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Differentiated Instruction: An Invitation

SecondaryEdition volume 4 number 4 Summer 2009 Brought to you by the Buddy Project ©2009

Cartoons with Class

by Stephanie Krajicek

Who: Teachers who are trying to address the diverse needs of their students (ELLs, students with IEPs, and GT students) with readiness, interests and learning styles in mind. What: Differentiated Instruction (DI) is an array of strategies and brain-based learning theories that inform instructional design. When & Where: Differentiated Instruction can be used any time, any place. Why: According to Mary Lou McCloskey, professor of applied linguistics and English as a second language at Georgia State University, the principles of learning indicate that intelligence and approaches to learning are variable; the brain seeks meaningful patterns, and students learn best with appropriate challenges (McCloskey, 2006). Teachers who strive to meet their students where they are and design their instruction according to their students’ individual needs are going to be more successful. Carol Ann Tomlinson, professor of education at the University of Virginia, writes that “there is ample evidence that students are more successful in school and find it more satisfying if they are taught in ways that are responsive to their readiness levels (e.g., Vygotsky, 1986), interests (e.g., Csikszentmihalyi, 1997) and learning profiles (e.g., Sternberg, Torff, & Grigorenko, 1998)” (2000). Students who are encouraged to learn in environments that suit their learning styles and challenged in ways that are appropriate to their unique needs are going to be more successful. How: Differentiated instruction is achieved by modifying the content, process (the way material is accessed), product (the way students demonstrate understanding), or learning environment.

Write @ Home Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences suggests that intelligence isn’t a single “thing,” rather that there are many ways of being intelligent. His work examines how people learn and know the world differently. With your child, discuss what you each are good at, enjoy, and how you make sense of the world around you. Make a list of words that describe this discussion. Take this learning inventory to determine what kind of learner you are. Print out the chart and compare it to your list of words. Do they match? How do you think your learning preferences affect the way you write? How do your preferences influence which books you choose to read? Writing ideas for the different intelligences can be found at resources/parent/.

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Ways to Modify Content Use these instructional strategies to modify content: • Enrichment activities • Extension activities • Acceleration/Deceleration • Application of concepts to real-world problems • Complex writing activities that are tied to the real world • Problem solving / Project Based Learning (PBL) Ways to Modify Process Use these instructional strategies and teaching tools to modify process: • Tiered activities -- Learners work on the same underlying concepts and skills; however, how they arrive at an understanding of the concepts and mastery of the skills will vary. DI requires teachers to modify support, challenge and complexity to suit student needs. • Interest-based activities – Use interest inventories or surveys to find out what engages students. • Manipulatives – Provide hands-on activities or props for students who are kinesthetic learners. • Vary time – Allow students to work at a pace that is challenging, keeping in mind individual needs. • Group vs. individual work – Allow students to choose the mode of learning. • Print vs. digital texts – Provide alternative texts and means of accessing content. (Cont’d online) Finish reading this article and see sources at

Professional Literature Review


Differentiated Instruction Using Technology: A Guide for Middle and High School Teachers

Tiered Writing Prompts for Memorial Day • Write a letter thanking a veteran or a soldier who is currently serving in the U.S. military for his or her service to our nation.

by Amy Benjamin (Eye on Education, 2005)

Benjamin provides educators with a thorough overview of Differentiated Instruction (DI), including discussion of pedagogical theory, components of DI, technology integration considerations, assessment and specific technology which lends itself to differentiation. Teachers will also find examples of tiered activities and unit menus for all content areas. The last section of the book is dedicated to “...lesson models for secondary classrooms, and how they can be enriched by technology. Most of these lessons are interdisciplinary, involve reading, and call for critical thinking” (Benjamin, p. 115). This book is a great resource for beginning and seasoned teachers interested in reaching out to all of the students in the 21st century.

• Interview a grandparent or elderly neighbor who lived through one of the wars of the 20th century about his or her experiences. Write a narrative relating that person’s experiences. • Write an extended definition of “liberty.” • Search for music inspired by or written about Decoration Day. Research the composer / songwriter and his / her era. Choose two or three pieces from different genres and eras to compare and contrast. How do they address the idea of memory? Use iTunes® to help you find artists and albums. Find web resources related to Memorial Day and more writing activities at http://www.thewritingsite. org/resources/prompts.

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For more reviews, visit http://www.thewritingsite. org/resources/profread/default.asp.


Summer 2009 -- Differentiated Instruction

Technology & Writing

Using Glogster™ to Differentiate Writing Instrutction Glogster™ is a Web 2.0 tool that allows users to create Glogs, which are interactive posters, about any topic they desire. These Glogs can be public or private and may be sent to a user’s profile at any major social network (e.g., Facebook™ or My Space™), embedded in a webpage or shared via e-mail. Teachers who are interested in integrating Glogster into their curricula will be pleased to learn that Glogster has recently created a space especially for schools. Glogster. com/edu allows teachers to sign up for 200 student accounts. Student user names and passwords will be sent to the teacher to distribute. The advantage of over Glogster is that once a virtual classroom is established, students will only be able to see the Glogs created within their teacher’s group. Additionally, they can only communicate with the members of the established school group. Glogster plans to add functionality to both sites in the near future, including the ability to embed to wiki pages, multiediting to allow groups to work on one common Glog, and “master-account[s] for teachers which will allow them to edit student accounts and Glogs” (

struggling writers to gauge their grasp of reading assignments or as extension activities for advanced students. As an added bonus, Glogster allows students (and teachers) to meet technology standards by allowing them to create and work with multiple media formats. Glogster is great for students who... • are known to struggle with written words because its format encourages short and sweet distillations of content • are visual learners because it focuses on visual literacy (not just the written word). • are musical because it allows students to embed music and play with the music in language. • are hands-on learners because it requires the creation of unique content that is not limited to pen and paper or word-processing. • are social because it encourages networking and collaboration. Is Glogster great for your class? Find out by visiting to see examples and decide for yourself.

This technology lends itself to differentiated writing instruction for students who require adaptations. Consider using Glogster for ELL students and

Using Moodle™ Groups to Differentiate Writing Instrutction Differentiating writing instruction isn’t always easy, but it can be! Moodle™, a course management software, allows teachers to create groups and can be used to differentiate writing instruction and activities...

“If a child can’t learn the way we teach, maybe we should teach the way they learn.” -- Ignacio Estrada

WC Secondary vol 4 no 4

The group function can work in tandem with Moodle’s other modules to create differentiated tests and quizzes, rubrics for workshops, questionnaires, interactive lessons, and much more for ELL students, gifted students and students with IEPs. Moodle’s group function offers teachers a way to individualize instruction without the addition of co-teachers or hours of preparation time. Read more about Moodle groups at technology/Moodle.asp


Summer 2009 -- Differentiated Instruction

Literature Links

WebClips...WebClips...WebClips...WebClips WebClips...WebClips...WebClips...WebClips The Access Center: Differentiated Instruction for Writing resources/writingdifferentation.asp An overview of differentiation and examples of differentiated activities for the writing classroom.

Who Do You Think You Are? Stories of Friends and Enemies

Edited by Hazel Rochmand & Darlene McCampbell (Little, Brown and Company, 1993)

Tools for Differentiated Instruction Using Technology Resources/Tools%20for%20Differeniated%20 Instruction%20Using%20Technology.htm A list of links organized by topic, readiness levels, and tools.

On the Fringe

Edited by Donald R. Gallo (SPEAK, 2003) These are collections of short stories by authors such as John Updike, Toni Cade Bambara, M.E. Kerr, and Ray Bradbury that focus on outsiders and their struggles; they are a perfect vehicle for addressing differences (physical, emotional, socioeconomic, and sexual). *Some of the stories are more mature than others.

Eduscapes: Ready, Set, What’s Missing? Success through Differentiation & Technology differentiate/ A list of links that will serve as starting points and resources to engage all kinds of learners College @ Home: 100 Helpful Web Tools for Every Kind of Learner blog/2008/06/10/100-helpful-web-tools-forevery-kind-of-learner/

Find extension ideas and differentiated instruction suggestions at resources/literature/secondary.asp.

For more Web Clips, visit

Celebrate Writers

Patricia Cornwell, born on June 9, 1956, is a contemporary American crime writer. She is best known for writing a popular series of novels featuring the heroine Dr. Kay Scarpetta, a medical examiner. These novels are considered to have influenced the development of popular TV series on forensics, such as CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, and Cold Case Files.

WritingCalendar May 23 -- Penny Day In 1733, Ben Franklin first published Poor Richard’s Almanac which included a version of the famous saying, “A penny saved is a penny earned.” Do you agree with the premise of this quote? Do you tend to be a saver or a spender? What financial goals do you have?

Dame Jean Iris Murdoch, born July 15, 1919, was an Irish-born British author and philosopher. She is best known for Under the Net, which was selected in 2001 by the editorial board of the American Modern Library as one of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century.

Find more Writing Calendar ideas by visiting cal/secondary.asp.

WC Secondary vol 4 no 4

Find more birthdays of famous authors at


Summer 2009 -- Differentiated Instruction

Write Connections vol 4 num 3