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).
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Whiteboard.chat to collaborate with students to share and organize information instantly. This tool even allows educators to auto-correct all boards with a single click! Use the PDF document feature to differentiate instruction with groups of students or individuals. Use the breakout feature to conduct small group meetings or provide personalized instruction to individual students. Allow students to create collaborative drawings as responses to literature. They can map out the plot or themes, add labels, create character studies, and more. Have a group of students create a drawing so that another group can use it as a writing prompt. Use Whiteboard.com as a brainstorming or sketching space as groups (or the class) share ideas for a major project or for solving a real-world problem. Use this site in a computer lab (or on laptops) to draw the setting in a story as it is read aloud. As an assessment idea, have students draw out a simple cartoon with stick figures to explain a more complex process, such as how democracy works. If you are lucky enough to teach in a BYOD setting, have a blended classroom, or are distance teaching, use Whiteboard.chat to demonstrate and illustrate any concept while students use the chat and drawing tools to interact in real-time. If you are studying weather, have students diagram the layers of the atmosphere and what happens during a thunderstorm, for example. Introduce this tool to students who are working on group projects. Alternatively, have students use this to work as partners or as a small team within a breakout area to complete complex math problems or equations.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this site with students and provide time for them to explore on their own. Ask them to share their findings and observations using sticky notes posted to a collaborative Google Jamboard, reviewed here. Enhance student learning using Newsela, reviewed here, to assign texts and articles related to glaciers and climate change. Use Newsela's teaching tools to assign writing prompts and quizzes within any shared articles. Differentiate instruction with Newsela by choosing texts that match the different reading and comprehension levels of your students. Extend learning by asking individuals or groups of students to use Juxtapose, reviewed here, to create a before and after image to demonstrate changes of ice formations over time. Be sure to follow the tips and tricks found on Juxtapose as your students build their interactive images.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomTeacherMade is perfect for use in several teaching and learning situations, including blended learning, remote teaching, and differentiated instruction. Upload work assignments and create copies to differentiate activities and scoring options. Use this site to create interactive assignments for students to complete at home or during computer center activities. TeacherMade provides many options for helping and enhancing learning for individual students, use for homework, or as a temporary option for providing instruction to home-bound or remote learning students. Have students upload completed assignments of their choosing to an online portfolio creation tool like kudosWall, reviewed here. Use kudosWall to help students build their work resumes, including reflections on their creative process and personal growth.
Grades1 to 12
In the ClassroomDiscover and use Blooket's many engaging games as a resource for practicing and reviewing information within any area of content. Use the score results to provide feedback for guiding further lessons. Some games are more fast-paced than others; use this to your advantage by sharing different versions for different groups of students. Use Blooket to differentiate instruction by adjusting the difficulty of question sets based on student abilities. Introduce new content using Blooket as a pre-assessment before starting any new unit. Use Blooket as an ice-breaker or get-to-know-you activity at the start of the school year or at the beginning of a new semester to build comradery within your classroom.
Grades9 to 12
In the ClassroomTake advantage of this free textbook to use for your American History curriculum or supplement your current teaching materials. Pick and choose text, source materials, or assessment information to enhance your curriculum. This text is a perfect addition for schools lacking up-to-date content or for use with distance learning. Use a curation tool such as Padlet, reviewed here, to organize and share materials with students. Use the shelf option to create categories and organize them by videos, articles, primary source documents, etc., to make information easily accessible by your students. Encourage students to share their understanding of the content by creating videos, flyers, graphic images, and more using the tools found at Canva Edu, reviewed here. Use the text to speech option to differentiate learning for students with disabilities and English Language Learners.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the free lesson plan that accompanies the videos on this playlist as part of your American History and WWII lessons. Consider sharing a video at the start of a lesson to engage students in learning about discriminatory policies' personal toll during the war. Use a discussion tool such as Answer Garden, reviewed here to gather student responses and create word clouds to encourage classroom discussion. Add videos from the playlist to other activities within a teacher utility such as TES Teach Blendspace, reviewed here. Use Blendspace to add additional reading activities, quizzes, and more content to deliver lessons for distance learning or as a tool for self-paced learning. Easily differentiate learning by copying your original Blendspace learning then modifying activities based upon student needs. Extend learning by having students share their understanding of internment camps by presentations using Sway, reviewed here that includes student writing responses, images, videos, and more. Another option is to offer students the choice of building an interactive timeline using History in Motion, reviewed here that offers users the option to include maps, add events, include source materials, and more.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomUse Boddle to differentiate math instruction for your students. Include a link to Boddle on classroom computers for use during math centers, and provide a link on your classroom website for your blended classroom or for students to play at home. Share with parents to create individual accounts for use at home. Include Boddle with other online math programs using a bookmarking tool such as Symbaloo, reviewed here, for easy access by students.
Grades3 to 12
tag(s): agriculture (44), climate (79), climate change (69), design (82), forests (25), oceans (134), recycling (44), remote learning (33), solar energy (32), STEM (212), Teacher Utilities (111), water (101)
In the ClassroomBookmark this site as a resource for science and nature lessons to supplement current materials in your classroom. Because lessons were created for use in remote learning situations, they are perfect for including during elearning or digital learning days. Create an account and customize lessons to personalize activities to fit your curriculum and students. For example, customize lessons easily to change discussion questions to adapt to student abilities, then share the differentiated lessons to different groups of students. Extend learning by adding links to additional activities such as asking students to write a short blog post using Edublogs, reviewed here or create a cartoon based on the activity's content using ToonyTool, reviewed here. Extend learning for all students using Synth's audio podcasting tool reviewed here. Begin by creating a discussion question, then share the topic with students. Students record a response that is 256 seconds or less; responses are linked together to create a shareable audio podcast.
Grades1 to 5
In the ClassroomInclude Monsters vs. Fractions with your other games and resources when teaching fractions. Include it as part of your computer center time or assign it as homework for students to practice within the different games. Use a bookmarking tool such as Symbaloo, reviewed here, to share games and practice sites with students in one easy to locate place. Create an interactive lesson that includes Monsters vs. Fractions using TES Teach Blendspace, reviewed here. Add videos that explain different ways to work with fractions and upload practice sheets differentiated to meet your students' varying needs. Make students the experts on fractions by asking them to create screen recordings using Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here, to demonstrate tips and tricks for working with fractions that help players get further within each game.
GradesK to 6
In the ClassroomBookmark Twinkl for use throughout the year to find teaching resources for holidays, content topics, and homework ideas. Take advantage of Twinkl Create to easily make and differentiate charts, banners, word mats, and other classroom use printables. When saving favorite materials found on the site, set the popup reminder to remind you to use it later in the year. For example, when you find the End of Year packet, save it to your account and set a reminder for late spring so that it can be included with other items to include when wrapping up the school year or sending home materials for practice over the summer. Twinkl includes free teaching packets by grade level; these packets include activities customized for different ability levels. Use items from teaching packets as part of your center activities or send them home for additional practice as needed. After downloading materials, make your lessons digital using Kami, reviewed here. Use the free version of Kami to upload documents and add highlights, text, comments, and shapes before sharing with students.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomInclude these free lessons in a variety of ways in your classroom. Use the content to help students understand social causes important to them and how to engage in their cause. This site offers various methods to create social issue campaigns, including music, film, and persuasive writing opportunities. Use this information to differentiate learning opportunities for students with activities that appeal to their interests. For students interested in coding, use Minecraft Education Edition, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse the Weill Music Institute's free resources to provide music education to students as part of your music education curriculum or within your role as a classroom teacher. For example, as part of social studies lessons about countries worldwide, be sure to see the activity for learning about countries through song. Many resources feature videos; engage and enhance instruction by adding questions and comments to videos using Vibby, reviewed here. If your district blocks YouTube, flip your classroom and have students watch the Vibby/Youtube videos at home. Include activities as part of a larger learning unit that includes online information, quizzes, and additional videos using a learning delivery platform such as Blendspace, reviewed here. Blendspace provides simple to use tools that make it easy to share a variety of resources with students and differentiate instruction.
GradesK to 5
tag(s): addition (139), division (107), fractions (185), geometric shapes (140), measurement (142), money (130), multiplication (135), number lines (34), numbers (136), patterns (66), place value (42), preK (229), subtraction (124)
In the ClassroomEven if you don't use the Bridges in Mathematics curriculum, this site provides many supports for any math curriculum. Include the math apps as part of a math center or include them in your shared resources for math practice. Use a bookmarking tool like Symbaloo, reviewed here, to share all of your math practice sites with students on your classroom computers and devices. Take advantage of the daily math activities to share open-ended math problems with students using FlipGrid, reviewed here. Display the problem on Flipgrid, and ask students to create a video sharing their response and problem-solving technique. Use the math activities to differentiate students' activities, use ideas from upper grades to challenge students, or help struggling students reinforce previous concepts by choosing ideas from lower grade levels.
Grades9 to 12
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In the ClassroomShare TestFellow with students to help them prepare for upcoming classroom assessments and standardized tests. Use the questions found in TestFellow along with your current content to create your quizzes using Quizalize, reviewed here. Quizalize engages students through its competitive game format and offers instant feedback and follow-up resources to enhance learning. As you assess student learning, create differentiated learning opportunities using a learning management system such as Crio, reviewed here. Crio includes easy to use tools to build interactive lessons that include various media, content, and assessment options.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse Canvas to deliver remote instruction or as a supplemental tool for in-school instruction. Create courses to differentiate learning opportunities for students. Provide advanced courses for gifted learners, or add additional resources for students that need additional instruction in any content area. As students become familiar with using Canvas, encourage them to use the ePortfolio feature to share their educational accomplishments and reflect upon the learning process.
GradesK to 8
tag(s): data (136), decimals (103), differentiation (57), exponents (37), factoring (27), fractions (185), guided reading (37), measurement (142), OER (32), remote learning (33), transformations (13), writing (280)