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Best Strategies to Implement Differentiation Effectively

Every student is unique, and no two students are exactly alike. Rather than encouraging students to conform to a single ideal or pathway in teaching, as was done traditionally, modern schools are embracing students’ differences and including diversity in academics. Celebrating the differences and unique strengths in each student enriches student learning environment and contributes to growth in a well-rounded school with pupils who are eager to learn.

Attempting to include and appeal to each student, however, can be a daunting task for teachers. It can be challenging to plan lessons and create presentations that appropriately implement differentiation while helping students learn and grow. Teachers across the globe are faced with this prospect every day of their careers. There are, however, ways to effectively implement differentiation without sacrificing any student’s ability to learn. Appropriately done, implementing the following differentiation strategies will helpfully assist students in achieving more academically, learning to adapt, and promote growth on a personal and class-wide level.

Utilize various learning styles

Children learn through a myriad of ways. Visual, hands-on, and audio learning are several examples. When teachers incorporate multiple styles into their lesson plans, their instructions will appeal to more students.

Students who learn through visual representation enjoy watching videos or demonstrations. They do best when they read from a textbook or observe their teacher’s example before attempting to solve or replicate a problem. To help visual learners, teachers can give demonstrations or examples on whiteboards or chalkboards for their students to follow. Teachers can also show explanatory videos or provide a diverse array of textbooks, magazines, and books for students to reference (Robb).

Those who learn through audio stimuli are attentive during lectures. They’ll likely participate and engage in group discussions and enjoy listening to others read. Teachers should include moderate instructional lectures, group discussions, and group reading time to appeal to audio learners.

Hands-on learners are likely to enjoy creative projects that involve coloring, cutting and gluing paper, and experimentation. They will enjoy participating in demonstrations, making artwork, and using blocks or small objects to solve problems. Teachers should incorporate experiments, craft projects, and object-based math lessons into their curriculum for students with this learning style. Hands-on learning also helpfully reinforces lectures or demonstrations and provides practical growth and application for students (Applied).

While teachers may prefer one teaching style over another, they must learn to instruct their students in a variety of engaging, practical ways. Teachers that are dynamic and strong in several teaching methods will most effectively impact the education of their students.

Give students opportunities to be leaders

Allowing students to lead their peers is an easy way to grow leadership skills and help students that are struggling. Students will also enjoy managing responsibility while helping each other with less restriction from a teacher.

Teachers can differentiate classroom lessons by appointing students to work on assignments or projects in groups with a designated group captain or leader. Students will enjoy sharing their knowledge and skill sets, encourages friendly relations among students in the classroom, and will reinforce what students have learned as they teach others who will, in turn, benefit from the assistance of their like-minded peers (Applied).

Provide students with options

Students can excel in a myriad of areas. When teaching a lesson or instructing on a specific subject, teachers should offer multiple options, ideas, or theories so that their students have a well-rounded, open-minded education. Teachers can accomplish this in several ways:

  • Mathematics: Teachers can show students several correct ways to solve an equation or get a specific result.
  • Science: Because much of science is founded on theory, teachers can discuss multiple approaches as they instruct their students.
  • Reading: Teachers can give their students options concerning what material to read.
The concept of presenting students with options is closely associated with educational goal-setting. As students make practical choices that expound upon their strengths and benefit of their own education, they will be able to explore different avenues of learning that intrigue them while growing and learning with the rest of their classmates (Applied).

Encourage group work

While learning from a singular lecturer or instructor is beneficial to students, teachers can differentiate within their class by encouraging group discussion or group work. Teachers can organize group work in the following easy ways:
  • Holding an in-depth group discussion. Discussion groups can be small, include the entire class, or be student-led. Discussions helpfully explain the importance of facts or texts and connecting their principles to the lives of the students.
  • Complete assignments in small groups. After a lecture or demonstration, students can be organized into small groups to work through a task, experiment, or project (Hanover).
  • Partner work. Students select or are assigned to a partner with whom they quickly complete the assignment or discuss their thoughts about the lesson (Applied).
Assess and reassess

As with any other profession, teaching consists of trial and error. Teachers should continuously go through the following proven cycle as they determine whether their differentiation strategies are effective:

  1. Act Teachers should determine a positive differentiation method or action and implement it in their classrooms.
  2. Plan Teachers should clearly outline their ideal outcomes and discuss these hopes with their students.
  3. Do Teachers should observe their plan in action during class and ask for feedback from their students.
  4. Study Teachers should interpret their student feedback and classroom results.
Teachers should act on new evidence and create a revised plan for implementation, repeating the cycle (Hanover).

As teachers find ways to implement quick, proven teaching styles, group discussions, leadership opportunities, and provide their students with learning options, they will see differentiation effectively introduced and managed among their students. Following a continuous loop of action, observation, and revision helpfully aids teachers in creating an organized differentiation plan that best fits the needs of their evolving classroom.


Hanover Research. “Best Practices for Differentiated Instruction: Prepared for WASA School

Applied Educational Systems. “The 12 Best Differentiated Instruction Strategies for CTE,” 

Robb, Laura. Scholastic, “What Is Differentiated Instruction?” 

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