Creating a Differentiated-Instruction Classroom

By Rod Lucero

Here are a few tips offered by Carol Ann Tomlinson, from the University of Virginia's Curry School of Education, to help you differentiate your instructional methods to meet the varied needs of your students.

Study your students’ differences in order to improve your classroom and lesson planning

Include ongoing, diagnostic assessment to retool your instruction so that it is more responsive to your student’s needs

Strive to know the multiple intelligences in your classroom

Note excellence according to your student’s individual growth

Let your students make interest-based choices

Have multiple instruction arrangements for your students

Let your student readiness, interest, and learning style shape the instruction

Have your students use essential skills to make sense of and understand key concepts and principles

Provide some assignment options; a number of choices from which your students may select

Be flexible with your time, in accordance with your student’s individual needs

Provide your students with multiple learning materials

Routinely seek out multiple perspectives on ideas and events
(…an important element in eliciting Critical Thinking

Facilitate self-reliant learning through maximum use of your student’s individual skill-sets

Have your students assist each other—and you—in problem solving exercises
(…an effective strategy when working with large classes)

Finally, assess your students progress in multiple ways


Tomlinson, C. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.

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Dr. Rodrick Lucero is the Master Teacher Initiative (MTI) coordinator for the College of Applied Human Sciences at Colorado State University. He is an Associate Professor in the School of Education and the Associate Director for the School of Teacher Education and Principal Preparation (STEPP).


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