Background on this Tool
Differentiated instruction is defined as providing instruction in a variety of ways to meet the needs of all learners. Middle and high school teachers often struggle with the meeting their content area expectations while trying to motivate students to be engaged learners. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to meet this challenge. It is an approach that addresses student needs while respecting the demands of rigorous academic standards. There are many tools available to support differentiated instruction, though not all provide clear and directly applicable tools. On Target: Strategies That Differentiate Instruction was created to provide teachers with ideas and strategies to incorporate into their subject areas, with direct guidance to support implementation.
Guidance on How to Leverage this Tool
These toolkits contain background information on differentiated instruction as well as eight specific principles or strategies that can be utilized to begin differentiating instruction. For each strategy, the toolkits provide specific guidelines for implementation and multiple examples of how the strategy could be used in various content areas and grade levels. These toolkits are great resources for instructional coaches and leaders who are working with teachers on increasing differentiated instruction. Instructional coaches and leaders should work with teachers to use student data and knowledge of student needs to make decisions about which of the strategies for differentiation have the most potential for impact.
Getting Started with the Strategies that Differentiate Instruction Toolkit
For opening pages of On Target: Strategies That Differentiate Instruction are dedicated to the basics of differentiation. The guidance at the beginning of the toolkits will encourage teachers to think about which aspects of differentiation they may already be using in their instruction and encourage them to reflect on the areas in which varied strategies are needed. As they venture forward, educators can select and use those strategies that complement the efforts they are already making to meet the diverse needs of their students. All of these strategies should be used hand in hand with intentional monitoring to assess the effectiveness of strategies.
If an educator is new to the idea of differentiated instruction, the framework from The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners, by Carol Ann Tomlinson is a great place to start.