Examples of ways to differentiate instruction
TeachersFirst's Thinking Teachers who write our resource reviews often have suggestions that have worked in their classrooms. Open the reviews to the "more" view to see ideas for using specific resources as tools to differentiate for a variety of learners. Alternatively, use the keyword search tool at the left of this page to search for a curriculum topic and the term "differentiate." For example, search fractions differentiate (with "all the words" selected for the search).
Grades2 to 5
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Use this site to differentiate for students of all levels. Have students complete the recording sheet with an activity to use as an assessment or accountability piece. Include a link to the site on your classroom website or blog for students to practice at home.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this site to differentiate for students of all levels by allowing students to create their own worksheet for practice or review. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center - students can then create their own individualized practice.
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In the ClassroomThe articles are short and interesting, a perfect match for non-fiction reading comprehension. With so many different activities to choose from, it will be easy for the classroom teacher to differentiate. There is an mp3 audio version of each article so students can listen as they read. Assign small groups of students to present the news each week, using the interactive whiteboard to show others the country and city from which the article originated. Make the newscasting experience even more real by having students read scripts of these news stories or their own original stories using a Easyprompter, reviewed here. Students can then go to another news source such as "Mapeas" (reviewed here) and click on the country of origin to see what else is happening in the news there. For a project, have the small groups create a "talking map" using a site such as Woices (beta) (reviewed here). This site allows students to create audio recordings AND choose a location (where their article/story took place). What a fabulous way to share the article with the rest of the class!
Grades5 to 9
tag(s): percent (81)
In the ClassroomHave students try out this site on individual computers, or as a learning center. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Share this link on your class website for students to access at home. This site offers multiple modes of use, so it is easy to differentiate for ability levels within your class.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this in basic astronomy courses or introductions to show students different galaxies. A great idea to start students thinking beyond the confines of Earth would be to show an image of another galaxy and have students discuss what a galaxy is. Ask what galaxy is Earth in. Have students save the link and explore as homework, and assign them to come up with two questions that the site provoked. Refer to and discuss questions as you are teaching your astronomy unit, and maybe even use some (or all) of the questions on the exam for that unit.
You may want to select one of the projects that are labeled basic, advanced, challenge, etc. Each level has several topics. Group students and assign them one of the project's topics to explore. Or, to differentiate for your students you can have small groups investigate an entire project at one level, including all topics. Have groups keep any objects they make and take notes about what they learned using a tool such as Quicklyst (reviewed here). Once finished, have them share their part of the project using your interactive whiteboard and projector. Post student notes as links on your teacher website, so all students can benefit from them. Once created, the notes can be used as a study aid for tests and quizzes.
Grades1 to 6
In the ClassroomCreate and print your own worksheets differentiated for students levels or save paper by using the online version. Make a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Create a link on your classroom website or blogs for students to practice at home.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): creativity (119)
In the ClassroomDo more than simply tell your students to "be creative." Try the ideas and practical suggestions on these pages if you ask: How do I help students who struggle with "being creative" in project-based learning? How do I differentiate tools/projects to match students' varied creativity skills? How do I know that more "creative" students are moving forward, challenging their creative thinking and not simply using past "tried and true" ideas, wrapped in a little glitz? How do my students and I talk about the creativity skills they used (or did not use) in making a project?
GradesK to 12
tag(s): social networking (115)
In the ClassroomClick on one of the applications to see a great list of alternatives that may meet your needs or those of your students. Offer this site as a means for students to differentiate and express their understanding of the content in different ways. In a technology class, provide time for groups to explore the variety of options and report on ease of use and features for each. Be sure to check whether the sites listed are blocked by any filters in your school first.
Grades1 to 6
In the ClassroomShare the site with your classroom on your interactive whiteboard or projector to demonstrate how to use the site, then create a link on classroom or computer lab computers for students to use during center time. Create your own class site to personalize games you want students to play. Use this site to differentiate instruction for your struggling and highly capable students. Rather than using your personal email account, create a FREE gmail account to use for online registrations. Share this site with parents through your classroom newsletter or website for practice at home.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomMake this site a link on your class web page during a unit on space or all year round. Gifted students and those with a passion for space will find endless discoveries. Include this site as a research source when assigning projects about space or the planets. If you have more able students in upper elementary of middle school, use this site as a differentiated alternative for them to research at a higher level. Inspire students to read in content areas by sharing space-related "current events" articles from this site. These selections would work well on interactive whiteboards for practice using highlighters to find main idea, context clues, and other comprehension skills. If you assign portions of the site to the entire class, you may need to assign "reading buddies" for weaker readers. Challenge students to narrate space image galleries (search for the blog entry on the "New Flickr collection of historical NASA photos") or design and explain their own devices for space exploration on Thinglink, reviewed here.
Grades2 to 4
In the ClassroomMake a shortcut to this site on classroom computers and use it as a center. Use this site to differentiate for students of all levels. Have students complete the recording sheet with an activity to use as an assessment or accountability piece. Include a link to the site on your classroom website or blog for students to practice at home.
Grades1 to 8
In the ClassroomUse these logic puzzles to differentiate for your gifted learners. Project the activities on an interactive whiteboard or projector and use with the whole class as a brain break. Put the website on your class webpage for students to access from home. In addition use the site on your classroom computers and create a learning center during math time. When students finish a puzzle, have them print it and turn it in for a grade.
Grades2 to 12
tag(s): flickr (7)
In the ClassroomTag Galaxy offers an engaging way to introduce new concepts or informally assess prior knowledge in science or social studies on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Search key terms such as "leaf" or "kids" and then narrow that search using additional tags. Introduce this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Then have students explore this site independently or in small groups. Ask students to annotate an image using a tool such as Fine Tuna, (reviewed here). Compare and contrast the tags for two photographs. What traits do they share and determine what tags differentiate them from one another. Compare the traits using a site such as the Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here). Once they understand how tags work, challenge students to generate a list of tags for a species image or location image (a digital picture they have taken or found online), using concepts and terms they have studied.
GradesK to 3
tag(s): puzzles (207)
In the ClassroomShare this site on your interactive whiteboard or projector to introduce new Dolch words or to familiarize students with the rules of the games prior to using them during centers. Be sure to show which areas are ads to avoid. Students can use this site during centers as a review or to differentiate instruction. Have students print out their own Dolch flashcards, cut them up and place them in a plastic bag for those times when they finish their work early. Do not forget to share this useful site with the school reading specialist and ELL/ESL teacher. Another idea: provide this link on your class website for students and parents to access both in and out of the classroom.
Grades3 to 8
In the ClassroomAllow students to read through the reviews to choose literature. After reading the book, have students write their own reviews. Compare and contrast their reviews with the database write-ups. Have students create their own podcasts reviewing the book using a site such as PodOmatic (reviewed here).
Differentiate reading assignments by assigning Book Clubs in accordance with student reading levels. Teachers who use the Book Clubs with classes should check school policies on posting student comments on-line and obtain written parent permission. Be sure to establish class guidelines for safe commenting and comply with school policies for identifying student (initials? first names?).
Utilize the Game Show formats as study tools for test prep. Have students create their own test prep formats and present to the class in a Power Point presentation.
This blog site is a model for many effective reading projects upper elementary and middle school classes can create on their own: video summaries (using a site such as SchoolTube reviewed here), book club blogs, Power Point "Jeopardy" book quizzes, and more. The blog promises to continue adding new projects in the future. Use the examples here to inspire your own students.
GradesK to 12
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In the ClassroomBe sure to know the URL's of the resources you are planning to share or have them open in other tabs to copy/paste. To share you must be able to copy/paste URLs (web addresses). Have older students create their own webmixes, but this resource is best used as a teacher sharing tool for sharing links, RSS feeds, and other resources for students to use in specific projects or as general course links. If shared with the world, the webmix can be viewed by others and is public.
Create a webmix of the most used sites for your class and first demonstrate how the webmix works on a projector or interactive whiteboard if you have special instructions or color coding for its use. Some examples include links to copyright free images, online textbooks, or online tools such as Google Docs, ThingLink, Prezi, and more. Link to teacher web pages, webquests, resource sites for your subject, and any other resource that is helpful for students. Consider creating a login for the whole class to update with suggestions from class members. Use this AS your class website. Color code the tiles on a webmix for younger, non-reader, or ESL/ELL students. For example, color each subject differently from the others. Differentiate by color coding varying levels of skills practice at a classroom computer center or to distinguish homework practice sites from in-class sites. Differentiate difficulty levels using the various colors enabling you to list resources for both your learning support students and gifted students and all in between. Use color to organize tools for different projects or individual students. You may want to share this resource with parents at Back to School Night and the color-coding system for differentiation. This will help parents (and students) find what sites are ideal for their levels. Be sure to link or embed your webmix on a computer center in your room for easy access. Share a review site webmix for parents and students to access at home before tests, as well. Team up with other teachers in your subject/grade to create chapter by chapter webmixes for all your students.
Challenge your gifted students to curate and collaborate on their own webmixes as a curriculum extension activity on topics such as climate change or pros and cons of genetically engineered food. They can use color coding to sort sites by bias (or neutrality) as well as to group subtopics under the overall theme. Use the student-made webmixes with other students to raise the overall level of discussion in your class or as an extra credit challenge. If you embed the webmix in a class wiki, all students can respond with questions and comments for the gifted students to moderate and reply, creating a student-led community of learners.
Grades2 to 8
tag(s): worksheets (61)
In the ClassroomThis is a great site to help students better understand fractions. Use on an interactive whiteboard or projector and fill out the sheets on the board. Print out the worksheets and pair them with manipulatives and create a center. Since the worksheets have different levels, use them to differentiate for students who need extra scaffolding or for students who need extension activities.
GradesK to 12
tag(s): printables (37)
In the ClassroomThis site is a great way to add creativity to your teaching. Make games boards that can be used to review curriculum in any subject area. These games can be used as a center to support your curriculum. These boards aren't just for the teacher, have pairs of students work together to create their own games. Perhaps have them research a topic, then share the information with peers in the form of a game. Then have students exchange games for other pairs to play. This is a great way to differentiate an assignment by providing different versions of a game or having students create their own at an appropriate level of difficulty. For students who need more support, provide partially completed versions for them to "create" the rest from a word bank.
GradesK to 6
Kindersite collaborates with outside institutions to develop educational projects that compile resources, generate new curriculum models, create training materials, and implement teacher-training seminars. Researchers can gather user data from Kindersite that represents varying population sizes, geographical groupings, and languages.
General Tips and Reminders: Some sites originate from the UK, so some of the pronunciations and spellings may differ from those in American English. There is some advertising on the right side of the page. Some links may direct students to sites that also contain advertising. Warn your students to avoid them.
tag(s): literacy (107)
In the ClassroomInvigorate shared reading with Kindersite's songs and stories. View the colorful illustration and text on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Some stories and songs highlight the tracking of words. Other sites provide character voices when you click the text in quotations. The animation will definitely engage everyone even those who wiggle on the carpet. Differentiate computer centers with the "my page" function. Save interactive tasks that target the instructional needs of students. Make a shortcut to the "my page" site collections on classroom computers and use it as a center. Be sure to take advantage of the professional resources Kindersites provides as well. Post a link to this site on your school website for parents to access at home.
Grades1 to 3
tag(s): money (190)