The Differentiated Classroom

Learning That Makes a Meaningful Impact


Shana Allen

EDU 673 Instructional Strategies for Differentiated Teaching and Learning

Dr. Cynthia Martinek

May 9, 2016

What is differentiation?

In order for all student in class to succeed, it is essential that instruction meaningful to all learners. Tailoring learning to meet the individual learning styles, ability, interest, and ensures that all students are successful. According to the text, differentiation is allowing students the opportunity to intake information in different ways (Puckett, 2013). Differentiation can be done through content, process, product, and learning environment (Puckett, 2013).

Positive Learning Environment

Students will be engaged in the learning process by providing them with a positive learning environment. Creating an inviting and engaging learning environment is also a key component in differentiating instruction. Successful learning takes place when students feel apart of the classroom community. They understand that learning takes place through collaboration and risk taking (Tomlinson, 2000). Teachers also state clear expectations for learning targets, and establish rules and procedures. In addition, it is a warm and inviting environment where all stakeholders feel as if learning is accessible to all (Puckett, 2013). Some example activities could include: turn and talks, leveled and tiered assignments, station rotations, using rubrics, and establishing rules and procedures as a class.

Social & Emotional Needs

In order to support the social and emotional needs of students, instruction should reflect student interest, learning styles, and ability. These practices will meet the needs of diverse learners, and promote an environment where everyone is expected to learn. This will be done through various types of activities like:

  • Interest Surveys
  • Building Background and Schema
  • Think Pair Share
  • Turn and Talk
  • Partner work and Collaboration
  • Check for understanding
  • Goal Setting
  • Parking Lots
  • Leveled and tiered assignments
  • Graphic Organizers
  • Manipulatives

Example Choice Board

Big image

Opportunities For Success

Scaffolding resources and instructional strategies are essential to promoting success. This can be done through tiered assignments, leveled resources, and flexible grouping (Hackett & Hasty, 2012). These task will provide an opportunity for all learners to explore concepts on various levels. For instance: in the sample below provided by Hackett & Hasty students take a learned topic and apply it in different ways to show their understanding.

Sample 4th grade Tiered assignment (Hackett & Hasty, 2012)

Example 3: Global Warming Grade 4 Background: After whole group class reading of a current events issue in the Time for Kids magazine such as global warming, students complete a related activity differentiated by complexity. (Shown below)

Tier one: (Struggling students) Students are asked to write a public service announcement using jingles, slogans, or art to convey why global warming is a problem and what people can do to prevent it.

Tier two: (On grade level) Students conduct a survey of peer awareness and understanding of global warming. They design a limited number of questions and decide how to report their results such as with charts or in a newscast.

Tier three: (Advanced) Students debate the issue about the seriousness of global warming, each side expressing a different viewpoint. They must provide credible evidence to support their opinions and arguments.


Using data to drive instruction helps to plan successful instructional plans and analyze student understanding. Assessment is ongoing where the teacher uses data to facilitate learning (Chapman & King, 2012). Using a variety a assessment strategies will aid in students achievement. Students will be assessed through the following types of assessment:

  1. Standardized test
  2. Projects
  3. Performance tack
  4. Reflection
  5. Quick checks
  6. Anecdotal notes
  7. Rubrics
  8. Checklist


Puckett, K (2013). Differentiating Instruction: A Practical Guide. Bridgepoint Education: San Diego, CA.

Chapman, C., & King, R. (n.d.). Differentiated strategies for assessment. Retrieved from Strategies for Assessment

Excerpted from: Tomlinson, C. A. (August, 2000). Differentiation of Instruction in the Elementary Grades. ERIC Digest. ERIC Clearinghouse on Elementary and Early Childhood Education. Retrieved from

Hackett, N., & Hasty, E. (2012, March). Differentatied instruction: How to ensure success for all students. Retrieved from

Garden City Public Schools. (n.d.). Differentiated instruction brochure. Retrieved from (images)