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Differentiating Instruction. Sharing Present Practice: Give a Few Ideas, Get a Few Ideas. http://www.raisingsmallsouls.com/. We are all different. We have different gifts in differing proportions. We are interested in different things. We learn in different ways.

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sharing present practice give a few ideas get a few ideas
Sharing Present Practice:

Give a Few Ideas, Get a Few Ideas

we are all different
We are all different.

We have different gifts

in differing proportions. We are interested in different things. We learn in different ways.

teachers differentiate instruction
Teachers Differentiate Instruction…

…to structure learning experiences that capitalize on these differences: to engage different interests, to highlight different gifts, and to honour the many different ways of becoming, and coming to know.

what is differentiated instruction
What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated Instruction is a FRAMEWORK for all instruction.

differentiation the teacher s response to learner needs

Differentiation: The Teacher’s response to LEARNER NEEDS

Respectful Tasks

Flexible Grouping

Ongoing Assessment &


According to a student’s:

Guided by these DI principles:



Learning Profile

Teachers can differentiate:






Adapted by the TDSB from The Differentiated Classroom : Responding to the Needs of All Learnersby C.A. Tomlinson, 1999

students benefit because
Students benefit because…
  • They know we are honouring how they learn, and how they learn differently.
  • We are putting tools and understandings in their hands: they can control their own learning and take responsibility for it themselves.
  • We are connecting them with like-minded and different others to enrich their thoughts and experiences.
  • We see their strengths and help them see the benefits of continuous efforts.
  • We are enabling them to take risks and to be resilient.
students benefit from differentiated instruction because
Students benefit from Differentiated Instruction because…

They see that we care, because we are respecting them for who they really are in the light of all the talents they have, and that we are helping them work actively toward becoming the people they want to be.

what matters to adolescents

What Matters to Adolescents








Teachers’ relationships with students correlate very strongly with students’ achievement.

Knowing them—recognizing their uniqueness—creating experiences that capitalize on their gifts—affirms their worth as individuals.

Knowing that their teachers care about them makes them stay in school and try.



Adolescents need opportunities to share their talents, ideas and thoughts with others:

Opportunities to work with others in partners and small groups

Opportunities to do relevant, original and authentic work



They need to discover or know the reasons why they are doing the tasks of school, so they can take responsibility for their actions and their choices.



Students produce work of significantly better quality when they can make meaningful choices about what they do and how they do it in school.



The work students do must be personally meaningful, and should encourage them to stretch and grow--within the range of the possible.

“Differentiation is classroom practice that looks eyeball to eyeball with the reality that kids differ, and the most effective teachers do whatever it takes to hook the whole range of kids on learning.”

Carol Ann Tomlinson

differentiated instruction tdsb

Differentiated Instruction TDSB

Respectful Tasks

Flexible Grouping

Ongoing Assessment and


According to a student’s:

Differentiated Instructionis a teacher’s response to a learner’s need. In the TDSB approach to Differentiated Instruction priority is placed upon emphasizing the importance of student individuality with respect to culture, race, language, learning needs, life circumstances as well as learning styles.

This is guided by general principles of differentiation such as:



Learning Profile

Teachers can differentiate:






Adapted by the TDSB from The Differentiated Classroom : Responding to the Needs of All Learnersby C.A. Tomlinson, 1999

knowing our students
Knowing Our Students

Differentiated instruction requires that we know our students’

  • readiness
  • interests
  • their learning preferences
  • as they learn new concepts and skills. With this knowledge, we are better able to design and refine instruction and assessment to meet the needs of all learners.
1 differentiating by learner preferences
1. Differentiating by Learner Preferences

A Learner’s profile describes the student’s preferred ways of processing what is to be learned. The profile includes learning styles as well as intelligence and environmental preferences.

learning styles
Learning Styles

Describes how we prefer to acquire, process and remember new


  • Visual
  • Auditory
  • Kinesthetic
  • Combination
intelligence preferences
Intelligence Preferences
  • Based on the multiple intelligences work of Howard Gardner and the triarchic intelligences work of Robert Sternberg (2001).
  • Intelligences are what Gardner calls the formats in which our mind thinks.
multiple intelligences
Multiple Intelligences

Since our students are stronger in some

intelligences than others, it is important to address, when appropriate,

their strongest intelligence when teaching new material.


2. Differentiating by Students’ Readiness

The goal of differentiating by readiness is to foster the GROWTH of the learner.

students readiness
Students’ Readiness

Readiness is different from ability.

Students’ readiness depends on:

  • Their prior knowledge of the topic
  • Their points of connection
  • Their feelings about learning the new material

Provide content and tasks at an appropriate level of challenge for the students’ readiness.



If we only differentiate for readiness, then

students will settle into fixed groupings, which limits students’ growth, keeping them

on one track

within the classroom.


When differentiating for students’ readiness and interests it is important that teachers recognize student individuality with respect to culture, race, language, learning needs and life circumstances.


3. Differentiating for Students’ Interests

The goal of differentiating by learner interest is MOTIVATION and ENGAGEMENT.

students interests
Students’ Interests
  • Capitalizing on students’ interests ignites their motivation to learn.
  • Tasks and topics become relevant when they connect to something the student knows and cares about.
  • When new ideas are personally relevant, students are engaged, and meaningful learning happens.


brain research
Brain Research…

Current research on the brain suggests

that we learn best when we are

engaged in meaningful classroom learning

experiences that help us discover and develop our strengths and talents.


Differentiating by Interest: Your Choice of Readings

  • Choose one of these readings: “Teaching Beyond the Book”
  • “The Silver Cup of Differentiated Instruction”
  • “Radically Redefining Literacy Instruction”
  • “Multiple Intelligences Meets Blooms’ Taxonomy”
  • “Help Us Care Enough to Learn”
  • “If Only They’d Do Their Homework”
  • “Promoting Respectful Learning” (math)
differentiating curriculum the content
Differentiating Curriculum: The Content

The same for all students: the overall expectations (the Big Ideas) that students are demonstrating

How they access the content can differ:

  • Different levels of text, same topic/content
  • Different text forms (print), same content
  • Different text forms (media), same content

What they access can differ:

  • Different content/topics
  • Different points of view, same content
differentiating curriculum the process
Differentiating Curriculum: The Process

The same: they all process the content/acquire understanding

What may differ: how they process the content

  • Individually, or in a group, at various stages
  • How they do research (read, interview)
  • Tiered questions/activities
  • Pacing and time required
  • Process according to preferred intelligence
differentiating curriculum the product
Differentiating Curriculum: The Product

The same: they all demonstrate understanding of the same overall expectations and Big Ideas

What may differ: how they demonstrate understanding:

  • Individual or group effort
  • The text form
  • Complexity/simplicity of the understanding
  • Modality/means of presentation
  • Form of intelligence used to demonstrate
grasp goal role audience scenario product
GRASP(Goal, Role, Audience, Scenario, Product)

A GRASP task is…

…one which engages students in creative and meaningful tasks

…a way to encourage students to:

  • assume a role
  • consider their audience
  • examine a topic from a relevant perspective
  • present a product in different form

…a chance for students to explore content from new perspectives, thereby deepening their understanding

sample grasp task for gr 9 chemistry
Sample Grasp Task for Gr 9 Chemistry:
  • Goal: To understand the pros and cons between the use of copper wiring in electrical circuits versus aluminum wiring
  • Role: Representative from Electrical Contractors Association
  • Audience: Realtors of first time home buyers in the GTA
  • Scenario: the resale of homes built in the decade of 1970 is now reaching its peak. The ECA representative sends out a message of caution about homes built in the era. An emphasis is placed on the use of aluminum wiring in homes built in the time frame.
  • Product: A letter of caution that will outline the following:
      • historical reasoning for Al wire
      • Pros and cons to Al wiring in houses compared to Copper wiring
      • Cost benefit analysis of the conversion to copper wiring.
choice boards
Choice Boards
  • To activate multiple intelligences
knowing our students establishing and maintaining relationships assessment
Knowing our Students: Establishing and Maintainingrelationships (assessment)

(finding out) (keeping track & checking-up (making sure)


Graphing Me







Conference Exit Card

Peer evaluation Portfolio Check

3-minute pause Observation

Journal Entry Journal prompt

Self-evaluation Questioning


Unit Test

Performance Task



Portfolio Review

the teacher s attitude can make all the difference
The teacher’s attitude can make all the difference….

Teachers who showed the greatest ability to move toward differentiated classrooms were inquirers about students and saw school as an organic enterprise in which disequilibrium or disturbance was a catalyst for growth

Carol Ann Tomlinson

what differentiated instruction is not
What Differentiated Instruction is NOT
  • treating everyone equally
  • having high expectations for some, and lesser expectations for others
  • individualizing for every student
  • accelerating some, leaving others behind
  • giving those who’ve mastered it more of the same
the difference that teachers make
The Difference that Teachers Make

Teachers that differentiate instruction

move away from seeing themselves

as keepers and dispensers of knowledge


move towards seeing themselves as

“organizers of learning opportunities” that allow students to construct understanding themselves.

Carol Ann Tomlinson

Checking in with you…

Complete this statement, matching your experience to one of the following photos:

The way I see Differentiated Instruction right now….

Change produces uncertainty and feelings of incompetence --- uncertainty because we’re caused to deal with the unfamiliar, incompetence because we don’t know how to do what we’ve never done before.

In the face of fear and feelings of incompetence, people seek security --- and the greatest security they know is found in the status quo. They therefore look for every reason they can find to justify their preference for the old and their resistance to the new.

Phil Schlecty


It’s about helping all students succeed

…one student at a time.

Whatever it takes.