Posts Tagged ‘Differentiated Instruction’

Usually the curriculum will be the same for all children. This means that the student who is challenged will participate in the social studies lesson, the science experiments and the music class, along with the other children. The student’s life experiences will be enriched, and their ability to communicate and form relationships with their peers increased through being included.

Individuals cannot hope to converse with someone about hockey, on any level, if they have never been to a game. Similarly, a student can have no understanding of the universe if he has not been exposed to the concept that the world is round, nor understand the idea of magnification if there is no chance of looking through a magnifying glass or a microscope.


Differentiated instruction is an approach to planning so that one lesson is taught to the entire class while meeting the individual needs of each child.  The teacher weaves the individual goals into the classroom content and instructional strategies. The content and the instructional strategies are the vehicles by which the teacher meets the needs of all the students.

Each lesson:

  • has a definite aim for all students
  • includes a variety of teacher techniques aimed at reaching students at all levels
  • considers student learning styles in presentation of lesson
  • involves all students in the lesson through the use of questioning aimed at different levels of thinking (Bloom’s Taxonomy)
  • allows for students’ adjusted expectations
  • provides choice in the method students will use to demonstrate their understanding of the concepts
  • accepts that different methods are of equal value
  • evaluates students based on their individual differences


  • Encourages inclusion of all students
  • Addresses different learning styles
  • Allows teacher to reach all of the students some of the time
  • Allows for diversity among students
  • Fosters social relations and self-worth
  • Meets social, emotional and academic needs


1. Identify:

  • – underlying concepts – What is it that all students are to understand. Need to clarify difference between the concepts and the content used to develop the concepts.

2. Method of presentation:

  • – concept presented in such a way that all students are able to gain varying degrees of knowledge based on their level of understanding
  • – learning styles of student – auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile
  • – level of cognitive domain – Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • – differentiated participation – based on student’s skill level

3. Method of student practice:

  • – allowance for assignments based on student’s needs
  • – learning styles of student – auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile
  • – level of cognitive ability – Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • – differentiated participation – based on student’s skill level

4. Method of evaluation:

  • – linked to method of performance
  • – learning styles of student – auditory, visual, kinesthetic, tactile
  • – level of cognitive ability – Bloom’s Taxonomy
  • – differentiated participation – based on student’s skill level

5. Method of presentation: Adaptations may be necessary to the environment, the materials and the mode of presenting the information.


Position in room:

  • consider student’s senses – vision, hearing, touch, smell, physical ability
  • sit at front of room, back of room, away from noise, beside teacher,
  • change lighting (light on desk, back to window …)
  • Cooperative grouping

 General Organization: for easy access to organized materials:

  • drawers beside desk
  • soup can for pencils
  • bookends
  • tie pencil to desk
  • attach pencil to student with extension key ring
  • have list of items to complete on desk
  • have timetable on desk
  • reduce excess materials on desk
  • color code notebooks/
  • have student come in early to go over day’s plan
  • headphones to quiet outbursts
  • sit on mat/chair during group floor activities


Student materials:

  • low vocabulary books, audio cassettes, video cassettes, computer, calculator, manipulatives, overhead sheets over text book to allow writing, pictures, notebooks, photocopy of notes, number or alphabet lines on desk or on notebooks

Adapting page set-up:

  • line indicators
  • different types of paper – graph, mid lines, raised lines, red and green lines
  • provide more space for answers
  • highlight directions
  • cover sections of test/sheets, or cut sheets and give student only one
  • section at a time
  • greater contrast ink
  • post-it notes

Adapted devices:

  • scissors
  • chalk holders
  • pencil grippers
  • highlighter
  • bingo markers
  • stamps and stamp pads
  • recipe stand to hold books
  • erasable pens
  • corner pouches to hold papers down
  • vegetable bins to hold materials at desk


Teacher presentation:

  • use hand signals/sign,
  • use variety of levels of materials for whole group,
  • repeat instructions,
  • stand close to student,
  • speak clearly,
  • facing students,
  • modify tone of voice,
  • modify pace


  • write instructions: on board, on post-it notes for student,
  • ask student to repeat instructions,
  • have a peer repeat instructions demonstrate/model,
  • act out instructions,
  • complete first example with student,
  • always put instructions in the same place,
  • simplify instructions,
  • tape record instructions,
  • use pictures, use concrete materials, video for later review,
  • use different colored chalk/pens,
  • break information into steps,
  • give structured overview,
  • have students fill in blanks, jot notes, etc., while listening,
  • provide additional time to preview materials, complete tasks, take tests,
  • photocopy information,
  • highlight key points in text,
  • use contrasting colors of ink,
  • involve students in presentation


  • bulletin boards, banners, posters, television, slides, filmstrips, flashcards, transparencies, drama, graffiti, comics, objects, community events, radio, tapes, records, television, lectures, debates, discussions, field trips, drama, readings, interviews, letters, concerts, taste, smell, touch: texture, temp, movement, adapt level of questioning – Bloom’s Taxonomy

Students involved in presentation:

  • concept mapping
  • cooperative learning – heterogeneous groups
  • brainstorming
  • webbing
  • peer teaching, reciprocal peer teaching, problem solving, coaching, cross-age and same-age tutors
  • mentorship

Method of student practice:

  • Where possible provided guided choices for mode of practice
  • Use Bloom’s taxonomy for planning activities
  • Determine the ability of the child to participate – in the activities

Differentiated Participation:

Differentiated participation may be necessary.  Differentiated participation may require adapting how the student participates, adapting how much the student participates, providing adapted equipment or materials or adapting the rules or goals for that student. Each student is to participate according to his or her level of skill.

Methods of student practice:

  • Verbalize, Write, Create, Perform, Solve, oral report, panel discussion, debate, open discussion, games, brainstorm, oral questions & answers, telephone, interviews, commentary, theme, research, paper, report, workbook, chalkboard, poems, essays, stories, diary, books, plays, cookbook, diorama, collage, scroll, painting, model, graph, pictograph, mural, maps, models, food, timelines, clothing, bulletin board, banner, movie/video, presentation, portraits, games, inventions, simulation, role play, drama, concert, model, music, dance, pantomime, puppet, shows, radio, commercials, puzzles, mazes, problems, equations, riddles, games, brainteasers, scavenger hunt, charades

Bloom’s Taxonomy

  • Knowledge – Requires memory only in order to repeat information
  • Comprehension – Requires rephrasing or explaining information
  • Application – Requires the application of knowledge to determine answer
  • Analysis – Requires identifying motives or causes, drawing conclusions, or determining evidence
  • Synthesis – Requires making predictions, producing original communications or problem solving with more than one possible solution
  • Evaluation – Requires making judgments or offering supported opinions

Method of Evaluation:

  • determine a variety of ways students can demonstrate their mastery of the objectives and their level of understanding of the concepts
  • use Bloom’s Taxonomy to assess level of understanding
  • criteria for evaluation will be determined by child’s needs and abilities


  • self evaluation, KWL – know/want to know/learned , show knowledge in different ways (see methods of practice), peer evaluation, work samples, video, spot checks, portfolio, tests, dictate, oral, use calculator, draw pictures, take home, extended or no time line, open book, provide more space, delete some options, consider the environment – may have to take test in another room, enlarge print, tape test directions/questions, teach test taking strategies and vocabulary, present parts of the test separately


  • give effort/grade comments
  • attach anecdotal comments
  • same format as other students
  • mark based on criteria/goals, not class
  • curriculum based assessment
  • focus on growth

This web site addresses the differences in teachers, teaching styles, classroom environment, and curriculum for special education student whether they are in inclusion classrooms or self contained clssrooms. Through their research, they have compiled data and information from various sources to develop this web site. Included here are specific aspects of this topic so that a further understanding of differentiating curriculum for special ed students can be further developed.