Differentiation is the deliberate act of modifying instruction or an assignment in order to customize the effect to match the particular developmental level and skills of a student or group of students. The ideal is to provide equivalent learning activities that cater to the students&apos; strengths but bring all of the students to the same learning objective.
Students choose from the activities as part of a lesson. Inside the folder would be a form that lays out the options students have. To create a choice board identify the goals of the lesson. An assignment that reflects the goals of the lesson should then be created. Students will complete an option in order to meet the requirements and reach the goal .
After introduction of the material, the students could be placed into groups based on student ability. If a student needs further instruction, the teacher may do one-on-one instruction. Teachers may lead the whole class, small groups of students, or participate in one-on-one instruction. Leading the whole class is best for introduction of new units or concepts. In the science classroom, the teacher could present a lesson on photosynthesis to the whole class. After the initial presentation, the students could assemble groups based on: student characteristics (who takes good notes, who likes to be a leader, etc.,), who wants to work together, or by student ability (who will understand the material versus who will need additional instruction).
Science is a creative and analytic enterprise, made active by our human capacity to think. Scientific knowledge advances when scientists observe objects and events, think about how they relate to what is known, test their ideas in logical ways, and generate explanations that integrate the new information into understanding of the natural and designed worlds (&quot;Foss&quot;, 2014).
Tiered instruction can take more work than non-tiered instruction. Pre-assessments must be conducted before instituting tiered assignments. The teacher has to plan more than one assignment in order to reach each student at the correct level. Students will all focus on essential concepts and skills, your goals, but they will be working at a level that allows maximum learning and minimum frustration. Some students may work in small groups with an instructional assistant to master math concepts and others may work individually or listen to a lecture/explanation.
While it is important for teachers to differentiate their instruction there are some instructional issues that may be encountered. Some of the issues that may transpire is not having enough time to effectively reach each group. Making plans that list each individual’s goals and levels of growth, so that they may continue to move forward in their learning. Also, it is important to reach each student’s learning style and keep them interested in the lesson. Some lessons may seem boring, but the teacher has to try top spark the student’s interest. Having a very large class size may interfere with differentiating your instruction. It may be several different groups, and the teacher may not be able to effectively reach each group. It also may be difficult to keep up with where every one is. Finally, when differentiating your instruction it is important to watch out for disruptive behavior and students not staying focus on their task at hand. The student to student interaction may get out of hand, but having great classroom management skills would be beneficial in this area.
The lesson will start with the objectives being shown to the class. The objectives will be projected or written on the board so that they are visible at all times. The “dinner menu” activity sheet will be passed out. Students will be placed into groups so that they can complete the “appetizer” portion. Once this is complete, students may return to their individual seats and complete the “main menu” and “side dish” topics. The teacher will be circling the room as this happens to observe and ask questions. When everyone is finished, revisit the objectives. Assess students on their chosen options through authentic assessments.
The dinner menu approach to choice boards will allow for students to participate as a class, on their own, and work on supplemental topics once they have completed the main options. The appetizer section allows for group work. The main menu section allows students to pick a main idea topic to learn. The side dish option adds two more additional topics that usually are supported by the main menu option. Lastly, if there is still time remaining students can pick a desert topic. This will allow for supplemental work to be done if the students are completely finished with their main work.
Kathryn Atkins, Kejuana Arrington,
and Katrina Shy
Dr. Sylvia Hill
May 12, 2014
Differentiated instruction is an approach that helps
teachers adjust their curriculum and instruction to
maximize the learning and learning opportunities for all
students, regardless of their learning needs or ability
level. Differentiated instruction, however, is not a single
strategy but, rather, a framework that teachers can use
to implement a variety of strategies, many of which are
Using effective classroom management
Grouping students for instruction
Assessing student readiness
Teaching to the student’s zone of proximal
development the point just beyond which a
student can complete an instructional task
Using choice boards allows students to make
their own decisions about meeting
requirements. The teacher prepares an
organizer, like a folder, which has different
activities for the students to complete. A
choice board in a science classroom might
contain a list of activities they can complete to
learn about air pollution.
Choice Boards Cont.
Research air pollution in your city. Write one
paragraph detailing what contributes to the air
pollution and ways to fix this.
Choose three ways to help air pollution
decrease. Compare and contrast in a chart.
Find three articles about air pollution in the
United States. Write a short summary of each
Teachers who use flexible grouping will
have students work in different groups.
Students can be grouped according to
specific goals for each student,
individual skills, or activities that each
student will be completing. Groups can
be teacher-led or student led.
Flexible Grouping Cont.
• In the math classroom, after learning about
multiplying and dividing fractions, groups can be
assigned based on understanding of the
concept. A student who can help students who
do not understand can be assigned to each
FOSS (Full Option
The Full Option Science System (FOSS) has
evolved from a philosophy of teaching and
learning at the Lawrence Hall of Science that has
guided the development of successful active-
learning science curricula for more than 40 years
Bridges research and practice by providing tools
and strategies to engage students
Leeds to a deeper understanding of material
Created specifically to provide students and
teachers with meaningful learning experiences
through participation in scientific practices
In these lessons, each student has the same
materials and objectives, but they may reach
these objectives in different ways. You must first
determine what the students already know before
you can assign the correct lesson assignments to
In a science classroom tiered instruction may
include students using the internet or textbook to
research certain plants. Other students may listen
to a teacher lecture on plants. Further, additional
students may walk around the school grounds to
see what kind of plants are on campus.
In a math classroom, tiered instruction can
Keeping student’s interest
Developing each student individually
Dealing with large class sizes
Managing classroom behavior
Plan Outline for Choice
Boards• Lesson plan title
- What’s on the menu?
• Practice/active learning
- Revisit objectives
- Authentic assessment
Students will be given a “dinner menu”
•The menu will contain four parts:
1.Appetizer-everyone participates in a single
2.Main menu- pick one topic
3.Side dish- pick two topics
4.Desert- optional if there is time
Edutopia.(2014).Differentiated Instruction allows
students to succeed. Retrieved from
FOSS. (2014). Retrieved from http://