Teaching the Lessons

Six Rules of Differentiating

1.) Students should always be grouped based on their needs and abilities.

  • It is: Sometimes whole class, sometimes small group, and sometimes individual.
  • It is NOT: Individualized instruction at 20 - 30 levels.

2.) Student work should always measure a specific learning outcome explicitly taught in class.

  • It is: Responsive to the learning outcome of the lesson.
  • It is not: Busy work or separated from intentional instruction.

3.) Students' needs and abilities change over time and therefore groupings should reflect that change.

  • It is: Flexible groupings that change based on student abilities.
  • It is not: Static groupings that stay the same throughout the year.

4.) Students' work should be done at their level.

  • It is: Qualitative student work.
  • It is not: Quantitative student work in which some students do more and some do less.

5.) Decisions about differentiation should be based on assessment and anecdotal evidence of students' needs and abilities.

  • It is: Using assessments to identify students' strengths and weaknesses.
  • It is not: Using assessments as a pass or fail approach.

6.) True, responsive differentiation will not look the same in each lesson.

  • It is: Sometimes necessary to change the student independent practice, other time requires changing how the lesson is taught, and other times it will require changing the text of the lesson.
  • It is not: The same differentiation plan for every lesson.