What is differentiation in teaching?

Differentiated teaching is where educators use a range of methods to extend the knowledge and skills of every student in every class. This is regardless of their starting point. Differentiation aims to raise the performance level of every student.

Key features of differentiation in teaching

The purpose of differentiation is to cater to all students, whether they are working toward grade level, at grade level or above grade level. Thoughtful differentiated teaching provides an appropriate level of challenge for all students in a class or lecture setting.

It does this by:

  • Considering differences in student readiness and interest
  • Taking each student’s learning profile into account
  • Using formative assessment to monitor progress towards and beyond student learning goals
  • Implementing a range of teaching strategies that support varying abilities and learning styles
  • Using open-ended tasks to facilitate students working at different levels and at their own pace

You can meet students where they are modifying:

  • How you teach, including the language and terms used
  • The types of activities undertaken by students (including success measures)
  • How you explain a topic or concept
  • The types of examples and analogies you use

Why use differentiation in your teaching?

Effective differentiation lifts the performance of all students

This means improved performance and outcomes for those students who are falling behind, as well as those ahead of grade-level expectations.

To help students master objectives

By planning lessons that incorporate adjustments for content, process and product, you can effectively help your students master a range of skills and learning objectives.

Use interactive videos for effective differentiated teaching

Use a common interactive as a prelearning diagnostic tool. This activity can help you plan for differentiated learning for particular students or aspects of a new unit, concept or skill. You can then make different sets of interactives for a single video, targeting them to various students. Printing the interactives as worksheets can help a broader range of students access the material.

Learn more about interactive videos
Teaching Strategies: Differentiated Teaching

Discover 3 more differentiated teaching strategies

  1. Videos

    You can provide multiple videos that demonstrate a concept or topic from different angles to tap into different students’ learning styles. Transcripts and closed captions are also available for many videos to cater to Deaf and Hard of Hearing students and English language learners.

  2. Playlists

    Targeted playlists allow you to set content for different groups of students dependent on their capabilities. Create a playlist for core material, with supplementary material to extend or remediate students as needed.

  3. Student access

    Students can record their own content, which may assist those with significant anxiety around public speaking. They can complete oral tasks at their own comfort level. Students who miss lessons due to absence or school activities can easily catch up on content in their own time.