routines

Effective Rules

Wall Displays

‘Wall displays affect the environment in the classroom and send clear signals about what is important…displays of material produced by the teacher and/or students are relevant to students [and] promote inclusiveness…’

A Guide to Effective Instruction in Reading, p. 13.8

Key Messages

  • A positive, respectful, collaborative classroom environment is a powerful support to differentiating instruction.

  • Classroom organization, routines and visible learning supports are key to effective differentiated learning environments.

  • Visual images help to support student and adult learning.


Knowing learners

  • How do we gain knowledge of our students? By what means?

  • Video, Camille Williams-Taylor, 37:22-47:25

Key Messages

  • Start with the Curriculum as a roadmap for instruction. Keep the end in mind!

  • It is critical to know the whole student. Gather powerful data from a variety of sources.

  • Data needs to be organized, analyzed and summarized effectively in order to become useable information that can be referenced for classroom and school planning.

  • Active belief in students’ potential is vital, expressed in praise, encouragement, guided direction, and mentorship.

Curriculum Models

  • Remember that direct teaching to the more avant-garde and activity-based are valuable. This means using a variety of the following approaches:

  • A) transmissional

  • B) transactional

  • C) transformational

If students aren’t learning the way we teach…

Then we need to teach them the way they learn.

Dunn and Dunn


  • Vary learning structures (p. 35-37, Dynamic Classroom & Kagan & Kagan video & handout): Rallyrobin, roundtable, roundrobin, corners, match mine, & drama techniques (tableaux, role play, improvisation, inner & outer circle, etc.)

  • Vary approaches from Transmission, Transactional to Transformational modes of teaching & learning

  • Vary assessment & evaluations

  • Vary questioning techniques (refer to Bloom’s Taxonomy, Wait Time I & II, elaborative interrogation), as well as cooperative learning structures

  • Build on metacognitive teaching and learning strategies in large and small group interaction (representational imagery, elaborative interrogation, acronyms, keyword method, summarizing, concept mapping, teacher behavior, student behavior)

  • Implement principles of the Pygmalion Theory with rich opportunities for responding to the curriculum

Case Study DI

  • Sample methods exam, 2007: http://www.nipissingu.ca/faculty/douglasg/EDUC4315/resources.htm

  • Refer to Case study #4-Differentiated Learning: “The world would be a better place if we were all the same?”

  • There are a series of directed questions. Be prepared to present.

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