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Differentiated Instruction. David W. Dillard. Objectives. Based on the information provided today, teachers will be able: To define differentiated instruction (evaluation) Implement differentiated instruction by overcoming obstacles and/or identifying current practices (evaluation)

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Differentiated instruction l.jpg

Differentiated Instruction

David W. Dillard

Objectives l.jpg

  • Based on the information provided today, teachers will be able:

  • To define differentiated instruction (evaluation)

  • Implement differentiated instruction by overcoming obstacles and/or identifying current practices (evaluation)

  • List three strategies they have used or might use in their classroom (evaluation)

  • Find information and additional resources (provided in handout)

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Definition I

  • Differentiated instruction is a process through which teachers enhance learning by matching student characteristics to instruction and assessment. Differentiated instruction allows all students to access the same classroom curriculum by providing entry points, learning tasks, and outcomes that are tailored to the students’ needs.

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Definition II

  • In differentiated classrooms, teachers begin where students are, not the front of a curriculum guide. They accept and build upon the premise that learners differ in important ways. Thus, they also accept and act on the premise that teachers must be ready to engage students in instruction through different learning modalities by appealing to differing interests, and by using varied rates of instruction along with varied degrees of complexity. (Carol Ann Tomlinson)

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Definition III

  • In differentiated classrooms, teachers provide specific ways for each individual to learn as deeply as possible and as quickly as possible, without assuming one student's road map for learning is identical to anyone else's. These teachers believe that students should be held to high standards. They work to ensure that struggling, advanced, and in-between students think and work harder than they meant to; achieve more than they thought they could; and come to believe that learning involves effort, risk, and personal triumph.

  • (Carol Ann Tomlinson)

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Differentiated instructionFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • Differentiated instruction (sometimes referred to as differentiated learning) is a way of thinking about teaching and learning. It means using a variety of instructional strategies that address diverse student learning needs. It places students at the center of teaching and learning and student needs drive instructional planning. Differentiated instruction is a way to enhance learning for all students by engaging them in activities that respond to particular learning needs, strengths, and preferences.

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Differentiated instructionFrom Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

  • The goals of differentiated instruction are to develop challenging and engaging tasks for each learner (from low-end learner to high-end learner). Instructional activities are flexible and based and evaluated on content, process and product. Teachers respond to students’ readiness, instructional needs, interests and learning preferences and provide opportunities for students to work in varied instructional formats. In a nutshell, a classroom that utilizes differentiated instruction is a learner-responsive, teacher-facilitated classroom where all students have the opportunity to meet curriculum foundational objectives. Lessons should be on inquiry based, problem based and project based instruction.

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Carol Tomlinson, professor at the University of Virginia, identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Content:   What the student needs to learn. The instructional concepts should be broad based, and all students should be given access to the same core content. However, the content’s complexity should be adapted to students’ learner profiles. Teachers can vary the presentation of content,( i.e., textbooks, lecture, demonstrations, taped texts) to best meet students’ needs.

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Carol Tomlinson, professor at the University of Virginia, identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Process:   Activities in which the student engages to make sense of or master the content. Examples of differentiating process activities include scaffolding, flexible grouping, interest centers, manipulatives, varying the length of time for a student to master content, and encouraging an advanced learner to pursue a topic in greater depth.

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Carol Tomlinson, professor at the University of Virginia, identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Products: The culminating projects that ask students to apply and extend what they have learned. Products should provide students with different ways to demonstrate their knowledge as well as various levels of difficulty, group or individual work, and various means of scoring.

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Carol Tomlinson, professor at the University of Virginia, identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Learning Environment: The way the classroom works and feels. The differentiated classroom should include areas in which students can work quietly as well as collaborate with others, materials that reflect diverse cultures, and routines that allow students to get help when the teacher isn’t available (Tomlinson, 1995, 1999; Winebrenner, 1992, 1996).

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DESE – MSIP identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:pt. I


    • 7.1 Comprehensive services for all resident children with disabilities, as required by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) and Chapter 162, RSMo, are an integral component of the district’s educational program.

    • 1. The district has policies and procedures in place to ensure provision of effective special education services to children (ages 3-21) and their parents in accordance with state and federal regulations.

    • 2. All students with disabilities have access to the general curriculum, participate in regular education settings with nondisabled peers, and demonstrate progress in the general curriculum.

    • 3. The district ensures that all students with disabilities receive appropriate supports, services, and modifications (including related services, assistive technology, and positive behavioral interventions) to address their individual needs.

    • 4. The district implements programs which result in improved opportunities for post-secondary education and employment for students with disabilities.

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DESE -- MSIP identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:pt. II

  • 6.3 The district has implemented effective instructional programs designed to meet the assessed needs of its students, as well as the practices and procedures needed to support these programs.

  • 1. Classroom strategies that accommodate students’ individual learning needs are implemented.

  • 2. A balanced, research-based reading program is in place for grades K-3.

  • 3. The district consistently provides access to extended learning time and alternative instructional delivery systems for all students.

  • 4. The district identifies and provides targeted instruction or other needed services/interventions for educationally-disadvantaged, ESOL, migrant, and homeless students, as well as students who may, for other reasons, be at risk of leaving school without completing high school.

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Obstacles identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • I Long to return to the Good Old Days

  • I thought I was differentiating

  • I teach the way I was taught

  • I don’t know how

  • I have too much content to cover

  • I’m good at lecturing

  • I can’t see how I would grade all those different assignments

    Kathie F. Nunley, Differentiating in the High School, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.

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Obstacles identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • I thought differentiation was for the elementary school

  • I subscribe to ability grouping

  • I have real logistic issues

  • I want my classroom under control

  • I don’t know how to measure my student’s learning styles

  • I have neither the time nor the funding for all that

    Kathie F. Nunley, Differentiating in the High School, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.

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Obstacles identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • I’ve been teaching this way for years and it works

  • There’s no support for it at my school

  • My district requires me to follow a prescribed text

  • Parents expect lecture format in high school for college prep

  • The bottom line – if they are learning, you are teaching

    Kathie F. Nunley, Differentiating in the High School, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.

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Response to: identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Student readiness

  • Student interests

  • Student learning style

  • Multiple intelligences

  • Success for all students

  • What is practical and what is doable

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CRIME identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Curriculum: content, difficulty, standards

  • Rules: explicit, implicit, written

  • Instruction: teaching style, individual & group work pace, teacher & student directed

  • Materials: textbooks, trade books, tests, homework, equipment, supplies

  • Environment: furniture, seating, space, doors, windows, barriers

    Mary Anne Prater, “She Will Succeed!: Strategies for success in Inclusive Classrooms, Council for Exceptional Children

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SHE WILL SUCCEED identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

Mary Anne Prater, Council for Exceptional Children

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Key Guidelines for Differentiation identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • All of you are already doing some differentiation

  • Take small steps to implement

  • Clarify key concepts and generalizations: note taking is critical

  • Use assessment as a teaching tool to extend rather than merely measure instruction

  • Emphasize critical and creative thinking as a goal in lesson design

  • Engaging all learners is essential

  • Provide a balance between teacher-assigned and student-selected tasks

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Strategies identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:




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Assessment identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Informal and formative as opposed to summative

  • Classroom assessment is ongoing through personal communications:

    • Questioning: try to question all students – level the question to ability and aim at higher order thinking

    • Observation: move around the room, have a room chart and make notes

    • Observation II (class management): you should know when you have lost “them”

    • Discussion: with the whole class, group, or individual

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Classroom Assessments identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • You have their attention – (They have a pulse)

  • One-minute paper (what did the students lean)

  • Note-check – teacher and or peer

  • Three (???) questions you still have or would like clarified (collect and answer the next day)

  • The Muddiest Point

  • One-sentence Summary

  • What’s the Principle/Process

  • Clickers -- eLearning

  • Questioning

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Classroom Assessments identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Use a seating chart to log questions/responses

    • Can be as easy as +/-

    • Can be used for behavior/attention

  • Have students keep a response sheet to questions and collect/check at the end of the lesson/day

  • Clickers/eLearning automated responses

  • Thumbs up – thumbs down response to questions

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Questioning I identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Remember wait time

  • Provide at least three seconds of thinking time after a question and after a response

  • Utilize "think-pair-share"

  • Allow individual thinking time, discussion with a partner, and then open up the class discussion

  • Ask "follow-ups" (Why? Do you agree? Can you elaborate?)

  • Tell me more. Can you give an example?

  • Withhold judgment

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Questioning II identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Respond to student answers in a nonevaluative fashion

  • Ask for summary (to promote active listening) "Could you please summarize John's point?"

  • Survey the class "How many people agree with the author's point of view?" ("thumbs up, thumbs down")

  • Allow for student calling "Richard, will you please call on someone else to respond?"

  • Play devil's advocate

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Questioning III identifies four classroom elements that can be differentiated:

  • Require students to defend their reasoning against different points of view

  • Ask students to "unpack their thinking"

  • "Describe how you arrived at your answer." ("think aloud")

  • Call on students randomly. Not just those with raised hands

  • Student questioning. Let the students develop their own questions.

  • Cue student responses. "There is not a single correct answer for this question. I want you to consider alternatives."

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Do you really know what students are learning, writing down, understanding?


Cornell Notes

Lit Circle


Inference Notes

Cluster Notes

Hierarchical Notes


Timeline Notes

Venn Diagrams

Conversational Roundtable

Episodic Notes

Spreadsheet Notes

This is a skill that must be taught, use different organizers with a specific purpose in mind

Check what students create

Graphic Organizers & Note Taking

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Lit Circle Notes down, understanding?

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Inference Notes down, understanding?

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Q-Notes down, understanding?

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Cornell Notes down, understanding?

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Tiered Assignments down, understanding?

  • Designed to provide different levels of complexity, abstractness, and open-endedness. The curricular content and objective(s) are the same, but the process and/or product are varied according to the student’s level of readiness

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Interest Centers or Interest Groups down, understanding?

  • Interest centers are set up so that learning experiences are directed toward a specific learner interest. Allowing students to choose a topic can be motivating to them. The teacher may select a variety of topics or areas that students or groups can select.

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Flexible Grouping down, understanding?

  • Students work as part of many different groups depending on the task and/or content.

  • Groups assigned:

    • Readiness

    • Assigned by teacher

    • Randomly

    • Chosen by students

  • Allows students to work with a wide variety of peers and keeps them from being labeled

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Learning Contracts down, understanding?

  • An agreement between the student and the teacher (they may or may not be written, but written often works better)

  • Teacher specifies the necessary skills

  • Student identifies the methods for completing the task (there may or may not be debate on establishing and there may or may not be amendments)

  • Allows students to:

    • Work at an appropriate pace

    • Target their learning style

    • Helps students work independently

  • This is an excellent way for students to understand what is EXPECTED of them.

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Choice Boards down, understanding?

  • Organizers that contain a variety of activities

  • Students choose activities to complete as they learn a skill or develop a product

  • These may contain small groups, pairs, or individual assignments

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies I down, understanding?

  • Anchor Activities: are on-going assignments tied to the curriculum and for which students are accountable that can be worked on independently throughout a grading period or longer.

  • Allowing for multiple right answers: are open-ended assignments that focus on the process of solving the problem and/or critical thinking.

  • Adjusting questions:In class discussions, tests, and homework, teachers adjust the sorts of questions posed to learners based on their readiness, interests, and learning profiles.

  • Agendas: These are personalized lists of tasks that a student must complete in a specified time, usually two to three weeks. Student agendas throughout a class will have similar and dissimilar elements. The agendas can be personalized (e.g., include IEP tasks, more challenging work) for individual students, if needed. Students work individually (or in small groups) to complete the agenda tasks.

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies II down, understanding?

  • 4MAT: Teachers who use 4MAT plan instruction for each of four learning preferences over the course of several days on a given topic. Thus, some lessons focus on mastery, some on understanding, some on personal involvement, and some on synthesis. Each learner has a chance to approach the topic through preferred modes and also strengthen weaker areas.

  • Attention to social issues, real world experiences, and community projects: are performance assessment tasks, role-plays, simulations, etc. based on authentic situations of interest to students.

  • Centers: are flexible areas in the classroom that address variable learning needs. Centers differ from stations in that centers are distinct. Stations work in concert with one another. Two kinds of centers are particularly useful for differentiated instruction: learning centers and interest centers.

  • Chunking: is breaking assignments and activities into smaller, more manageable parts and providing more structured directions for each part.

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies III down, understanding?

  • Compacting: is a process that involves pre-assessing students, giving them credit for what they already know and allowing them to move ahead in the curriculum. Compressing the required curriculum into a shorter period of time so students who master it ahead of their classmates can use the time they "buy back" for other activities.

  • Emphasis on Thinking skills: giving students the opportunity to think aloud, discuss their thinking with their peers, and reflect on their thinking in journals.Developing student responsibility: giving the students opportunity to help develop the evaluation rubrics, write project proposals, and complete self and group evaluations.Flexible grouping: matching students to skill work by virtue of readiness, not with the assumption that all need the same task, computation skill, writing assignment, etc. Movement among groups is common, based on readiness on a given skill and growth in that skill.Flexible pacing: allowing for differences in the students' ability to master the curricula.

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies IV down, understanding?

  • Goal setting and planning: involving students in their individual goal setting and the planning of learning activities, one to one with the teacher.Group investigation: working in cooperative mixed-ability groups on open-ended tasks or in like-ability groups working on appropriately challenging tasks. Usually the focus is on the process and thinking skills.Hands-on projects/activities: using manipulative to motivate instructions.High-level questions: questioning that draw on advanced levels of information, requiring leaps of understanding and challenging thinking.Independent study: providing students with the opportunity to work independently to investigate topics of interest to them.

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies V down, understanding?

  • Interdisciplinary/integrated curricula around a theme: thematic units, which make connections across multiple curricular areas.Interest centers: are designed to motivate students' exploration of topics for which they have a particular interest.Learning centers: are classroom areas that contain a collection of activities or materials designed to teach, reinforce, or extend a particular skill or concept.Learning contract: is a proposal made prior to beginning a project or unit in which the resources, steps toward completion, and evaluation criteria are agreed upon with the teacher.Portfolios: provide a means for helping teachers and parents reflect on student growth over time. These are collections of student work are excellent for helping children set appropriate learning goals and evaluating their own growth.

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Differentiated Instructional Strategies VI down, understanding?

  • Problem-Based learning: placing students in the active role of solving problems in much the same way adult professionals perform their jobs. The teacher presents students with an unclear, complex problem. Students must seek additional information, define the problem, locate resources, make decisions about solutions, pose solution, communicate that solution to others, and assess the solution's effectiveness.Stations: are different spots in the classroom where students work on various tasks simultaneously. Stations work in concert with one another. Stations allow different students to work with different tasks. They invite flexible grouping because not all students need to go to all stations all the time or spend the same amount of time in each station.This page was created by Michael Szesze, Program Supervisor for Science.http://www.mcps.k12.md.us/curriculum/science/instr/differstrategies.htm

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Websites down, understanding?

  • http://faculty.rmwc.edu/mentor_grant/Differentiated/differentiated_instruction.htm

  • http://www.weac.org/kids/1998-99/march99/differ2.htm

  • http://pdonline.ascd.org/pd_online/diffinstr/el199909_tomlinson.html

  • http://www.sresd.k12.mi.us/pages/resources/differentInstr.htm

  • http://www.njpep.org/pd/learning/differentiated_learning.html

  • Note taking: http://www.englishcompanion.com/Tools/notemaking.html

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