Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom Online

Course Outline

Course Description

This course is designed to provide educators with the resources to create a learning environment that will maximize the potential for student success by using the strategies associated with differentiated instruction. In this course the educator will gain knowledge of how to manage instructional time in a way that meets the standards and also provides motivating, challenging, and meaningful experiences for school age students by differentiating instruction. 

Participants will be presented with a variety of strategies for differentiating instruction by establishing a foundation in the principles of differentiated instruction. They will understand what defines differentiation and recognize their role and responsibilities in a differentiated learning community. Practical applications of how to differentiate with the content, process, and product will be explored while planning differentiated lessons. They will establish quality criteria and assessments to clarify and evaluate assignments. At the end of this course the educator will possess a repertoire of strategies for differentiating instruction that will allow them to respond to the diverse needs of the students in their classroom.


  • Create a classroom climate where all learners succeed to support differentiated instruction.
  • Analyze the rationale, goals, and principles of a differentiated classroom.
  • Report the elements of a classroom that teachers need to modify to ensure maximum learning for all students.
  • Analyze current instructional strategies and classroom practices for principles of differentiation.
  • Illustrate the role and responsibilities of the teacher in an effective differentiated learning community.
  • Address the importance of student readiness, interest, preferences for learning, and emotions associated with effective and efficient learning in a differentiated classroom.
  • Select appropriate tools to gather information about students.
  • Examine and recognize student’s learning styles and multiple intelligences to determine how students access, process, and express information.
  • Analyze the purpose and types of assessments in the differentiated learning environment.
  • Determine the appropriate assessments to use with students as feedback before, during, and after learning.
  • Modify, adapt, and design new approaches to instruction in response to students’ needs, interests, and learning preferences.
  • Differentiate and develop activities for content, process, and products.
  • Develop instructional activities based on essential topics and concepts, significant processes and skills, and multiple ways to display learning.
  • Formulate essential and unit questions to focus instructional planning.
  • Examine the needs of your classroom by utilizing a Curriculum Map to identify content, skills, and products for units of study and address required curricular standards.
  • Justify the purpose of Curriculum Compacting and how to use it to determine the readiness of students.
  • Select, modify, and adjust, instructional strategies and resources to support a differentiated classroom to meet the diverse needs of the students.
  • Analyze Bloom’s Levels of Thinking and Gardner’s Multiple Intelligences to develop varied instructional strategies and relevant learning activities.
  • Design tiered assignments to meet students’ need based on challenge, complexity, resources, outcome, process, and product.
  • Structure flexible grouping to support tiered assignments.
  • Identify special populations and examine the basics of differentiation for these students.
  • Establish quality criteria for assessing differentiated instruction.
  • Effectively manage a differentiated classroom.
  • Develop a differentiated unit of study.

Curriculum Design & Time Requirements

Students will be involved in a variety of tasks to complete course requirements. The following methodologies will be used during the course: lectures, reading, individual and group discussions, cooperative learning, applied practice assignments, development of lesson plans and unit, and reflective written responses. Modules 1 through 9 will be completed one per week. Module 10 will be completed over a two-week period so students will have time to revise and complete the final integration project. This is an online sixty-hour, three credit graduate level course that is completed over a thirteen-week period.

Hardware & Computer Skills Requirements

Students may use either a Macintosh computer or a PC with Windows 2000 or higher. Students should possess basic word processing skills and have internet access with an active e-mail account. Students also are expected to have a basic knowledge of how to use a Web browser, such as Microsoft Internet Explorer, Safari, Mozilla Firefox etc.

Course Materials

The required textbook is Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom written by Diane Heacox, Ed.D.  A variety of readings and resources will be referenced throughout the course.

Session Outline

Session 1: Understanding Differentiated Instruction
  1. Introductions
  2. Establishing class/group expectations and norms
  3. Course overview
  4. Establishing individual course expectations and goals
  5. Course requirements
  6. Course registration
  7. What is differentiated instruction?
  8. You may be differentiating already
  9. The goals of differentiated instruction
  10. What do we differentiate?
  11. Six essential principles of differentiation

Session 2: The Role, Responsibility and Tasks of the Teacher in a Differentiated Classroom
  1. The teacher as a facilitator and collaborator
  2. Qualities of a supportive classroom environment for differentiation
  3. The flexible learning environment
  4. Managing Differentiation
  5. The importance of knowing your students
  6. Academic history
  7. Student Learning Profile
  8. Student interest
  9. Interest Inventory
  10. Understanding multiple intelligences
  11. Multiple Intelligence Checklist

Session 3: Essential Questions
  1. Identify the concepts or ideas that are most important to the understanding of the curriculum
  2. Writing essential questions
  3. Using the essential questions as a teaching tool
  4. Designing unit-level questions
  5. Writing unit questions
  6. Using unit questions as a teaching tool
  7. Using essential and unit questions to differentiate instruction
  8. Developing a unit with essential and unit questions

Session 4: Curriculum Compacting and Curriculum Mapping
  1. Understanding the purpose of Curriculum Mapping
  2. How to use and develop a Curriculum Map
  3. Developing a Curriculum Map
  4. Understanding the purposes of Curriculum Compacting
  5. The Curriculum Compacting process
  6. Develop a Curriculum Compact for a particular area of the curriculum

Session 5: The Challenge and Variety of Differentiated Instruction
  1. Understanding Bloom's Taxonomy
  2. Using Bloom's Taxonomy to differentiate instruction
  3. Identifying Gardner's eight ways of thinking and learning
  4. Integrating Bloom's and Gardner's multiple intelligences
  5. Developing an Integration Matrix

Session 6: Flexible Grouping and Tiered Assignments
  1. Compare and contrast three kinds of groups associated with differentiated instruction
  2. Personalizing learning with flexible grouping
  3. The when, where, and how of flexible grouping
  4. Managing flexible grouping
  5. Planning for flexible grouping
  6. The purpose of tiered assignments
  7. Six ways to structure tiered assignments
  8. Deciding when and how to tier assignments
  9. Guideline for tiered assignments
  10. How to organize groups and give directions using tiered assignments
  11. Develop a tiered assignment

Session 7: Differentiating Content, Process and Products
  1. Differentiating content in response to a student’s readiness level, interest, or learning profile
  2. Strategies for differentiating content: Concept-based teaching, varied text and resource materials, learning contracts, mini lessons, and varied support systems
  3. Differentiating opportunities for students to process the ideas or concepts
  4. Flexible and responsive strategies which support differentiated instruction
  5. Assessing student knowledge by creating high-quality products
  6. Steps to developing a product assignment
  7. Guidelines for product assignments
  8. Differentiating products at various grade levels and ability levels
  9. Develop a differentiated lesson with content, process, and products

Session 8: How to Differentiate for Special Populations
  1. Differentiating Instruction for special needs students
  2. Learning Disabled
  3. Behavior Disorders
  4. Physical Disabilities
  5. Autism Spectrum Disorders
  6. Guidelines to create a differentiated profile for special needs students
  7. Differentiated strategies for special needs students
  8. Differentiated instruction for gifted and talented students
  9. Characteristics of gifted students
  10. High achievers vs. gifted learners
  11. Examine curriculum with SCAMPER
  12. Curriculum compacting for the gifted student
  13. Individual learning plan
  14. Mentors

Session 9: Assessment
  1. Establishing quality criteria for differentiated instruction
  2. Grades
  3. Assessing their own work and peer evaluation
  4. Rigor
  5. Record keeping
  6. Developing rubrics

Session 10: Planning a Differentiated Unit of Study
  1. Questions to guide the planning of a differentiated unit of study
  2. The CCPP Toolkit
  3. Developing a unit of study
  4. Final exam
  5. Lesson presentations
  6. Evaluations


    Assignment Points   Grading Scale  
  Talking Points   14      100 – 93 A
  Differentiated Activities   35       92 – 85 B
  Reflection Assignments   27       84 – 77 C
    Project: Differentiated Unit of Study   24            
  Total Points  100    

Student Requirements

1. Complete all reading and reflection responses
2. Develop a differentiated lesson
3. Complete a Differentiated Unit of Study

Student Academic Integrity

Participants guarantee that all academic class work is original. Any academic dishonesty or plagiarism (to take ideas, writings, etc. from another and offer them as one's own), is a violation of student academic behavior standards as outlined by our partnering colleges and universities and is subject to academic disciplinary action.


To register to take TEI's Differentiated Instruction in the Classroom Online course, go to the Course Registration page.