Individual Differences
This material was taken from
Differentiated Instruction
Teachers must be sensitive to the needs
of their students.
 Teachers must find ways to help
students make connections to that they
can learn.
 In differentiated classrooms, all students
have equally engaging learning tasks.
 These learning tasks may or may not be
the same for everyone.
We know that
No two children are alike.
 No two children learn in identical ways.
 An enriched environment for one student
is not necessarily enriched for another.
 In the classroom, we should teach
children to think for themselves.
Marion Diamond
Because of this…
Curricular goals
may be similar for
all students, but
 The methods you
use have to be
Provide multiple paths.
In any classroom…
There will be students performing below
grade level.
 There will be students performing above
grade level.
 Students performing above grade level in
one subject, may not be the same
students performing above grade level in
another subject.
So, you must provide different instruction –
You must differentiate your instruction.
You can…
Differentiate the Content
Differentiate the Process/Activities
Differentiate the Product
A closer look…
1. Differentiate the content
Students who already know the basic
can skip ahead. (Called compacting the
 Students who have some
misconceptions, will need more
 This means you have to find out what
they already know!
2. Differentiate the Process
 Vary
the learning activities.
 Provide
multiple paths of getting to
the content.
 Pay
attention to learning styles,
multiple intelligences, abilities, etc.
3. Differentiating Product
Vary the complexity of the product the
students create to demonstrate their
Planning for Differentiated
Know your students!
2. Have a repertoire of teaching
3. Identify a variety of instructional
4. Identify ways to assess student
Another closer look…
1. Know your students.
ALL differentiation of learning begins with student
You can
Look at student records
Do a pre-test
Survey student interests in topics
Survey student learning styles (ways they prefer to learn)
and multiple intelligences (ways in which they are smart).
Clarify the concept of fairness with them. (Let students
know that they all have different learning needs and
preferences and that it’s okay. Let them know that they
will often be doing different things, but that you will
always hold them to the same high expectations for
2. Have a Repertoire of Teaching
Direct instruction – Traditional and teacher-centered, used
to cover information fast.
Inquiry – Problem-solving in nature, develops thinking
skills. Student-centered. Can be independent or guided by
the teacher.
Cooperative Learning – Heterogeneous groups of students
use a specific strategy to accomplish a task.
Information Processing – Helps students learn to organize,
store, retrieve, and apply information.
3. Identify a Variety of Instructional
Activities should motivate and challenge
 To know what these activities are, you have to
know your students (learning preferences,
multiple intelligences, ability levels, interests,
languages, etc.).
 Good activities give students the opportunity to
develop and then apply their knowledge in
meaningful and relevant.
4. Identify Ways to Assess Student
Students are best able to demonstrate their
knowledge in as many different ways as they
achieve that knowledge.
 “Authentic” or “alternative” assessment means
that students are given the opportunity to
demonstrate what they’ve actually learned.
 Assessment instruments are designed to test
what was taught and what was learned, and
that may mean that the assessments aren’t
Strategies for Differentiating
Adjusting questions – Direct higher level questions to
students who can handle them. Be sure the questions you
ask give the students a chance to be successful while
challenging them at the same time. Put posters with
Bloom’s Taxonomy on the wall. Give students different
forms of the test with different questions. All students
should have the option of trying the higher level stuff.
Compacting curriculum – After assessing students’
knowledge, those that demonstrate mastery are given
alternative activities at higher levels of thinking.
Tiered assignments – Provide several ways for students
to reach the same goals. The assignments should all be
related, but could involve different intelligences. Students
get to chose which assignment they will complete.
More strategies…
Flexible grouping – Allow students to move
back and forth between groups depending on
readiness, talent, interests, etc.
 Peer teaching – Students who demonstrate
mastery (initially or after one-on-one
instruction) can function as tutors to others.
 Learning profiles/styles – Differentiate by
learning style, interest, talent, etc.
More strategies…
Independent studies – Research projects where
students learn and apply independent learning skills.
Study buddies – Allowing a group of students to
work together.
Learning contracts – Activities agreed upon by the
student and the teacher, with a set schedule for
completion so the student may work independently.
Learning centers – Each center should be different
with regard to ability, and/or readiness, and/or
learning style and/or product, etc.
Anchoring activities – Activities that students can do
at the beginning of class or if they finish early. They
are tailored to student needs and interests. Could be
activities such as journal writing, problems to solve, or
worksheets for reinforcement.
A Couple of Examples of
Differentiated Instruction
High School
Elementary School
Sorry, no middle grades example was
provided, but you can get the idea.
The Bottom Line
Use teaching strategies that connect with
the students’ learning strategies.
 Use the teaching strategies that you
know are effective, and make
adjustments as necessary.
 Be flexible.
 Take risks.
 Challenge, motivate, and make it

Individual Differences