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Differentiation refers to the responses that teachers make to learners’ needs. Effective differentiation functions on the premise that every student can do remarkable things with the appropriate guidance and support.

There are four types of classroom elements These include content process product and learning environment which can all be differentiated by teachers according to the readiness and interests and learning profile of students

Teachers are ‘differentiating’ when they:

Effective differentiation doesn't provide excuses or easy ways out, for example, teachers are not differentiating when they ‘water down’ the curriculum for students.

Teachers can differentiate through a range of instructional and management strategies. This includes classroom elements (content, process, product and learning environment) in relation to student needs (readiness, interest and learning profile).

Teachers can differentiate according to student characteristics

In its truest sense, teaching is not finished until learning occurs – for each learner. Teaching without learning is an oxymoron. Tomlinson, 2006

Key principles

There are a number of guiding principles that reflect effective practice in a differentiated classroom, including flexibility, respect and collaboration..

The key principles are:

Note: it is not necessary to differentiate everything all of the time.

A flexible classroom

Flexibility is at the heart of differentiation and the teacher is continually looking for ways to modify classroom elements to make learning as effective as possible for the greatest number of students..

Those elements may include time, space, groupings, materials, modes of presentation, modes of investigation, resources and instructional strategies.

Flexibility involves the teacher searching for solutions to the inevitable problems and tensions that arise when teaching complex content to a variety of students.

Assessment and instruction are inseperable

Student differences are expected, appreciated and studied as a basis for instructional planning..

All students participate in respectful work

The teacher's goal.

The teacher’s goal is that each student finds their work challenging and interesting, and grapples squarely with the knowledge and skills which give them the power to understand, apply and progress to the next learning stage, most of the time.

Differentiation does not presume different tasks for each student, but rather just enough flexibility in task complexity, working arrangements and modes of learning expression that varied students find learning a good fit much of the time.

Students and teachers are collaborators in learning

Students need guidance in becoming self-guided learners..

Classrooms are more effective and inviting when responsibility for their operation is shared by all members of the learning community.

Students hold pivotal information about their likes and preferred ways of learning.

Students can learn to make choices that enhance both their learning and their status as a learner.

Flexible student grouping options

Various student groupings are possible, and sometimes students:.

The teacher defines essentials

The teacher is clear about what matters in the subject matter, and:.

The teacher modifies content

The teacher modifies content, process and products in response to student readiness, interest and learning profile..

This is done by providing opportunities so students can work with content and products in sense-making learning experiences that are responsive to the students' readiness, needs, interests and best modes of learning.

In doing this, teachers maximise the opportunities for success for each learner.

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Differentiated Learning: The 21st Century Pedagogical Strategy Teachers Should Adopt


Many parents and teachers fall into the temptation to compare a child’s academic performance or experience with another child without understanding how children differ in their emotional, physical, and psychological development.

What Is Differentiated Learning?

Differentiated learning is an instructional technique in which teachers employ a variety of teaching methods to individually meet the needs of each student according to their needs.

Before introducing a course to a class, it is important to note that some students may have a level of knowledge on the subject, while others may have a general understanding of the subject. Conversely, some students may be completely new to the topic.

Finally, in differentiated learning, the learning objectives are the same for the entire class, however, instructional materials, assessments, and delivery methods vary based on the needs of each student.

Methods Of Differentiated Learning

Visual learners easily acquire knowledge through visual representations of topics. On the other hand, auditory learners understand topics better when listening to audiobooks or teachers. 

In order to determine the appropriate teaching process or curriculum for each child, teachers must understand students’ interests, abilities, and knowledge levels.

3. Products

For example, a good way to test kinesthetic learners is through practical assessments, whereas auditory learners will do well through verbal assessments.

4. Learning Environment

Finally, environmental factors such as lighting, classroom atmosphere, class size, board settings, etc. all contribute to the level of student performance.

Advantages Of Differentiated Learning

1. equal growth for all students, 2. better academic performance, 3. fun and immersive learning.

When teachers adopt a series of instructional strategies that align with students of any type, they would find learning easy and fun.

4. Personalized Learning

More so, the content and instructional materials include audio format, videos, and practicals in a bid to ensure personalized learning for every student.

Disadvantages Of Differentiated Learning

1. time factor, 2. high pressure, 3. high cost.

Additionally, they must provide materials for each topic. Clearly, this will require ongoing financial support that many schools may not be able to meet.

Examples Of Differentiated Learning

1. differentiated learning strategies for math, 2. differentiated instruction strategies for reading, 3. differentiated learning strategies for writing, how to enhance differentiated learning, 1. conduct pre-assessments and ongoing assessments.

On the other hand, continuous or ongoing assessment helps teachers to understand the progress of students after each stage of learning. 

2. Hire teaching assistants

3. encourage parents to participate in their child’s learning process.

Therefore, sharing their perspectives with teachers can go a long way in helping teachers understand these children so they can develop the right strategies to improve their performance.

Is differentiated learning effective?

Is differentiated learning the same as differentiated instruction, what are examples of differentiated learning.

Examples of differentiated learning include using a tiered assignment approach where a group of students writes a report on what they read while some give a visual story highlight of what they understand from a passage.

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  1. PDF What Is Differentiated Instruction and Why Differentiate?

    In the video Creating Multiple Paths for Learning (1997), Carol Ann Tomlinson, noted differentiation expert, says that differentiating instruction means that the teacher anticipates the differences in students' readiness, interests, and learning profiles and, as a result, creates different learning paths so that students have the opportunity to

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    Teachers can differentiate content, process, product and the learning environment according to the student characteristics of readiness, interests and learning profile. In its truest sense, teaching is not finished until learning occurs - for each learner. Teaching without learning is an oxymoron. Tomlinson, 2006 Key principles

  3. PDF Differentiated Instruction: Understanding and Applying Interactive

    All these require differentiation of the curriculum in effect. For all the learners who have learning difficulties, differentiation is seen as their instructors' responsibility (Vellutino, F.R., Scanclon, D. M., Small, S., & Fanuele, D.P., 2006). There is abundant information on differentiated instruction which instructors may access

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    what differentiated instruction is, why it is essential for all learners, how to begin to plan for it, and how to become comfortable enough with student differences to make school comfortable for each and every student.

  6. PDF Handout 1: Strategies for Differentiating Instruction

    Differentiation of content refers to a change in the material being learned by the student. For example, if the classroom objective is for all students to write persuasive paragraphs, some of the students may be learning to use a topic sentence and supporting details, while others may be learning to use outside sources to defend their viewpoint.

  7. PDF Chapter 4: Differentiation in the Multilevel Classroom

    differentiating learning tasks and expectations, differentiating materials and resources, and organizing and managing the classroom for differentiation. Differentiating Learning Tasks and Expectations Due to the wide range of learners in the multilevel classroom, learning tasks are generally open-ended and have a continuum of expectations.

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    Differentiated learning is an instructional technique in which teachers employ a variety of teaching methods to individually meet the needs of each student according to their needs. These needs may be existing knowledge, learning style, interest, and understanding of the subject.

  11. PDF Differentiated instruction: A research basis

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    Differentiated instruction has been a ―buzz phrase‖ in American education for many years. Much of what has been written in support of the practice was created in the 1990's. Bearne (1996) defines differentiation as an approach to teaching in which teachers proactively modify curricula, teaching methods, resources, learning activities,

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    learning profile or interests) and ability-based groups to best support learning. Students grouped well with appropriate materials and scaffolds, can learn from each other. Small group instruction is an excellent teaching strategy to advance student learning. Differentiation and student agency Students can become agents in their own learning when

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    of differentiated instruction & the multicultural learning environment Use smaller teams that consist of diverse members, i.e. one female, one minority, an older or younger learner, maybe a disabled learner with able learners, etc. Small group instruction that incorporates sharing previous experience and discussion amongst learners

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    familiar with the concept of differentiated instruction because of the highly diverse learning characteristics displayed by the students in general education classrooms today (Bender, 2008; Bender & Waller, 2011b). Since Tomlinson wrote the initial book on differentiated instruction in 1999, teachers across the

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    fThe core of differentiated instruction is flexibility in content, process, and product based. on students strengths, needs, and learning styles. Content is what students are to master or learn. from the instruction; process is how the students must complete the learning content; and product.