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 8
In the ClassroomUse these logic puzzles to differentiate for your gifted learners. Project the activities on an interactive whiteboard or projector and use with the whole class as a brain break. Put the website on your class webpage for students to access from home. In addition use the site on your classroom computers and create a learning center during math time. When students finish a puzzle, have them print it and turn it in for a grade.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): flickr (5)
In the ClassroomTag Galaxy offers an engaging way to introduce new concepts or informally assess prior knowledge in science or social studies on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Search key terms such as "leaf" or "kids" and then narrow that search using additional tags. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Ask students to annotate an image using a tool such as Fine Tuna, (reviewed here). Compare and contrast the tags for two photographs. What traits do they share and determine what tags differentiate them from one another. Compare the traits using a site such as the Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here). Once they understand how tags work, challenge students to generate a list of tags for a species image or location image (a digital picture they have taken or found online), using concepts and terms they have studied.
GradesK to 3
tag(s): puzzles (203)
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce new Dolch words or to familiarize students with the rules of the games prior to using them during centers. Be sure to show which areas are ads to avoid. Students can use this site during centers as a review or to differentiate instruction. Have students print out their own Dolch flashcards, cut them up and place them in a plastic bag for those times when they finish their work early. Do not forget to share this useful site with the school reading specialist and ELL/ESL teacher. Another idea: provide this link on your class website for students and parents to access both in and out of the classroom.
Grades3 to 8
In the ClassroomAllow students to read through the reviews to choose literature. After reading the book, have students write their own reviews. Compare and contrast their reviews with the database write-ups. Have students create their own podcasts reviewing the book using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
Differentiate reading assignments by assigning Book Clubs in accordance with student reading levels. Teachers who use the Book Clubs with classes should check school policies on posting student comments on-line and obtain written parent permission. Be sure to establish class guidelines for safe commenting and comply with school policies for identifying student (initials? first names?).
Utilize the Game Show formats as study tools for test prep. Have students create their own test prep formats and present to the class in a Power Point presentation.
This blog site is a model for many effective reading projects upper elementary and middle school classes can create on their own: video summaries (using a site such as SchoolTube reviewed here), book club blogs, Power Point "Jeopardy" book quizzes, and more. The blog promises to continue adding new projects in the future. Use the examples here to inspire your own students.
GradesK to 12
This site includes advertising.
In the ClassroomBe sure to know the URL's of the resources you are planning to share or have them open in other tabs to copy/paste. To share you must be able to copy/paste URLs (web addresses). Have older students create their own webmixes, but this resource is best used as a teacher sharing tool for sharing links, RSS feeds, and other resources for students to use in specific projects or as general course links. If shared with the world, the webmix can be viewed by others and is public.
Create a webmix of the most used sites for your class and first demonstrate how the webmix works on a projector or interactive whiteboard if you have special instructions or color coding for its use. Some examples include links to copyright free images, online textbooks, or online tools such as Google Docs, ThingLink, Prezi, and more. Link to teacher web pages, webquests, resource sites for your subject, and any other resource that is helpful for students. Consider creating a login for the whole class to update with suggestions from class members. Use this AS your class website. Color code the tiles on a webmix for younger, non-reader, or ESL/ELL students. For example, color each subject differently from the others. Differentiate by color coding varying levels of skills practice at a classroom computer center or to distinguish homework practice sites from in-class sites. Differentiate difficulty levels using the various colors enabling you to list resources for both your learning support students and gifted students and all in between. Use color to organize tools for different projects or individual students. You may want to share Symbaloo EDU with parents at Back to School Night and the color-coding system for differentiation. This will help parents (and students) find what sites are ideal for their levels. Be sure to link or embed your webmix on a computer center in your room for easy access. Share a review site webmix for parents and students to access at home before tests, as well. Team up with other teachers in your subject/grade to create chapter by chapter webmixes for all your students. If you are just starting with Symbaloo, this is a simple way to differentiate, however, Symbaloo now has a Lesson Plans tool (also called Learning Paths), reviewed here, to help you differentiate for individual or groups of students.
Challenge your gifted students to curate and collaborate on their own webmixes as a curriculum extension activity on topics such as climate change or pros and cons of genetically engineered food. They can use color coding to sort sites by bias (or neutrality) as well as to group subtopics under the overall theme. Use the student-made webmixes with other students to raise the overall level of discussion in your class or as an extra credit challenge. If you embed the webmix in a class wiki, all students can respond with questions and comments for the gifted students to moderate and reply, creating a student-led community of learners.
Grades2 to 8
tag(s): worksheets (64)
In the ClassroomThis is a great site to help students better understand fractions. Use on an interactive whiteboard or projector and fill out the sheets on the board. Print out the worksheets and pair them with manipulatives and create a center. Since the worksheets have different levels, use them to differentiate for students who need extra scaffolding or for students who need extension activities.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): printables (39)
In the ClassroomThis site is a great way to add creativity to your teaching. Make games boards that can be used to review curriculum in any subject area. These games can be used as a center to support your curriculum. These boards aren't just for the teacher, have pairs of students work together to create their own games. Perhaps have them research a topic, then share the information with peers in the form of a game. Then have students exchange games for other pairs to play. This is a great way to differentiate an assignment by providing different versions of a game or having students create their own at an appropriate level of difficulty. For students who need more support, provide partially completed versions for them to "create" the rest from a word bank.
GradesK to 6
Kindersite collaborates with outside institutions to develop educational projects that compile resources, generate new curriculum models, create training materials, and implement teacher-training seminars. Researchers can gather user data from Kindersite that represents varying population sizes, geographical groupings, and languages.
General Tips and Reminders: Some sites originate from the UK, so some of the pronunciations and spellings may differ from those in American English. There is some advertising on the right side of the page. Some links may direct students to sites that also contain advertising. Warn your students to avoid them.
tag(s): literacy (107)
In the ClassroomInvigorate shared reading with Kindersite's songs and stories. View the colorful illustration and text on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Some stories and songs highlight the tracking of words. Other sites provide character voices when you click the text in quotations. The animation will definitely engage everyone even those who wiggle on the carpet. Differentiate computer centers with the "my page" function. Save interactive tasks that target the instructional needs of students. Make a shortcut to the "my page" site collections on classroom computers and use it as a center. Be sure to take advantage of the professional resources Kindersites provides as well. Post a link to this site on your school website for parents to access at home.
Grades1 to 3
tag(s): money (186)
In the ClassroomMoney Counting Worksheets can provide simple enrichment and differentiated instruction opportunities. This is a great site to add as a math center. You can quickly and easily generate worksheets to supplement math curricula for whole group instruction or individual needs. Be sure to demonstrate how this site works on an interactive whiteboard or projector.
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.