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 ClassroomDownload and use SwifDoo PDF for many of your classroom needs. Edit documents to differentiate instruction based on student interests and abilities. If your original document isn't in PDF format, use a conversion tool such as CleverPDF, reviewed here, to convert your file to PDF and begin using SwifDoo. Use the annotation feature as a collaborative tool for you and your students. For example, add feedback to a student document as an annotation and allow them to respond on the same document. Share the same feature with students working on collaborative projects as a tool for sharing ideas within a single document. Add a password to sensitive documents shared with parents, such as behavior reports or feedback on academic progress. Use the Merge tool to combine multiple files to create remote learning packets, share missed classroom assignments, or create a class handbook with pertinent information.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomAdd this extensive search library to your current toolbox of resources for classroom and professional use. Search for ideas when planning upcoming units and lessons and provide differentiated instruction to meet your students' learning needs. Use a learning management system such as Eduflow, reviewed here, or Classkick, reviewed here, to easily create and share personalized instruction that includes resources found on this site along with your current lessons and materials.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark and save this website as a resource for finding supplemental materials for your classroom and professional development information for personal use. For example, if you teach algebra, use the search feature to find introductory and prealgebra textbooks to reinforce concepts to students differently than your current teaching materials. For students who need enrichment material, take advantage of algebra 2 books to provide differentiated instruction to meet their learning needs. This resource would be ideal to use in a remote learning situation. Consider curating this site along with other open education resources (OER) using Wakelet, reviewed here. Create a collection in Wakelet of your OER resources and share it with colleagues as a professional resource.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse SchoolStack to differentiate learning for different student needs and abilities by quickly modifying lesson activities to share with individual students or groups. Replace your current homework activities using SchoolStack to provide students with various options for completing learning activities. Offer activities that meet student interests and learning styles within each stack to encourage student interest and participation. When teaching blended learning or remote learning activities, use SchoolStack to share information with students and gather data and feedback from their participation in the lessons.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomTake advantage of the free resources found on this site to introduce HyperDocs into your classroom instruction or enhance your current use of hyperdocs. If you are new to using hyperdocs, watch this archived recording of OK2Ask: Believe the Hype! Using HyperDocs for Innovative Instruction, reviewed here, to learn about creating and using HyperDocs. Share this resource with your peers when collaborating on lessons and instructional activities. Use HyperDocs to differentiate instruction for the variety of student needs in your classroom or as a flipped learning activity.
Grades5 to 12
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In the ClassroomBookmark and save this site as a supplemental resource for your current lessons, as a resource for students to learn about subjects not covered in their current courses, and to differentiate learning for students. For example, provide remediation to high school students by sharing the 9th or 10th-grade literature and composition courses as a review activity or enhance your British Literature unit by assigning a module that focuses specifically on 17th, 18th, or 19th-century British literature. Consider assigning different activities to groups of students to present to their peers. Ask them to use an infographic creator such as the Canva Infographic Creator, reviewed here, as a tool for sharing important information. As a final learning extension, create a digital class book using Ourboox, reviewed here, to share understanding of the content learned. Include text, images, maps, and more in the student-created books.
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In the ClassroomFlashcard Factory is an excellent tool for both in-person and remote learning. Use this feature to create vocabulary lists for spelling, science terms, social studies events, etc. Differentiate learning by creating lists for different student abilities or interests. Because students are the creators, they are engaged and more motivated in the learning process. Extend learning by asking students to write short stories or create writing journals using the vocabulary words used in the flashcards. For example, search for vocabulary at Read Write Think, reviewed here, to find the lesson plan for My World of Lists: Building Vocabulary Lists. This lesson culminates with students creating a "My World of Words Journal."
Grades5 to 12
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In the ClassroomUse Edia to create, share, and differentiate math practice questions with students. Create practice sheets for students on the fly as you assess understanding of concepts or review previously learned material. If parents ask for additional support for their students, create individual practice on the necessary skills. Some of Edia's explanations may take a different approach than methods taught in your classroom, use this to your advantage and ask students to share different methods for approaching problems. Ask students to share their approaches using a screen recording tool such as Free Screen Recorder Online, reviewed here, or with FlipGrid, reviewed here, as a video response that includes use of the included whiteboard tool.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark #GoOpenVA to use as your first stop in lesson planning. Take advantage of the search filters to narrow down the content and grade-level information to suit your needs. This website is also an excellent resource for finding materials to differentiate instruction. Use higher-level activities to challenge gifted students and search for content for remediation. As you gather resources into a collection, or lesson plans, be sure to think about ways to incorporate technology in meaningful ways to enhance and extend learning.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark and save this brain teaser site to use throughout the school year. Share a problem of the week with your students to complete as homework or during a work center. Provide teasers of different levels of difficulty to differentiate and challenge your students. Enhance student learning by asking them to explain their success in solving challenges and sharing their process to find the correct solution. Use FlipGrid, reviewed here, to share your weekly teasers, then have students create and share a video response. Ask students to use the tools on Flipgrid such as the whiteboard, stickers, and text to explain their responses in detail. Extend learning further by creating a class book using Imagine Forest, reviewed here. Use Imagine Forest to make and share a digital book of brain teasers. Use the interactive elements to add links to audio suggestions for tackling problems or link to video solutions on the final pages of your book.
GradesK to 9
In the ClassroomEnrollment in Mensa isn't required to take advantage of the many resources found on this site for all students. Use the reading lists as a starting point for stocking your class library or a student reading list for the current school year. Encourage students to complete the reading list and return to Mensa for a free t-shirt. Incorporate the lesson plans into your existing curriculum, then differentiate learning as you adapt to student needs. For example, use the Book Review Writing lesson to help students understand the difference between reviews and reports. This lesson also includes specific information on what to have with book reports. Begin by teaching this lesson in small groups, then use Google Jamboard, reviewed here, to create a frame for each of the main topics. Enhance student learning by asking students to add sticky notes with their observations and thoughts. Have your group work together to share their book review using a simple to use blogging tool such as Telegraph, reviewed here. Extend learning further by creating a class podcast sharing book reviews created through the lesson process found on Mensa for Kids. Buzzsprout, reviewed here, is a free tool for creating and publishing podcasts that is appropriate for students of all ages. Use Buzzsprout to record and share book reviews throughout the school year.
GradesK to 8
In the ClassroomSave this site for use as an entire curriculum, or use the materials to supplement your current resources. Use the materials to differentiate learning activities for your students. Provide students additional support using content found at lower grade levels or challenge gifted students with materials from a higher grade level. Use Duck Soup, reviewed here, as an alternative to printed assignments and convert any page into an e-sheet gradable activity.
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
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