What’s the Buzz? Differentiation in Elementary Inclusive Learning Environments

Wednesday, June 27, 2018 ⬥ 11:00 AM – 12:30 PM
Presented by Stephanie Bass and Melissa Henning

Session Description:

Differentiation is necessary for elementary inclusive learning environments. Join us as we compare and contrast differentiation, personalized learning, individualized learning and universal design. Explore the pedagogy behind Tomlinson’s model. Discover multiple tools for inclusive learning. Collaborate with peers to formulate a list of tools and create a simple digital project.


Look around your classroom, what do you see? Possible a handful of students with an IEP, several ADHD students, a few gifted students, and some ESL learners? Possibly half of your students leave the classroom at some point of the day to visit learning support, the reading specialist, autistic support, or other services. You also probably have a few “in the middle” students. How do you meet the needs of such diverse learners? How do you differentiate for those students that are not “in the middle?” Differentiation is excellent for ALL students, but especially beneficial to meet the needs of special needs students in the elementary classroom.

Join us as we explore the pedagogy behind Tomlinson’s model of differentiation and tools to implement it. We will dissect Tomlinson’s theories of student readiness, interest, and learning style. We will learn about web tools to differentiate for content, process, and product. Participants will analyze the importance of differentiation with special needs students and how Tomlinson’s model can help achieve maximum differentiation for all students. Participants will begin a list of tools useful in their classroom.

In addition to discussing Tomlinson’s approach, we will also compare differentiation to personalized learning, individualized learning, and Universal design for learning. How are these approaches the same? How are they different?

Finally, participants will explore tools on their own as they collaborate in small groups. They will work together to create a short presentation sharing what their group discovered. They will use a digital tool, such as Flipgrid.


As a result of the presentation, participants will:

    • Compare the four models: differentiation, personalized learning, individualized learning, and Universal design for learning;
    • Learn about Tomlinson’s model for differentiation;
    • View and explore resources and tools for content, process, and product. They will create a curated list of resources useful in their teaching environment; and
    • Collaborate on teams and explore additional resources and create a short presentation sharing their findings using a digital tool (for example, Flipgrid).
Session Slide Deck:

Find more resources and classroom implementation ideas on this session’s RESOURCES page.

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