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).

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Save the Apples - PlayKidsGames

1 to 5

This math practice game is sure to excite your students. The challenge is to help a monkey swing on a vine across the water (and keep the apples from the ...more
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This math practice game is sure to excite your students. The challenge is to help a monkey swing on a vine across the water (and keep the apples from the crocodile). The best aspect of this game (besides the entertainment of the monkey), is that you can choose addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division. You can also choose the difficulty level (easy, medium, or hard) to differentiate student practice levels. This website requires FLASH. You can get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): addition (227), division (161), multiplication (212), subtraction (187), vision (79)

In the Classroom

What a wonderful tool to use to differentiate your lessons to meet the needs of your struggling students and your gifted students. Why not have the students work on individual computers and use the operation that they are currently learning (addition, subtraction, multiplication, or division). And then have them work at their own individual difficulty level. If this isn't practical in your classroom, using this as a learning center on your class computer would also be beneficial. You WILL want to turn off the annoying sound!

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Mrs. Cassidy's Web Page - Numbers - Mrs. Cassidy

K to 3

This educational website was created by a Canadian primary teacher. It offers links to numerous practical activities on the topic of "numbers." Most are interactive and all have educational...more
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This educational website was created by a Canadian primary teacher. It offers links to numerous practical activities on the topic of "numbers." Most are interactive and all have educational value. Specific number topics include foundations, counting, addition, subtraction, fractions, and place value. Many of these activities require FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.. Don't miss out on this rare find.

tag(s): addition (227), counting (113), fractions (229), numbers (197), place value (56), subtraction (187)

In the Classroom

What excellent choices to use as a learning center. This program allows the teacher to differentiate instruction (based on the current levels of your students). Each activity has several levels of difficulties. Mrs. Cassidy has also included a color-coded guide to help teachers determine which activities are easy, medium, hard, and very hard.

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Animal Lost and Found - PBS

K to 1

This age-appropriate math activity challenges young students to identify various pets based on a set of criteria. The list of criteria requires students to count eyes, ears, mouths,...more
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This age-appropriate math activity challenges young students to identify various pets based on a set of criteria. The list of criteria requires students to count eyes, ears, mouths, and other body parts. There are two difficulty levels, which allows teachers to differentiate the instruction for less or more advanced students in a primary class. This website requires FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): classification (25), counting (113), preK (290)

In the Classroom

One concern: non-readers will not be able to READ the criteria. The game is intended for sharing with at least one reader (child or adult). This website could be incorporated in many ways: First, use an interactive whiteboard and include the entire class, asking them to raise their hands or use clickers to vote on whether you have "found" the pet as someone reads the criteria aloud. Second, you could use this website as a learning center for cooperative groups (including a reader)to investigate together. Third, you could differentiate the instruction by having students work on their own laptops (or in the computer lab). Turn off the irritating sound with the little speaker icon.

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The Search for Monsters of Mystery - National Geographic Kids

3 to 8
Terrifically "scary," this website thrills students with information about various monsters. Students learn the geographic location and numerous facts about several famous "monsters"....more
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Terrifically "scary," this website thrills students with information about various monsters. Students learn the geographic location and numerous facts about several famous "monsters". The fascinating study includes Bigfoot, Nessie, Storsie, Yeti, Champ, and Mokele-Mbembe. Note: Some of the information on the monsters comes up in pop-ups. Turn off any pop-up blockers (this would include those that work as part of the Google or Yahoo toolbar).

tag(s): halloween (39), holidays (141)

In the Classroom

Use this website as a starting point for researching the history of famous monsters. This is a great way to teach about fact vs fiction and the information literacy skill of evaluating web site reliability, using a topic that students will love. After they collect facts, have a monster "trial" in your classroom "courthouse" where two teams try to prove that each monster is FACT or FICTION, using "evidence" from this site and further research. Differentiate the tasks by assigning some of your brighter students to conduct the questioning (and perhaps challenge the web sources). Then have a the class-member "jury" reach a verdict: Fact or Fiction?

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Fractions - BGFL

1 to 5
This is a fabulous website for all levels of fraction instruction (there are five difficulty levels). The website offers both interactive challenges and printable worksheets. Students...more
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This is a fabulous website for all levels of fraction instruction (there are five difficulty levels). The website offers both interactive challenges and printable worksheets. Students will love the pizza fun and other graphics used at this website - check it out. Level 2 is a TERRIFIC way to help students read fraction markings on a ruler, always a challenge for some. Some of the activities require Flash, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): fractions (229)

In the Classroom

Use an interactive whiteboard to introduce this activity. Then differentiate the instruction and allow students to work on their own computers at their own levels. For more instructions on how to use this website, visit the "support materials" link.

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Calculation Balance - WMnet

1 to 4
Find a downloadable Flash activity on this page from the WMnet site. This mathematical balance activity has a super hero who challenges students to balance the scales by answering math...more
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Find a downloadable Flash activity on this page from the WMnet site. This mathematical balance activity has a super hero who challenges students to balance the scales by answering math questions. The topics include addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, and words as numbers. The website offers a variety of difficulty levels and can easily be differentiated to meet the various ability levels of your students.

tag(s): addition (227), division (161), multiplication (212), numbers (197), subtraction (187), vision (79)

In the Classroom

This website would work perfectly as an individual activity (differentiate the activities to the various levels of your students). If you prefer a group activity, get out the interactive whiteboard and treat your students to this engaging activity. Each challenge is only a few questions and could easily be incorporated into your daily math lessons. Add this as a warm-up or as part of your closure for a skill lesson.

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Maths Zone - Woodlands Junior School

2 to 6

This comprehensive math site provides countless math activities (nearly all interactive). Topics vary from basic number skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division),...more
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This comprehensive math site provides countless math activities (nearly all interactive). Topics vary from basic number skills (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division), to shapes and space skills, to data and probability, to measurement skills, and even math investigations. There are worksheets to print. There are also interactive activities to use with an interactive whiteboard or individual computers. Some of the activities require FLASH, get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page..

tag(s): angles (88), charts and graphs (198), decimals (125), fractions (229), mean (26), median (23), mode (16), money (186), percent (81), probability (141), time (141)

In the Classroom

Use an interactive whiteboard to introduce your class to this site's activities. Then differentiate your math lessons by allowing students to work independently on the math skills they are currently acquiring. Even if you have only a single classroom computer, you can provide practice and challenge at all levels. This is also a wonderful site to share as a link from your teacher home page or in your classroom newsletter.

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Protopage - Protopage

K to 12

This online tool creates a highly visual "home page" that can incorporate multiple elements simply by dragging and dropping them in place. Not unlike Google's personalized homepage,...more
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This online tool creates a highly visual "home page" that can incorporate multiple elements simply by dragging and dropping them in place. Not unlike Google's personalized homepage, the elements look like little sticky notes or boxes, but there is far greater flexibility and a wider variety of content readily available. You can also make the page local (simply use it as the "home" on your classroom computer), shared by a select group (passworded), or completely public. You can easily make a theme or unit page for quick access of resources, complete with directions.

tag(s): resources (106)

In the Classroom

How would you use this in your teaching? Create a set of RSS feeds for current events or a specific curriculum topic such as weather and make them available for an in-class activity, complete with directions. World language, world cultures, or geography teachers can profile a location on the globe, complete with local weather and news. Make separate tabs for separate activities. Students can access them by password or publicly from outside of class, as well. For primary grades, make simple instructions right on the desktop for a computer center activity. Use color coding of the instructions to differentiate for different children (Sam, I want you to do the yellow one). If your school permits students to set up accounts on web services, have groups make Protopages on an assigned topic, collecting and organizing resources, images, and information: "A Protopage Guide to Cells" or "Shakespeare's Times." Gifted and highly-able students will go crazy!

Skills needed: Join (free). Check out the Intro, Overview, and Quickstart to see how it works. Play to your heart's content, including making tabs. Learn about RSS feeds and other Widgets-- including sticky notes. Share the URL with those you wish to have use it. Note: this works on Internet Explorer 6 and higher and on Firefox. If your users are on older web browsers, the developers recommend upgrading. This may be a problem for some. Check with your end-user computers before you spend too much time making the perfect Protopage!

If you allow students to create their own Protopage, you will need to have very specific rules about content, since there are non-educational elements available.

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Photojournalism Tiered Lesson Plan - Leigha Tracey

10 to 12

This website presents a lesson in which students explore how photographs can be interpreted as conveying rich stories to the beholder. The lesson presumes that the students are familiar...more
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This website presents a lesson in which students explore how photographs can be interpreted as conveying rich stories to the beholder. The lesson presumes that the students are familiar with journalism and photocomposition and is set up according to Bloom's Taxonomy. While one lesson is presented, its advantage is the structure it gives to the teacher who has ideas on how to teach students to incorporate photos into their work. For ideal lesson purposes, it also presents the logical Bloom's progression which is particularly helpful to new teachers.

tag(s): journalism (54)

In the Classroom

To take full advantage of this lesson, expand it into choosing photos off the web from news stories or from Flickr. (See the TeachersFirst Edge explanation of Flickr). You might even preview some sites and have pairs of students access them and categorize them by analysis. This would enable you to tailor the lesson to any literature you were working with from: Shakespeare to Hemingway to Grisham.

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Thinking Blocks - thinkingblocks.com

3 to 8

Help your students to uncomplicated the intricate world of algebra. This engaging and interactive math website is sure to challenge, educate and entertain your students. Thinking...more
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Help your students to uncomplicated the intricate world of algebra. This engaging and interactive math website is sure to challenge, educate and entertain your students. Thinking Blocks presents students with video tutorials, interactive activities, virtual tutors, and more. Topic choices include addition/subtraction, multiplication/division and ratio word problems. Blocks are used to represent numbers within the math problem. Students are guided step-by-step as they solve the multi-step problems. Each lesson includes only eight questions, so they could easily be completed during one regular class period. There are six lessons in each of the mathematical areas. FLASH is required for some of the activities.

tag(s): addition (227), division (161), multiplication (212), ratios (63), subtraction (187), vision (79)

In the Classroom

Try an interactive whiteboard and treat your students to this challenging math activity. If you are able to use a lab or laptops, differentiate your instruction and allow the students to work on skills at their own levels. Each of the three "topic" sets has six lessons.

After you use it in class, include this site on your teacher web page for students to practice prior to your test or the "big one."

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The Digit Workout - Crick Web

1 to 5

This timed math challenge provides the students with 10 questions to practice basic math facts. There are six levels - single digit addition up to 20, single digit subtraction ...more
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This timed math challenge provides the students with 10 questions to practice basic math facts. There are six levels - single digit addition up to 20, single digit subtraction up to 20, double digit addition up to 100, double digit subtraction up to 100, multiples of 5 and multiples of 10. This site requires FLASH. If you see a blank screen, download the Flash plugin from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): addition (227), multiplication (212), subtraction (187)

In the Classroom

Use this site to help to differentiate instruction in math class! Allow students to practice individually on computers by taking turns on one of the classroom computers or using laptops. Another useful tip: students need to click on the answer blank each time before typing in their answer. The TeachersFirst editors did catch a typo or two in the text ("mutliplication"), but the game itself works well.

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Compare Numbers - Crick Web

1 to 4

There are 3 levels of difficulty in this multifaceted activity (numbers up to 100, 1000 and 10000). Students are asked to "click and drag" either the less-than, greater-than or ...more
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There are 3 levels of difficulty in this multifaceted activity (numbers up to 100, 1000 and 10000). Students are asked to "click and drag" either the less-than, greater-than or equal sign to correctly answer the question. This game requires Flash. If you see a blank screen, download the Flash plugin from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): numbers (197)

In the Classroom

This tool could be used to differentiate instruction (there are three levels of difficulty). Allow students to try it as a classroom center, on laptops, or even on a whiteboard.

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Math General Flashcards - Education 4 Kids

K to 5
This math website contains four interactive and individualized activities. At the "Flashcard" link, the teacher can create individualized flashcards using addition, subtraction, multiplication,...more
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This math website contains four interactive and individualized activities. At the "Flashcard" link, the teacher can create individualized flashcards using addition, subtraction, multiplication, division or a mix of operations. The "Early Math" link is created especially for students in Kindergarten and first grade. The concepts include more/less and biggest/smallest. The "Math Square" link is a logic puzzle that can be individualized to three difficulty levels. The "Math Tables" link creates an interactive table utilizing addition, subtraction or multiplication.

tag(s): logic (247)

In the Classroom

Try an interactive whiteboard to introduce these drill and practice activities to challenge your class, then include the link on your teacher web page or as a shortcut on a classroom computer for students to access individually. Be sure to tell parents about it, too. Take the students to the computer lab or assign different tasks at a classroom center to differentiate the instruction and allow the students to work at their individual levels. Note: very Young students may need help reading the directions to access the correct game.

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2 to 6
This useful website provides teachers with over 50 interactive mathematical activities. All activities require FLASH. The activities include fractions, decimals, estimation, rounding...more
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This useful website provides teachers with over 50 interactive mathematical activities. All activities require FLASH. The activities include fractions, decimals, estimation, rounding and money. There are also links to "kid-friendly" instructions for each operation. There are graphics used to help explain the concepts.

tag(s): decimals (125), estimation (48), fractions (229), money (186), rounding (19)

In the Classroom

Teachers could use the activities at this website to differentiate mathematical instruction. Teachers do not need to search the site for activities; the specific topics are already listed with each activity, so the site is extremely easy to use. Be sure to include this one on your teacher web page for students to use as a review tool.

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NumberNut - Basic - Andrew Rader Studios

K to 5
This very useful website provides over 100 mathematical activities. The specific skills required are listed with each activity. The general mathematical areas include shapes, colors,...more
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This very useful website provides over 100 mathematical activities. The specific skills required are listed with each activity. The general mathematical areas include shapes, colors, numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, dates and times. All activities require FLASH.

tag(s): addition (227), colors (77), division (161), multiplication (212), numbers (197), subtraction (187), vision (79)

In the Classroom

There are activities at this site for all elementary math levels. This site would be great to differentiate instruction. Or the teacher can involve the entire class by using an interactive whiteboard. Keep this link on your teacher web page for students to use outside of class for review.

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Wash Line 1 - Crick Web

K to 2

This game challenges students to put numerals in the correct order. There are options of numbers 1-5, even numbers to 10, odd numbers to 10 or random selection up ...more
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This game challenges students to put numerals in the correct order. There are options of numbers 1-5, even numbers to 10, odd numbers to 10 or random selection up to 20. The numbers are printed on t-shirts which need hung up on a wash line in the correct order. This site requires FLASH.

tag(s): counting (113), sequencing (29)

In the Classroom

Use this tool to differentiate instruction and meet the educational needs of your students. If you see a blank screen, download the Flash plugin from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

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K to 12
Adapt your existing lesson plans using these simple strategies to help ESL students. Click on the activity type you have planned and find suggestions and resources to help your ESL/ELL...more
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Adapt your existing lesson plans using these simple strategies to help ESL students. Click on the activity type you have planned and find suggestions and resources to help your ESL/ELL students be successful with the lesson. Some of the same strategies may help with students with IEPs for speech and language or learning support.

tag(s): teaching strategies (26)

In the Classroom

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World News in Special English - VOA

4 to 8

VOA offers audio and written radio scripts of a wide range of news stories in areas including science, agriculture, culture, health, and education. The language used is simple, and...more
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VOA offers audio and written radio scripts of a wide range of news stories in areas including science, agriculture, culture, health, and education. The language used is simple, and the stories are read more slowly than the average radio broadcast. The site includes its own dictionary ("Word Book") and pronunciation guide, as well as links to many other features. Contains RealAudio and MP3 downloadable audio files. If you have high speed internet, you can also use the streaming option.

tag(s): agriculture (60), news (260)

In the Classroom

Use this simplified news site to help students improve listening skills and vocabulary while learning about current events. This is an easy way to differentiate for students who process information more slowly as English language learners or for other reasons.

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World Geography Quizzes - Sheppard Software

3 to 12
With such poor results as a nation on geography testing, we all should try these geography games to build student knowledge of U.S. and world geography. Students can click on ...more
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With such poor results as a nation on geography testing, we all should try these geography games to build student knowledge of U.S. and world geography. Students can click on the region of the world and practice at different levels of difficulty. Even adults can find a challenge. Offered in a "dial up version" for those accessing the sites from a slower connection. Note: the non-dial-up pages require FLASH. Get it from the TeachersFirst Toolbox page.

tag(s): capitals (24), continents (51), countries (81), maps (298)

In the Classroom

Be sure to put a link for these online games and quizzes on your teacher web page for the summer and throughout the school year. Students can use them to practice for your geography quizzes or as extra challenges. The different levels of dificulty will allow you to differentiate your instruction easily.

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Exercise Central - Bedford/St. Martin's

6 to 12
It's not the kind of "exercise" you might expect, but if you're looking for a resource that can strengthen and tone your students' grammar and writing skills, you've come to ...more
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It's not the kind of "exercise" you might expect, but if you're looking for a resource that can strengthen and tone your students' grammar and writing skills, you've come to the "write" place! Browse the many activities that focus on grammar concepts, punctuation, writing style, and editing. To use all of the site's many interactive features, you must complete a free registration. Also includes a nice collection of practice exercises for ESL students.

tag(s): editing (72), grammar (210), punctuation (44)

In the Classroom

This might be a viable option for formative assessment in your language arts classroom. Use the resources on this site to test student knowledge before beginning a grammar unit, then differentiate your instruction based on the results.