"Note that differentiation relates more to addressing students' different phases of learning from novice to capable to proficient rather than merely providing different activities to different (groups of) students."

—John Hattie, Visible Learning for Teachers

Differentiated Instruction Explained

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Delivery of instruction in the past often followed a "one size fits all" approach. In contrast, differentiation is individually student centred, with a focus on appropriate instructional and assessment tools that are fair, flexible, challenging, and engage students in the curriculum in meaningful ways. Differentiated instruction and assessment connects to all aspects of the PYP - The Learner, Teaching & Learning and Community of Learners.

Differentiated instruction and assessment is a framework or philosophy for effective teaching that involves providing different students with different avenues to learning in terms of: acquiring content; processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability. 

Students vary in culture, socioeconomic status, language, gender, motivation, ability/disability, personal interests and more, and teachers must be aware of these varieties as they plan curriculum. By considering varied learning needs, teachers can develop personalized instruction so that all children in the classroom can learn effectively. Differentiated classrooms have also been described as ones that respond to student variety in readiness levels, interests and learning profiles. It is a classroom that includes all students and can be successful. To do this, a teacher sets different expectations for task completion for students based upon their individual needs.

Teachers can differentiate at least four classroom elements based on student readiness, interest, or learning profile:


Examples of differentiating content at the elementary level include the following:


Examples of differentiating process or activities at the elementary level include the following:


Examples of differentiating products at the elementary level include the following:

Learning Environment [See Community fo Learners to learn more]

Examples of differentiating learning environment at the elementary level include:

Source: What Is Differentiated Instruction? | Reading Rockets

Differentiated Instruction to Support All Learners

Run Time: 4:04 - Apr 10, 2018
Learn more about inclusive education topics, including Valuing All Students; Changing How We Talk about Disabilities; and Using A Positive Behaviour Approach to Support Learning.

The Five Key Aspects of Differentiated Instruction

Run Time: 4:07 - Feb 15, 2016
Carol Ann Tomlinson discuss five key aspects of differentiated instruction

A Differentiated Instruction Educator's Guide

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Source: The Learning Exchange

Elements of Effective Differentiated Instruction

How to Differentiate Learning in Your Schools

[Carol Ann Tomlinson]

Run Time: 1:18:00 - December 2023
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This episode is from Toddle's "School Leadership Project"

In the video "How to differentiate learning in your schools?" Carol Ann Tomlinson emphasizes the vital role of differentiation in fostering inclusive learning environments. With over 50 years in education, she advocates for recognizing each student's unique learning style and challenges the limitations of traditional teaching methods. 

Carol promotes interest-based learning, incorporating student interests in lessons, and stresses the importance of continuous learning for educators. Her insights encourage a shift from a standardized to a personalized, engaging, and inclusive teaching approach, fostering an environment where students advocate for their own learning.

Key Learnings

Learn more about this episode from Toddle's "School Leadership Project"

Q&A: Differentiated Instruction

Run Time: 4:53 - Jul 30, 2013
In this interview, author Carol Ann Tomlinson discusses her work in Differentiated Instruction, how it can be practically applied in the classroom, advice to teachers looking to apply Differentiated Instruction in the classroom and her book Differentiation and the Brain.

Differentiation: Responsive Teaching

Run Time: 3:54 - Oct 5, 2011
Carol Tomlinson presents her definition of Differentiated Instruction. She describes differentiation as "responsive teaching", an approach to instruction that takes into account the needs and strengths of today's diverse student population. 

Differentiation Strategies

Getting Started Using Differentiated Instruction

Run Time: 4:55 - Jul 10, 2012

Differentiated Instruction: It is Not That Hard

Run Time: 4:27 - Sep 11, 2018

Learning and Differentiation

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Source: Unknowen

Differentiation Strategies

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Source: Unknowen

Differentiation Strategies

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Source: Prodigy & Teachthought Articles

Differentiated Strategies

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View the Prodigy Article for more details and examples

Strategies for Differentiated Instruction

Run Time: 8:38 - Nov 30, 2011

15 Differentiated Instructional Strategies

Run Time: 4:17 - Jun 7, 2017

Differentiated Ideas to Use in the Classroom

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The Byrdseed website is chalk full of differentiated learning challenges that will get all students thinking and spark their curiosity. I especially love the Puzzlements section which will peak your student's curiosity. You can even have 5 puzzlements sent to your email in box each week which could be posted each morning as your student arrive. Also have a look at:

50 Strategies for Differentiated Instruction

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Also see: Tools/Strategies that can be used to support differentiate instruction

Instructional Resources

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