Goucher College Special Education Master's ProgramOnline Differentiation Course

Welcome to the Course!

As teachers, we will maximize student growth and achievement by responding to all learners’ needs. Differentiated instruction is an approach during which teachers make intentional decisions in their practice based on data they collect about their students’ readiness, learning profiles, and interests. During this course, we will deepen our knowledge around the research and best practices relating to differentiated instruction. We will apply our learnings through the creation of original, differentiated products and will reflect on how differentiated instruction connects to our work in the classroom.


Course Syllabus

Course Schedule

About the Instructor
Leslie Grahn is a resource teacher in the Office of Professional and Organizational Development for Howard County Public Schools in Maryland. In her role, she works in the areas of teacher and leadership development for which she plans and facilitates professional learning experiences for new and veteran teachers and district leaders across content areas and levels. Leslie is a course instructor and a frequent session and workshop presenter at local, state, regional, and national conferences, specializing in best practices such as hands-on, interactive strategies, and about topics such as student engagement, formative assessment, and differentiated instruction. She obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Maryland Baltimore County in French and Secondary Education and her Master's of Education in Administration and Supervision from Loyola College.

Prior to First Class:


1. Create your profile

2. Introductions:
Click on the link to go to the Discussion Forum. Complete your post by . Then respond to the replies of at least 2 of your classmates by _.

Discussion #1: Introductions
  • Share your name, describe your current job, and one fun fact about yourself
  • Respond to 2 of the prompts below:
    • Describe your definition of differentiated instruction and how it relates to the 21century classroom.
    • Describe how your students acquire most of the information that is learned in your classroom.
    • Describe your goals for the class.
    • Share some essential questions for which you would like answers through your experience in the course.

Module 1: Digging Into DI Research


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • state the non-negotiables of differentiated instruction
  • discuss the basic structures for and research on differentiation.

Synchronous WebEx session: to introduce the course and develop background knowledge about differentiated instruction.

Content Assignment:

Go to the Dare to Differentiate wiki Background Information page. Choose 3 additional resources representing a variety of media to add to your knowledge on the topic of Differentiated Instruction.

Application Assignment: (Choose 1)

Choice 1.1:Create a visual that captures what differentiation is and isn't. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from our WebEx session and your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Choice 1:2:Create a quick card that compares and contrasts suggestions made by Tomlinson for differentiating instruction for struggling and advanced learners. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from our WebEx session and your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.


Application Assignment Rubric


Readings in preparation for Module 2:

Read Chapters 1-2 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text


Module 2: Supportive Learning Environment


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • describe the optimal environment for a differentiated classroom
  • articulate the importance of learning environment.


Content Assignment:
  1. Click on the Presentation link. Save the file and view the PowerPoint. Take notes as desired.
  2. Go to the Dare to Differentiate wiki Supportive Learning Environment page. Choose 3 additional resources representing a variety of media to add to your knowledge on the topic of Supportive Learning Environment.

Application Assignment: (Choose 1)

Choice 2.1: Create an annotated bibliography for 10 resources on the Dare to Differentiate Supportive Learning Environment page. Include the author's qualifications, the audience for which the resource was developed, and a summary of the content for each entry. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Choice 2:2: Create a self-assessment on supportive learning environment based on the knowledge you have gained through this session and complete it. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.


Application Assignment Rubric

Readings in preparation for Module 3:

Read Chapters 3-5 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classroomsand respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text

Module 3: Flexible Grouping and Cooperative learning


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss flexible grouping in the differentiated classroom
  • describe cooperative learning structures.

Content Assignment:
  1. Click on the Presentation link or download the file . Save the file and view the PowerPoint.Take notes as desired.
  2. Go to the Dare to Differentiate wiki Flexible Grouping page. Choose 3 additional resources representing a variety of media to add to your knowledge on the topic of Flexible Grouping.

Application Assignment:

Conduct research into Spencer Kagan's Cooperative Learning Structures. Create an original PowerPoint, screencast, podcast, or other instructor-approved product that describes the evolution of Cooperative Learning and that highlights at least 4 of Kagan's Structures. The Dare to Differentiate wiki Flexible Grouping page provides resources on this topic. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Application Assignment rubric

Readings in preparation for Module 4:

Read Chapters 9-10 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text

Module 4: Knowing Your Learners



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss how knowing their learners will contribute to student engagement and achievement
  • describe the process of collecting data on student interest and learning profile.

Check In:
Complete the poll at this link to give feedback to the instructor regarding your experience thusfar with the course.

Content Assignment:
  1. Read the article "Knowing Our Students As Learners."
  2. Go to the Dare to Differentiate wiki Knowing the Learner page. Choose 3 additional resources representing a variety of media to add to your knowledge on the topic of Knowing Your Learners.

Application Assignment (Choose 1):

Choice 4.1: Explore the various data collection tools for knowing your learners (http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/Knowing+the+Learner). Choose one survey and conduct it with a group of students (minimum 10). Create a visual that illustrates your data and. Post survey and results in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about 1) how you might respond to the data through your lesson planning and 2) what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.


Choice 4.2: Choose one activity that you would typically assign to your students. Analyze to which type of learners the activity appeals. Create an organizer or chart to illustrate ways you could alter the activity to appeal to multiple learning styles and interests (minimum 3 variations). Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Application Assignment rubric

Reading in preparation for Module 5:

Read the following article and respond to the questions provided. Post your responses in your journal.

Laying the foundation for a classroom of choice:
http://www.ascd.org/publications/books/104020/chapters/Laying-the-Foundation-for-a-Classroom-of-Choice.aspx

Study guide questions


Module 5: Choice Boards



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • analyze examples of choice boards for qualities of differentiated instruction.

Content Assignment:
Watch the Teaching Channel video on "Differentiating with Learning Menus" and read the handout from Frederick County Public Schools called "Extension Menus: How to Create and Use Them."

Application Assignment:
Choose one choice board from the Dare to Differentiate Choice Boards wikipage and a) analyze it for learning styles, b)make suggestions for improvements, c) create a list of 3-5 questions for the teacher who created it. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.


Application Assignment rubric

Portfolio Artifact #1:Choice Board

Using the examples as guides, create a choice board (minimum 8 choices). Post on your group page on the wiki and collect feedback from your classmates. Act on feedback and post finalized choice board and a one-page reflection on your thought process in your ePortfolio. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied.


Portfolio Artifact rubric

Warm and Cool Feedback



Module 6: Managing a Differentiated Classroom


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss aspects of a well-managed differentiated classroom.

Content Assignment:

Watch the webcast, "Managing a Differentiated Classroom" with Carol Ann Tomlinson on Scholastic's Teacher Talks and explore the slides for "Leading and Managing in a Differentiated Classroom" by Carol Ann Tomlinson.

Application Assignment:

Draw a Before and After picture of a classroom. The "before" picture should reflect aspects of a typical, non-differentiated classroom. Contrast with the "after" picture that illustrates differences once differentiated instruction is put in place. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Application Assignment rubric


Readings in preparation for Module 7:

Read Chapters 6 & 7 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text



Module 7: Respectful Tasks and Differentiating for Readiness



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • distinguish respectful tasks from disrespectful tasks
  • explain how to differentiate instruction by student readiness.

Content Assignment:

Read the article, "Deciding to Teach Them All."

Portfolio Artifact #2: Tiered Assignment

Choose one assignment or project you typically assign to your students. Assume that the assignment/project is “on” grade level. Create an “above” and “below” version of the assignment/project. Use Tomlinson’s equalizer (p. 47 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms) and/or the Analyzing a Tiered Assignment checklist to guide your work. Post on your group page on the wiki and collect feedback from your classmates. Act on feedback and post finalized tiered assignment and a one-page reflection on your thought process in your ePortfolio. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied.


Portfolio Artifact rubric

Warm and Cool Feedback



Readings in preparation for Module 8:

Read Chapter 8 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text


Module 8: DI Scenarios

You will be assigned to a small group and each small group will be given one of the scenarios on this document: . Work as a group on a draft of a plan for differentiation based on the data given. The plan draft may be in the form of a document, podcast, video/screencast or other instructor-approved format. Your group will post the draft plan on Voicethread by the due date. One group member must have an account set up on Voicethread. Once the draft of your plan is posted on Voicethread, post the link to it on our class Discussion Forum. By the due date, you will log onto other groups' voicethread pages, review their work, and leave thoughtful questions for them. After the due date, groups will work collaboratively using a platform of their choice (meeting face to face, Google Hangout, Google Docs, wiki, etc.) to refine their plan and respond to the questions posed to them through Voicethread. Final plans and group participation rubrics should be posted in Dropbox.

Some templates you can use for this assignment

Small Group Work rubric

Group participation rubric



Module 9: Planning for Differentiation



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss aspects of a differentiated lesson plan.

Check In:
Complete the poll at this link to give feedback to the instructor regarding your experience thusfar with the course.


Content Assignment:
  1. Read the article "Instructional Planning Guide for Differentiation."
  2. Analyze one of the examples of a differentiated lesson on the wiki: http://daretodifferentiate.wikispaces.com/Planning+for+and+Managing+Differentiation. Evaluate the lesson based on learning profile, interest, and readiness. Also consider the non-negotiables of differentiated instruction.

Portfolio Artifact #3: Differentiated Lesson Plan

Choose one lesson you have created. Analyze it for learning profile, interest, and readiness and the non-negotiables of DI. Re-engineer the lesson to include at least one example of an activity differentiated by content, process, or product. Post on your group page of the wiki and collect feedback from your classmates. Act on feedback and post finalized differentiated lesson and a one-page reflection on your thought process in your ePortfolio. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied.


Portfolio Artifact rubric

Warm and Cool Feedback




Readings in preparation for Module 10:

Read Chapters 11-13 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions from the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses in your journal.

Study Guide for text


Module 10: Differentiation Strategies



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • analyze and evaluate various differentiation strategies for qualities of differentiation.

Content Assignment:

Choose one of this lesson’s focus strategies (RAFT Assignments, WebQuests, or cubing/think dots. Examine examples on the wikipages.

Portfolio Artifact #4: Choice Differentiation Strategy

Create an original RAFT assignment, WebQuest, or Cubing/Think Dots actvitiy. Post on your group page of the wiki for feedback from classmates. Post on wiki and collect feedback from your classmates. Act on feedback and post finalized differentiated activity and a one-page reflection on your thought process in your ePortfolio. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied.


Portfolio Artifact rubric

Warm and Cool Feedback



Reading in preparation for Module 11:

Read the article, "How Classroom Assessments Improve Learning," by Thomas Guskey. Make connections between the article and the non-negotiables of differentiated instruction. Post your responses in your journal.


Module 11: Collecting Data to Inform Differentiation



Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss the connection between student data and instructional choices regarding differentiation.

Content Assignment:

Choose 3 resources in varied forms of media (articles, videos, podcasts, etc.) from this wikipage (http://letthedatabeyourguide.wikispaces.com/What+is+formative+assessment%3F) to deepen your knowledge about formative assessment.

Application Assignment (Choose 1):

Choice 11.1:Choose one set of student work or use a set from our class page. Complete the Analysis of Student Work tool using the data. Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.

Choice 11.2: Explore the formative assessment strategies on this wikipage (http://letthedatabeyourguide.wikispaces.com/Formative+Assessment+Strategies). Create a database of at least 10 formative assessment strategies. Create fields for description of the strategy, type of assessment, type of data expected, links to examples, etc.
Post your product in the Discussion Forum and write a short reflection about what you learned about yourself by completing it. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied. Reply to one other classmate's posting.


Application Assignment rubric


Reading in preparation for Module 12:

Read Chapter 14 of How to Differentiate in Mixed-Ability Classrooms and respond to questions on the study guide for each chapter. Post your responses to your journal.

Study Guide for text



Module 12: Differentiation of Assessment


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • discuss the benefits and challenges of differentiating assessments.

Content Assignment:

  1. Explore the slideshow called "Fair Isn't Always Equal" by Rick Wormelli and take notes in the four categories: Mastery, Assessment, Tiering, and Grading.
  2. Read the article, "Tools for Actively Engaging Students in Assessment Processes" from ASCD Express. Note the 5 Key Assessment Shifts.

Portfolio Artifact #5: Differentiated Assessment

Choose an assessment you typically administer to your students. Using it as a base, differentiate the assessment based on learning profile and/or readiness (at least 2 additional versions). Post on your group page of the wiki and collect feedback from your classmates. Act on feedback and post finalized differentiated assessments and a one-page reflection on your thought process in your ePortfolio. Incorporate into your reflection learnings from your exploration from the Content Assignment. Make specific references to the resources you studied.


Portfolio Artifact rubric

Warm and Cool Feedback



Reading in preparation for Module 13:

Read the article, "Differentiated Instruction and Implications for UDL Implementation." Create a chart that compares and contrasts DI and UDL. Post to your journal.


Module 13: The Intersection of DI and UDL


Objectives: The participants will be able to
  • share the basic principles of UDL
  • discuss similarities and differences between DI and UDL.

Content Assignment:

Go to the Dare to Differentiate wiki UDL page. Choose 3 additional resources representing a variety of media to add to your knowledge on the topic of UDL.


Small Group Assignment:

Imagine that your group has been asked to prepare a 15 minute professional learning presentation for your school's staff on the topic of Differentiated Instruction. Using Tomlinson's Non-Negotiables of Differentiated Instruction and the Principles of UDLas a foundation, collaboratively create a presentation for the teachers with a mimimum of 15 slides (Powerpoint, Prezi, etc.). Groups may use the collaborative platform of their choice (meeting face to face, Google Hangout, Google Docs, wiki, etc.) Groups must upload their work and the completed group participation rubric in Dropbox. Groups will present their project to the class via WebEx during the next class.


Small Group Assignment rubric

Group Participation rubric

Professional development planning template


Module 14: Teaching Others About DI


Synchronous WebEx session.

Groups will present their professional learning presentations to the class during the WebEx session. Students will offer warm and cool feedback to their classmates.

Final Project:
Create a video, podcast, or other instructor-approved product (minimum 3 minutes in length) entitled “The Top Ten List of Differentiation.” Make references in your product to your experiences with the class modules, the assignments you have completed, and ways you have applied/will apply it in your classroom. Upload your final product to your ePortfolio.