Annotated List Of Differentiation Strategies | Happy Student Education ™

Annotated List of Differentiation Strategies

Article Category Schools | Teachers
Happy Student Education
Published January 26, 2023

Differentiation Strategies

Our curated, and Annotated List of Differentiation Strategies 

  • Anchor Activities (Sponge Activities): Tasks for students to work on independently after assigned work is completed at a high level of quality. Tasks that a portion of the class can be working on when the other part of the class is meeting with the teacher to “sponge” up time without wasting instructional time. (G: pgs. 8.6 & 87, T: pg. 35) 
  • Bloom’s Taxonomy: A model to facilitate higher level thinking skills. (G: pgs. 10 & 11, H: pgs. 68 & 69, K: pg. 32, W: pg. 133) 
  • Centers (see Stations): Areas in the classroom containing collections of activities and/or materials designed to reinforce, or extend certain skills or concepts, or to motivate students to explore topics of interest. (G: pgs. 105-119, H: pgs. 107-111, K: pgs. 18-21, T: pg. 103)
  • Choice Boards (Product Options): Students select from assignments that are placed in pockets and changed as necessary. Teachers can target student need and readiness by directing them to select from a certain row. (K: pgs. 123 & 124, 167-170) 
  • Compacting: A three-stage process where teachers assess students prior to teaching a unit or skill to determine what the student does know, does not know, and what alternate experiences will replace those activities already mastered. (G: pgs. 63-66, H: pgs. 138 & 142, T: pgs. 74 & 75, W: pgs. 32-34) 
  • Cubing (Q-Matrix): An interactive technique for considering a subject from six points of views. Cubing can also help students think at different levels of the taxonomy. Cubes can also be constructed with tasks in a particular area of the multiple intelligences. (G: pgs. 9-15, K: 156 & 157, T: pgs. 80-82,) 
  • Flexible Grouping: Temporarily grouping students by interest, achievement level (readiness), learning profile, activity preference, or special needs. (G: pgs. 70-78, H: pgs. 85-90, T: pg. 102, W: pg. 33  T.A.P.S. = Total, Alone, Partner, Small Group (G: pg. 71, K: pg. 18, 50 & 51, 56-64) 
  • Graphic Organizers: A thinking tool that allows students to organize information and see their thinking. A visual representation of facts and/or concepts. (G: pgs. 87-91, K: pgs. 118 & 119, ) 
  • Group Investigations (Interest Groups & Interest Inventory): Students are introduced to topics related to something being studied in class and grouped by interests, then are guided through the investigation of a topic with teacher support. (G: pg. 73, K: pgs. 62, 87 & 88, T: pgs. S8 & 59, 100, W: pgs. 146 & 147) 
  • Independent Study (see Learning Contracts): Allows students to pursue questions or topics of interest, or develop talent in certain areas with set goals and criteria agreed upon by both student and teacher. (G: pgs. 129-133, K: pg. 61 & 62, 83-86, T: pg. 106, W: pgs. 73-77, 164-168) 
  • Jigsaw: A cooperative strategy where students work with peers who study one fact of a topic and then return to a “home-base” group for sharing what they have learned. (G: pgs. 100-103, T: pg. 59)
  • Learning Contracts (see Independent study): A negotiated agreement between teacher and student which gives students freedom in acquiring knowledge and skills, provides for student choice, delineates working conditions, and establishes what information will be learned and how it will be shared. (G: pgs. 129-133, K: pg. 61 & 62, 83-86, T: pg. 106, W: pgs. 73-77) 
  • Literature Circles: A student led discussion format which allows students to read on topics of interest, or select books of choice, and share readings and ideas with others who read the same materials. Various jobs are assigned to the different group members. (K: pgs. 62 & 63, T:pg. 59) 
  • Menus (see Choice Boards/Product Options): A list of learning and/or product options students may chose from. (K: pgs. 123 & 124, 167-170, T: pg. 89, W: pg. 80) 
  • Multiple Intelligence Options (checklist included): Activities that allow us to recognize and nurture all of the varied human intelligences and learning preferences. (G: pgs. 28-36, H: pgs. 36-51) 
  • Orbital Studies: This strategy encourages students to raise questions of interest related to the curriculum, figure out how to find answers to their questions, and devise ways to share their findings with peers. (T: pg. 58) 
  • Portfolios: Collections of student work to help students set learning goals and evaluate their own growth. (G: pgs. 50 & 51, K: 11, 157 & 158, T: 93 & 94) 
  • Problem Based Learning: Students are presented with an unfamiliar, unclear, complex problem for which they must gather additional information, define the problem, locate and appropriately use resources, make decisions about and communicate a solution, and assess the effectiveness of the solution. (G: pgs. 126-134, K: pgs. 63 & 64) 
  • Socratic Seminar: A discussion format where students share with each other their thoughts on a particular piece from literature, history, current events, issues, or hypothetical situations. (W: pgs. 139 & 143) 
  • Stations (see Centers): Different spots in the classroom where students work with various tasks simultaneously which are linked by a set of concepts and skills. (G: pgs. 105-119, H: pgs. 107-111, K: pgs. 18-21, T: pg. 103) 
  • Think, Pair, Share: A Questioning technique where the students are given a prompt or question. The students are asked to think by themselves, pair with another student, and finally share their ideas with the group. (G: 8 & 9) 
  • Tic-Tac-Toe: A menu or options arranged in a 3 x 3 block grid. Students choose their tasks in a vertical, horizontal, or diagonal line. (Product Choices) (T: pg. 89, W: pg. 80) 
  • Tiered Assignments: Changing the depth or complexity of a. lesson to create multiple levels of tasks and assigning students to a level according to their readiness. (H: pgs. 91-95, K: pg. 32, 95 & 98, 111-124, T: pgs. 101) 
  • Web Quests: A teacher designed Internet lesson developed with specific learning goals in mind, some specified and relevant Internet links, and guidelines that support students in the research or inquiry process. (T: pgs. 58 & 59) 

Resources from:  

  1. G= Gregory, Gayle. (2002). Differentiated Instructional Strategies: One Size Doesn’t Fit All. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press. 
  2. H= Heacox, Diane, Ed.D. (2002). Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners, Grade 3-12. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. 
  3. K= Kingore, Bertie. (2004). Differentiation: Simplified, Realistic, and Effective. Austin, TX: Professional Associates Publishing. 
  4. T= Tomlinson, Carol Ann. (2001). How To Differentiate Instruction in a Mixed Ability Classroom, 2nd Edition. Alexandria, VA: ASCD. 
  5. W= Winebrenner, Susan. (2001). Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular Classroom, 2nd Edition. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit Publishing. 

 Complied by Sherril Samuels – October 2005 


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