Examples of ways to differentiate instruction
TeachersFirst's Thinking Teachers who write our resource reviews often have suggestions that have worked in their classrooms. Open the reviews to the "more" view to see ideas for using specific resources as tools to differentiate for a variety of learners. Alternatively, use the keyword search tool at the left of this page to search for a curriculum topic and the term "differentiate." For example, search fractions differentiate (with "all the words" selected for the search).
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomThis is a great site to help students sequence, brainstorm, and organize information. Use on an interactive whiteboard or projector and fill out organizers after a lesson. Print out organizers and have students use them in cooperative reading groups. Use the organizers to differentiate for students who need extra scaffolding or for students who need extension activities. As students get older and learn which study skills help them best, they will want to access this site on their own to study for tests. Be sure to save this site in your personal favorites!
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomSince this site is customizable and offers multiple levels, it is easy to differentiate for ability levels within your class. Create worksheets and use on an interactive whiteboard. Students can fill them out on the whiteboard. Most interactive whiteboard software will let you print directly to the software. Share this link on your class web page and/or in a parent newsletter for those who need extra help or enrichment.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomThis is a great site for differentiated instruction. The interactive games, for example, the Bill of Rights Match game - can be played as individuals, and then they can print their certificate out (could be used as a "ticket to leave" for understanding). The "Preamble Scrabble Game" could be a timed exercise for groups or teams of students. The teacher could have the game on the projector or interactive whiteboard or again on individual workstations. Allow students to learn about the documents on their own, and then share their understanding by writing a blog post from the point of view of a person whose rights have been violated or a writer of the Constitution. Younger students will benefit from accessing the safety activity both at school and at home, Be sure to share this link with parents on your class web page.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomWhat makes this site special is that the content comes directly from educators and students. Use the existing math problems as a challenge activity or to demonstrate how math can be used in the real world. Share the maps and math questions on your interactive whiteboard or projector. The different pin colors represent different age groups so you can choose appropriately leveled math problems. You can easily differentiate for individuals by telling them which color to explore. This site is a great way to get your students to learn more about their community. Have your students research a community spot and create a math problem about it as a class. Enter the information onto the map together or under teacher supervision for other classes all over the world to use. Allow students to explore on their own and keep a math log of all the problems they found and solved on a "trip around the world with math."
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomSave this site in your favorites on classroom computers and use it as a center. Students can focus on areas of strength or weakness on a math game day. Because this site offers multiple levels and activities for many topics, it is easy to differentiate for ability levels within your class. Include this site on your class web page for students and parents to access for home based skills practice. There is a LOT here to explore.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomStudents will love this site for reviewing and preparing for exams. Share this link on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom. Take advantage of the FREE study guides. Why not have cooperative learning groups investigate specific topics relative to your current unit of study and create multimedia presentation. Create podcasts, using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here). Have students create a Have students create an annotated image including text boxes and related links using a tool such as Thinglink, reviewed here. Challenge students to find a photo (legally permitted to be reproduced), and then narrate the photo as if it is a news report about the event or topic. To find Creative Commons images for student projects (with credit, of course), try Compfight, reviewed here. Teachers can also use this site to differentiate between the typical lectures used to teach a US history project. Use the images on this site to create a "picture walk" in your classroom, introducing any one of the topics offered. Select 10-15 of the more powerful and diverse images, hanging them up in different locations around your classroom. Have students rotate around the classroom every 30-45 seconds, jotting down what they observe and infer about each image until the entire class has completed the circuit. After the class is back in their seats, have a class discussion based on what they observed and what this says about the topic.
Grades1 to 5
In the ClassroomReinforce student skills and give them practice in counting money and making change. Start out at easy levels with hints and work up to a greater difficulty level. This site offers great opportunities to differentiate for your students! Students can work in groups or individually. Have real coins available for those who need to feel and see the change before clicking the online coins the correct amount of times.
Grades2 to 8
In the ClassroomMany students feel inadequate with math concepts. Use these simple lessons and activities to teach concepts in a meaningful and easy to understand manner. Share the activities on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Or have students work on individual computers and use this site to differentiate instruction to meet each student's current math level. After understanding, provide additional practice on paper or with other manipulatives.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAs an example, use a verb from Bloom' taxonomy such as "evaluate." Click on the part of the sentence at the top, in parenthesis, to enter your content such as "patterns of environmental issues." Choose the resource you want students to use, the product you want them to make, and the number of students in a group by clicking on the tabs. Example objective: Students will evaluate the patterns of environmental issues using websites to create a news report in groups of two. Save your objective by copying and pasting it into any document or online tool. The Differentiator will give you many project ideas that you may not have thought of yourself, and serves as a welcome reminder of different activities and expectations you can use in your classroom. Take a look at this site at the beginning of the school year or when creating a new unit (or project). Find new ways to differentiate for your gifted students using this creative and powerful tool. If your gifted students test out of your current math lessons, use this site to find new material to challenge their minds. This site is deceptively quick and simple, but it could be very useful when writing detailed, powerful lesson plans.
Grades1 to 12
One disadvantage of the site is that you can only enter a keyword when you get to the third step. After a book list based on interests appears, then you can search by keyword to make the search zero in on specifics. When teachers or students select books for a reading list, they can then click to see the complete list of books they have selected. Clicking on a book title leads to another screen, but it does not contain a book summary; instead, it has a list of other keywords for the book along with other book data.
In the ClassroomThis site is great for teachers searching for books at specific lexile levels. Learning support and ESL/ELL teachers can find books to accompany units in content area classes but on the correct lexile level. Students can also use the site by entering their grade levels and what kind of readers they are. Use this site to differentiate the learning experience for all levels of students. Rather than having students complete traditional book reports, why not have them complete a multimedia project? Provide some choices such as a podcast, using PodoMatic (reviewed here), interactive venn diagram comparing characters (reviewed here), or online book using Bookemon (reviewed here).
GradesK to 3
In the ClassroomThis is a great site for the student who always finishes his/her work first...and has all of the answers correct. Demonstrate HOW to use this site using your projector or interactive whiteboard. Set up math learning station using this site. Use this site's variety of levels to differentiate for your students. Share this link on your class website for students to practice addition both in and out of the class.
Grades6 to 12
tag(s): civil war (145)
In the ClassroomThe site is a gold mine of information, and would be useful to either students doing in-depth research, or for teachers who want to highlight the specific contrasts between communities from the North and the South during the Civil War. Teachers who wish to differentiate instruction will find paper topics which could be assigned to students who want to extend the lesson. Additionally, paper topics give options for creative essays, traditional essays or research papers, which can be adapted to different learning styles. Why not have students create a fictitious ongoing wiki between folks living on either side of the "line." What might they say to one another? Not sure what a wiki is? Check out the TeachersFirst's Wiki Walk-Through.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomThis site can easily be differentiated using the specific age ranges provided. Use this site to differentiate for your special education, ESL, or ELL students.
Be sure to visit the Teachers Link for some excellent ideas. All of the activities are perfect for learning stations, individual computers, or on an interactive whiteboard or projection screen. The offerings available are so diverse, that this website could be used throughout several language arts, math, science, art, and music lessons. Feature this website in your class newsletter or on your website so students can practice these educational activities at home.
GradesK to 3
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomThis website could be used for an entire class using your interactive whiteboard or projector. You could also set up a learning center for use during your L.A. block. Use this site to differentiate reading levels for your students. Be certain to save this site in your class favorites and list this site on your class website for students to access both in and out of the classroom.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomThis informational site is a MUST HAVE in any secondary math class. Be certain to save this site in your favorites. The site highlights countless algebra topics (and other math areas). Share the information on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Share the link on your class website so students can access the site both in and out of the classroom. Have cooperative learning groups explore one of the topics presented at the lessons or activities link. Have the groups create a video to share what they learned. Share the videos on your interactive whiteboard or projector using a tool such as TeacherTube (explained here). Differentiate! You can easily find extension activities for your more-able students to do while you reinforce the basics with others.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this free website (and the many tips) to help your autistic students succeed, whether you are in a regular classroom or special ed. Share this link in your class newsletter and on your class website. Be sure to provide this link to any colleagues helping autistic students in and out of the classroom.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomIntroduce this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore the puzzles on their own. Use this site to differentiate for various students. Be certain to save this site in your favorites and check back often. List this link on your class website so students can "play" both in and out of the classroom. Have older students attempt to create their own KENKEN puzzles. It's not as easy as you think.
GradesK to 6
There is a "Sign In" option, but all features appear useable without registering at the site. This site requires Flash. Get it from theTeachersFirst Toolbox page..
tag(s): drawing (80)
In the ClassroomIf you find your art teacher is out for the day and there is no substitute, let Kevin teach art to your class via an interactive whiteboard, projector, or individual computers. This site could be used in language arts class to illustrate a story, social studies class to add depth and drawings to a project, or other subject areas. Differentiate for your visual/spatial students by providing the link to these tutorials when they choose to create visual book reports or research products.
GradesK to 6
Be warned: the "spinning" page has some rather loud audio sounds. Either turn up the volume and enjoy, or hit the mute button! This site requires Flash and Adobe Acrobat. You can get both from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.
In the ClassroomWhether you are looking for a daily prompt for your students, or individual prompts for writing stations, you will find some creative ideas here. Share how to use this site on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Set up writing stations and have students use this site to find their prompts. Use this site to differentiate for your gifted students by allowing them to choose a prompt at a higher grade level. List this link on your class website for some writing practice or extra credit writing exercises.
GradesK to 8
Be aware there are several advertisements at this website (all appropriate). But considering this site is free (and full of ready to go math activities), the advertisements are worth the minor annoyance.