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Principles of a Differentiated Classroom

  • The teacher is clear about what matters in subject matter.
  • The teacher understands, appreciates, and builds upon student differences.
  • Assessment and instruction are inseparable.
  • The teacher adjusts content, process, and product in response to student readiness, interests, and learning profile.
  • All students participate in respectful work.
  • Students and teachers are collaborators in learning.
  • Goals of a differentiated classroom are maximum growth and individual success.
  • Flexibility is the hallmark of a differentiated classroom.

From The Differentiated Classroom by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Online Tutorial-  Explore the nine principles of differentiation  

Instructional and Management Strategies to Support Differentiation

Anchor Activities: On-going assignments for which students are accountable, tied to the curriculum and which students work on when they finish other assignments, allowing the teacher to manage other instructional groups in the classroom

Assessment and Diagnosis: Collecting and using student data to plan responsive instruction

Audit Cards: An assessment tool which asks students to document on a card their work at a station or center for the teacher to review

Choice Board: Providing students with multiple options targeted toward individual needs

Curriculum Compacting: Teachers preassessing students' readiness, determining what students know and what they need to learn and then compressing content to be learned in order to accommodate study of an area of interest

Doctor Is In: Asking students to sign up for an "appointment" with the teacher when she is engaged with other students or groups

Exit Cards (AKA “Tickets to Leave”): Way to access students' readiness, interest, and learning profiles

Responding on an index card to a few questions to determine level of students' learning or understanding and turning them in as they leave the class

Flexible Grouping: Placing students in instructional groups for a specific skill, unit of study, or other learning opportunity based on readiness, interest, or learning profile to create temporary groups for an hour, a day, a week, or a month

Independent Study: Students and teachers working together to identify problems, topics, or issues, planning a method for investigation, and agreeing on a product the student will develop

Interest Surveys: Formal or informal assessments of students' interests in a particular area of study or in general

Learning Centers: Places in the classroom where the teacher has gathered resources and materials and has created assignments to teach, reinforce, or extend students' skills

Learning Contracts and Personal Agendas: Written agreements between teachers and students which outline instructions, goals, tasks, and evaluation criteria

Excellent for managing other tasks such as learning centers and stations, curriculum compacting, anchor activities, independent projects, and tiered activities

Math Stations: Places in the classroom where students work simultaneously on different tasks related to a single topic, concept, skill

Mini-Lessons: Direct instruction of short duration on a topic or skill usually done in a small or large group, required or voluntary, based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile

Most Difficult First: Doing the most difficult items first as a means of demonstrating mastery or understanding and then selecting alternative activities afterward

Multiple Texts: Gaining understanding through the use of multiple texts at different levels of difficulty and complexity

Portfolios: A compilation of students' work, representing progress over time

Reading and Study Buddies: Creating pairs of students who can assist one another in reading an assignment or studying/reviewing subject matter

Student Expert Desks: Management strategy allowing teacher to work with individuals or small groups without interruption by designating “student experts” to help peers

Student or Adult Mentors: Resource teachers, media specialists, parent volunteers, older students, or community members who can guide students' growth in a particular area of interest or talent

Task Cards: Management tool used to make individual or small group assignments

Directions for student activities recorded on cards students can proceed on their own as they complete the assignment

Recorded directions for small group or individual assignments used to promote student engagement in a multitask classroom

Three Before Me: Asking students to check with three other students before coming to the teacher for help, particularly when she is working with individuals or small groups

Tiered Activities: Using varied levels of content to ensure that students work with the same essential ideas but at their appropriate level of challenge.

Generated from the works of Carol Ann Tomlinson