Differentiating Instruction with Tech

INTRODUCTION: Why Differentiated Instruction?

Differentiated Instruction (DI) is a teaching philosophy that involves providing students with different ways to learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability or learning styles.

Although curriculum expectations are standardized by a Ministry of Education or Boards of Education, methodologies can be varied to suit the individual needs of students. By differentiating instruction, we can create different paths that take into consideration the abilities, interests and needs of each student. Differentiating instructions allows us to prepare a curriculum that will educate and stimulate students who range across the spectrum of exceptionalism.

Carol Ann Tomlinson writes, "Differentiation is an organized yet flexible way of proactively adjusting teaching and learning to meet kids where they are and help them to achieve maximum growth as learners." (1999)

Differentiated Instruction is:

Differentiated Instruction Menu

Step One: Knowing the Learner

  • Starts by getting to know your students. Understand the way individual students learn best by observing and assessing at their strengths and needs, interests, learning preferences and readiness to learn. What are there learning styles and multiple intelligences?

Step Two: Responding by Differentiating

  • Differentiating Content - Teachers can vary the topic or entry point (where they start in their teaching). For example, in our school, you don't have to explain what the Holocaust is as all our students already know the basics. However, with complicated mathematical formulas, you will probably have to start with basics. Differentiate material that student needs to learn (eg. quantity or depth)

Designing Lessons

When planning your lessons, it is important to help all students achieve your results. You can aim high - what Ian Bryd of Byrdseed.com calls a "high ceiling" (although he credits Jo Boaler of Mathematical Mindsets and https://www.youcubed.org/ ), via Dan Meyer.

As educators, we want to "lower the floor" to allow students to get started easily on our lessons. Bryd recommends starting with the highest-ability students and using these strategies to scaffold instructions so that students can achieve success:

        • Modeling - demonstrate what to do, don't just explain.

        • Guided practice - practice what they have to do with a partner, while you watch and guide.

        • Scaffolding - start with simple examples or instruction and build up.

        • Feedback - provide constructive feedback that will gently guide students towards success.

  • Differentiating Process - The way that the student learns the material. A Hyperdoc or learning stations offer a variety of learning strategies can help students learn and maintain their interest. Chunking instruction can also be helpful.

  • Differentiating Product - Differentiate the Product, eg. what the student produces to demonstrate their learning. Offering a choice board, or an opportunity to create a written or oral product helps a student to demonstrate their learning in the way that best suits their style and interests.

  • Changing the Environment - Changing the environment to provide the best conditions for learning. This include working alone or with others, or in a quiet vs noisy environment.

  • DI Assessment

  • Ways to differentiate: pace, level of complexity, degree of independence, amount of structure

Using Forms Quizzes

Ask questions about prior knowledge and based on their answers, you can direct students to different sections with resources and information to fill in gaps. If this is a diagnostic assessment, don't assign points.

For formative assessment, if students answer incorrectly, you can provide them with written feedback, links to videos and websites to help them review the concept. This is useful for ALL students.

For students that have mastered the concept, you can direct them to a section where you've posted more advanced activities, examples of exam questions, or enriched learning that gives a task to apply their knowledge.

To encourage students to review the correct information, you could allow them to try again and submit a new answer, or even take them to a new section that asks another problem based on your feedback.

Also see: Gifted and Talented and Icons for Depth and Complexity


Institutes on Academic Diversity - http://differentiationcentral.com/

EducatingAllLearners.org is a new website geared towards teachers of special education students with guidance on delivering onilne lessons.

Kasey Bell's post on Interactive Learning Menus and Choice Boards - https://shakeuplearning.com/blog/interactive-learning-menus-choice-boards-using-google-docs/


Don Meyer: https://blog.mrmeyer.com/2012/ten-design-principles-for-engaging-math-tasks/


Joe Sisco has created an excellent Google Site on Learning Needs and Google Classroom at https://sites.google.com/view/learning-needs-gc/home