Teacher Learning Community

Spring 2017 TLC: Engaging All Students in Learning - Activity 2 Resources

Course leader:

Differentiation to Support Student Engagement

How do effective teachers create classroom environments that support and address the needs and strengths of a diverse group of learners?

This activity takes the idea of differentiating instruction to broader contexts.  Participants will explore Universal Design For Learning, Teaching Up, differentiation, and scaffolding as ways that teachers intentionally and proactively design their instruction to address the learning needs of all students. In addition, there are specific strategies that might serve specific groups of students. Your focus for this activity could take two directions:

  • differentiating to more actively engage and challenge all students to reach their potential

  • differentiating to engage and provide access for a specific group of students



This chapter from the book, ADD/ADHD Alternatives in the Classroom, gives many examples of ways to interact and effectively engage students in the classroom.  

This infographic gives a visual for strengths, weaknesses, supports for the classroom and other things you can do to support students with dyslexia.  

This article describes Low THreshold High Ceiling tasks for use in mathematics and offers some practical examples from various grade levels.  Low Threshold High Ceiling tasks are meant to help differentiate math so that all students can access the task and some students can challenge to take the math to a higher level.  


This webpage expands on the three components of Universal Design for Learning model. 


This article outlines strategies and techniques to meet all students needs, especially those with special needs, in an inclusive classroom.  

This article explores why some students can do a task or problem but cannot explain how they did it, and how to help them think through the process.  


This article gives examples of how to differentiate within the RAFTS (Role, Audience, Format, and Topic + Strong Verb) model.  

This interactive website has a section on attention, reading, writing and math difficulties.  In each section, there is basic information, types of difficulties, and ways to respond. The interactive portion results from “try this” simulations to help educators build empathy and understanding for students experiencing these difficulties.


This video shows how "learning menus" can provide individual exploration of content at a level that they are comfortable and ready for.  

This site provides a wealth of information about a variety of learning disabilities, including basic information and ideas for implementation.


This article addresses the need for teachers to be aware of and trained to understand executive function and utilize skills that are developmentally and strategically appropriate for the cognitive ability of their students.  

This article provides concrete and practical strategies for differentiating instruction for students experiencing difficulties in various areas of literacy.  


This chapter from the book Differentiation: From Planning to Practice, Grades 6–12, Rick Wormeli details various structures and strategies helpful for differentiation.

This article describes grouping techniques that are either teacher-led or student-led. Grouping strategies and ideas are given for both.  A table is also provided that describes roles and activities for teachers and students within groups.  

This resource gives tips, ideas, and strategies to differentiate in secondary classrooms.  

This article examines the distinction between basic interpersonal communicative skills (BICS) and cognitive academic language proficiency (CALP) which are terms used when referring to academic learning.  

This article provides information on the elements of structured literacy.  

This article list do's and don'ts for different classroom strategies when working with English Language Learners.  

This video shows how a 7th-grade teacher uses "learning menus" to give students choices and differentiation in her language arts classroom.  

This NCTE Strategy Guide provides strategies for differentiation and is designed for grades 6-12.


This Scholastic Article provides some strategies for differentiation in content areas for students who have difficulty reading.


This visual shows how aspects of differentiation relate to each other.  May be most helpful to those encountering differentiation from a more novice orientation.


This blog post includes links to many videos and articles providing examples of integrating language instructions for ELL students in content instruction.  

This page gives suggestions for modifications and accommodations for students with dyslexia.  

This website serves as a clearinghouse of information about ELL education.  While content can be searched by topic, we recommend searching the Resources By Grade.  There are links to videos, articles and books.


This website provides information and practical ideas for gifted education.  The link will take you to the “best of” page, which is a good way to begin using this site if you are unfamiliar with it.

This infographic from ASCD give examples of what constitutes differentiation and what does not.  

This Harvard University resource offers practical suggestions by age for helping students develop and practice skills that could increase executive functioning.


This video and accompanying website provides a framework for Universal Design for Learning


This short blog gives strategies and ideas to change the complexity of tasks within the classroom.  

Free e-book available for download if interested, 4MAT is a learning cycle model.

In this article, Suzy Pepper Rollins discusses the value of planning for scaffolding for classroom instruction. 

This blog post gives a nice list of strategies for supporting students with ADD in the classroom. Many of these strategies may be helpful to many of your students.


In this TEDx talk the speaker, Todd Rose of the Harvard Graduate School of Education, suggests the notion that there is no average student. His point is when we design instruction for the average student, we design for no one.

This short article details some "do's and don'ts" with regard to serving gifted students in the general education classroom.  This article coupled with related resources provides classroom teachers with introductory knowledge about most effectively serving higher ability and gifted students.  

"Our main goal is to inspire, educate and empower teachers of mathematics, transforming the latest research on math into accessible and practical forms. We know from research how to teach math well and how to bring about high levels of student engagement and achievement but research has not previously been made accessible to teachers." On this website you can find tasks to do with your students, watch videos, sign up for courses through youcubed, and find other resources to further your practice.  

This article gives perspective on how a teacher might differentiate content to meet the needs of all students.

In this webinar, Antonio Fierro discusses the state of EL education in the US as well as some of the shifts we must make to move our literacy instruction for ELs into the 21st Century.

*This webinar is one of a series of 10 that was recorded for NW Colorado BOCES to support teachers in their literacy instruction. You can find the others in the series by searching for the keywords "literacy webinar series" in the SEED PAK.

About the presenter: Antonio A. Fierro, Ed.D., is a member of the national cohort of LETRS instructors and an adjunct faculty member at the University of Texas at El Paso. His professional areas of interest include instruction for the English learner, early childhood education, reading foundations, Spanish phonology, and educational leadership. Fierro was previously an award-winning early childhood educator and a successful school district administrator.

This article gives a brief history and definition of differentiation. It then goes on to give examples of ways to utilize differentiation in the classroom.

This article provides examples and strategies for differentiated instruction in reading.

This Teaching Channel Video and article looks at small groups in the classroom to help students prepare for a class discussion.

This excerpt from the book "Becoming scientists: Inquiry-Based Teaching in Diverse Classrooms," details how different group strategies can be utilized in an inquiry classroom to create differentiation through collaboration. Strategies supporting advanced and native English speakers as well as beginning English speakers are also featured in this resource. These strategies can be applied to any number of classroom environments. Part one of this resource can also be found in the PD Market under the title "Opportunities and Challenges for ELLs in the Science Inquiry Classroom" (see link in Related Resources).

This website houses the "can-dos" for English Language Learners.  Can-dos are divided by grade level and ability of what english language learners can do at different development stages of language development.