(Up to 60 minutes)

This module explores differentiation in a lesson.

In this module you will:

  • Identify how to differentiate in a class

  • Reflect on the impact of planned differentiation

  • Design lessons that will allow pupils to perform to their maximum potential


(15-20 minutes)

Please read the notes and the handout

Pupils are individuals, having different learning styles and levels of understanding and the approach or method of learning and teaching needs to be adjusted to meet the needs of individual pupils.

Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. It should be understood as a natural part of good teaching. It has a clear purpose and strategies to achieve that purpose.

Why differentiate?

The purpose of differentiation is to achieve the best outcomes for pupils. The teacher needs to know how the pupils are progressing and assessment is a key feature in lessons to allow for flexibility to respond to the learning needs. When the teacher is catering for the learning needs of the pupils they are progressing. The teacher measures this constantly and adapts to the situation.

This is consistent with a shift away from a teacher centred classroom to a pupil centred one.

Differentiation needs to be planned

Good lesson design will allow for a pupil centred classroom. Activities should not be viewed as ends in themselves.

Examples of ways to differentiate your class by

  • Content eg in an English class pupils may be reading different texts

  • Process eg some tasks done individually some collaboratively

  • Product eg write an essay, write a speech, record a sound bite

  • Learning environment eg some pupils need a quiet area, some need space

  • Flexible grouping eg pupils grouped by choice or learning needs

  • Learning style eg some pupils work with software program, some use books, some online tutorials

The 7 Ts of Practical Differentiation (3).pdf

Differentiation is the process of making sure that pupils with different needs and abilities have equal access to learning.


(20 minutes)

Reflect on your own experience of differentiation.

Choose one of the classes that you teach that has pupils with mixed abilities.

  • What are you currently doing to differentiate your teaching?

  • How effective is it?

  • What are the main challenges that you find in differentiating?


(20 minutes)

Think about your own classes and take the opportunity to plan changes you may be considering making.

From the handout, select one of the 7 Ts and plan how you will use that with one particular class.

Further Reading and Support Materials