Differentiated Classrooms

HeadStart Ages 4 & 5 Year olds

Creating a Safe & Healthy Learning Enviornment

A physically welcoming learning environment is one that maximizes the space with arrangements that are responsive to students, knowing that some may need a consultation corner, space for collaboration, or an area for working with manipulatives. (Puckett, 2013). Teachers set up the environment so the children can explore on their own. Colors, organized work stations, and displays of student work all convey the message that a classroom is a place where learning is highly regarded and accessible to all. (Puckett, 2013).

Defining Differentiating

Differentiation is an extension of educational best practice, not a substitute for it. It is not an additive process, but is planned from the beginning. (Puckett, 2013). DI relies on other foundational aspects of teaching for effective implementation. (Puckett, 2013).These include attention to respectful tasks, quality curriculum, teaching up, flexible grouping, continual assessment, and building community.(Puckett, 2013).
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Justification for Differentiating in the Classroom Enviornment

Teachers work to build a learning community where students help each other and share in each other's success. (Puckett, 2013). Students feel safe and accepted enough to show what they know. Students express their thoughts without fear of reprisal or ridicule. (Puckett, 2013). They feel valued and participate in decision making in determining classroom rules and procedures. (Puckett, 2013).

Positive Learning Environment

This sense of community is both collective, everyone working together to have a productive learning environment, as well as individual, where students view themselves as learners. (Puckett, 2013). The individual's sense of community is fostered by student-centered approaches that encourage students to be actively involved and to monitor and take responsibility for their learning. (Puckett, 2013).

Social and Emotional Needs of Students

An emotionally welcoming learning environment is one where each student feels like a full participant. (Puckett, 2013). Students sense they are safe. They have access to a range of resources that make them feel respected, involved, challenged, and supported.(Puckett, 2013). An emotionally welcoming classroom demonstrates, through procedures and grouping practices, a respect for individual differences and shared decision making. (Puckett, 2013).

What to Expect from Student Work Assignments and Assessments

For example, a simple activity for students to monitor their learning that requires minimal preplanning is the think-pair-share strategy, where students pause to summarize their learning with a partner, and then share with each other in a larger group or the class as a whole. (Puckett, 2013). Self-assessment strategies, providing students with rubrics or criteria for setting their own goals and evaluating their own work, is another example of a student-centered approach that helps build individual understanding and responsibility. (Puckett, 2013).


Cohan, A . Learning Styles Research: What Really Works A Review of Differentiating Instruction for At-Risk Students: What to Do and How to Do It. DELTA KAPPA GAMMA BULLETIN; 2011

Dixon, Felicia . Yssel, Nina. McConnell, John. Differentiated Instruction, Professional Development, and Teacher Efficacy. Journal for the Education of the Gifted , Jun2014, Vol. 37

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