Try This Ed Support training session on Stretch and Challenge- I have removed some ideas/items. If you use any of the information please ensure the copyright information is adhered to.
Call it what you want. Differentiation is simply about matching tasks/learning to learners needs. It is about making lessons accessible? Along with making all students able to understand the task and learn the topic.
The fact of the matter is, whatever you call it, 'it' always comes down to being a good teacher. Being somebody who ensures all students in their lessons can achieve by being stretched and challenged. By being pushed by their learning being made difficult (but achievable) they can then make mistakes. Feedback from you will help them learn from those mistakes during dedicated independent reflection time. (D.I.R.T).
You will only ever be able to do all of this if you KNOW your students and KNOW your class. Their strengths and their areas for development. It takes time, but it can be achieved.
Here are some suggestions:
Adapt lessons/tasks/learning/homework by: (In no particular order!)
Level/Grade- Match the specific task to the criteria in the level/grade
Do not assume for example a level 4b student can only achieve what a level 4b student should. Sometimes data is not as accurate as we may think
Pace/Time- Allowing more/less time for a task- make check in points
Remember exam access arrangements. These should be normal working practices
Content- By simplifying/extending the content- build this into your SoW
However, making things easy does not mean effective/good differentiation- Make the thinking easier, not the task
Access- Age appropriate material/Highlighted texts/Video clips
Reading materials distributed by reading age. Video clips with subtitles/annotations.
Interest- Match the task to the learners personal hooks
Response- re-model/adapt to answers given orally and written down
This is day to day teaching. This is throwing the lesson plan out the window and adapting to the need there and then
Grouping- pairing/grouping- with scaffolding on how/ seating plans
Think carefully about who your students are sat with- does this benefit both learners?
Activity/Task type- Different tasks/tools
Different again doesn't mean easier/harder
Sequencing- providing a checklist/structure
Particularly useful for students with ASD
Teacher Led/Student Led- giving opportunities for students to lead
Feedback/Marking- providing D.I.R.T and using the data effectively, looking at work and thinking about gaps in knowledge.
Questioning- Open/Closed questions- H.O.T skills
Scaffolding- Providing sentence starters- always provide choices
Do not do too much of the work here. Think about cloze activities where the first letter of the word is given. There isn't much challenge there
Choice/Readiness- Students picking which tasks match their needs
Requires training, do not always assume students will pick the easy option
Method- Adapting the way students reach end goal- Thinking/Route
Process- Ensuring the task matches the best skill set of the learner
Outcome- By responding to answers/written work- marking/feedback
Do not label students with this too much.
Seating plan- Thinking carefully where all your students are seated/why?
Peer/group support- Help desks? Progress Stars? Plenary Prefects?
Oral scaffolding- Giving students stepped instructions/leaving info out?
Use of TA- How do you direct learning/providing extension tasks?
Technology- Any websites/programs/APPS?
Physical resources- viewfinder/Writing slope
Can you think of more? ADD YOUR EXAMPLES below in the Padlet?
Watch this informative video clip on
As teachers we must design lessons that cater for the zone of proximal development for all of our students.
This Padlet wall below contains tips from teachers about how they differentiate...
Top tips- (adapted) from @ChrisMoyse
your class and
demonstrate this through up-to-date, annotated seating plans and student
profiles. Gather information that enables you to connect to them as
them and have really high expectations. Keep the bar high always and present
learning without limits. Share excellence with them so they can see and
understand your high expectations. Use modelling
and explanation so
that they are clear about what constitutes excellence.
Encourage your students to make
and learn from mistakes. Then feedback can come into play.
Don’t be tempted to say “If you’ve got a problem, put your hand up and I will
come and help”. Try to help them build resilience in the face of difficulty.
Make them sweat.
Opportunities for students to express their understanding and articulate their thoughts should be designed into
any lesson. Great teachers are great listeners too. Be a flexible, adaptive and
their books and
provide your students with more work. Provide them with an opportunity to make
your suggested improvements: the only time you will ever have 30 different
lesson plans – gold plated differentiation!
Here are some very insightful posts via Tweachers- well worth a read!