Don't Be Scared to Differentiate

What is Differentiated Instruction

One Size Doesn't Fit All

We all realize that students learn in different ways, but meeting the needs of all of our students can be a somewhat overwhelming task. The concepts and strategies listed in this month's Instructional Smore are designed to give you relevant and current ideas to help you as you plan to differentiate your lessons even more.

I'm sure you already incorporate some of the aspects of differentiation in your classrooms everyday. Let this edition be a rich resource for you to explore, and spend some professional learning time navigating through. Challenge yourself to try one of the strategies below in your classroom this month.

As always, let me know if you would like to meet and collaborate on a lesson or unit of study.

"When one teaches, there are two learners."

So... how do I go about differentiating my classroom instruction?


Flexible Grouping

One of the best ways to differentiate the learning is by grouping students homogeneously and heterogeneously in order to give productive struggle as well as strategic instruction. Use your formative assessment data(such as entrance/exit ticket, a pre-assessment activity, guided questioning, Technology FA, etc.) to feed forward and group your students. Then, students are positioned to maximize their learning while lessening their fear of failure.


Cubing encourages students to look at a topic from six different angles. This strategy can be adapted across all disciplines. Describe It, Compare It, Associate It, Analyze It, Apply It, Argue For or Against It.

Socratic Seminars

In Socratic Seminar, participants seek a deeper understanding of complex ideas through thoughtful dialogue, rather than by memorizing bits of information. Students are seated in a circular arrangement. Teacher provides students with a text. After reading the text, students respond to guided questioning from both teacher and peers.

Student Choice Boards-- Tic-Tac-Toe

Choice boards give students the opportunity to participate in multiple tasks that allow them to practice skills they've learned in class or to demonstrate and extend their understanding of the concepts being presented. Choose three adjacent or diagonal tasks to complete.

Learning Menus

Big picture


Rubrics are often used to grade student work but they can serve another, more important, role as well: Rubrics can teach as well as evaluate. When used as part of a formative, student-centered approach to assessment, rubrics have the potential to help students develop understanding and skill, as well as make dependable judgments about the quality of their own work.
Rubric Maker

This is one of many rubric maker websites available online. Click this button link to open.


Ancient Greece: I CAN...

1) Identify the major dates, battles, and figures in the Peloponnesian Wars.

2) Explain important strategies used in the wars and the resulting effects.

3) Compare the Peloponnesian Wars with events in world history today.

Hunger Games: I CAN...

1) Describe the novel's basic symbolism.

2) Explain direct correlations between the book and socialism/communism/etc

3) Discuss examples of current human behavior reflected in the book.

Pythagorean Theorem: I CAN...

1) Apply the formula to simple triangles.

2) Devise a real-life application of the formula and apply it.

3) Identify applications of the formula that are really used in the world of work.

Earth Science: I CAN...

1) Name the properties, composition, and structures of the atmosphere.

2) Explain the relationship of the heating of the atmosphere, the Coriolis Effect & global winds.

3) Construct a circle graph modeling the composition of the atmosphere.

Say "BOO" to Teaching in Isolation...

Here at HJHS and all throughout HCS, differentiated instruction is happening. Oftentimes, we just need to see it in action. Let's make a point to visit other classrooms and see how others are diversifying their instruction. Check with another teacher down the hall, and collaborate on a time to visit. Again, it can be easy to get caught up in what we ARE NOT DOING...let's focus on what we ARE DOING and LEARNING.

Be sure and share your learning!