A Guiding Question for Differentiation

“Do all lessons have to be differentiated?”

That’s the question that was posed to me recently. My answer was quick and unequivocal: “Of course!”

No doubt, differentiating each lesson requires an investment of effort and time that one-size-fits-all lesson planning does not. If we keep in mind what the goal of differentiation is – to meet the needs of all students – it should be considerably easier to keep in perspective the time required relative to the payoff.

I plan my lessons with a guiding question in mind: “How can I make this lesson appropriately accessible to all of my students?”

Today, I will read a story to the class. We are going to work on several concepts in one sitting (characters, setting, problem, solution, sequence, main idea, and details), so there are going to be multiple graphic organizers for support. The content will differ because for some students the focus will be on more complicated concepts. The process will differ in the use of graphic organizers and the level of independence expected. The product will differ because everyone’s personal writing abilities will be reflected and the most reluctant, struggling writers will demonstrate understanding verbally.

Again, the goal should be that every student is able to access the material in the lesson comfortably.


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