The Basic Principles of Differentiated Instruction


  • Students are different, and those differences can be used to help them learn. Students differ in their depth of knowledge of a subject, the ways they learn best, and the things that interest, excite and motivate them.
  • Instruction can be responsive to students’ needs if teachers use diagnostic (formative) assessments often to find out where individual students are in their progression toward learning goals.
  • Success is defined as individual growth.
  • Classroom activities are respectful when they are interesting, engaging and appropriately challenging.
  • In a differentiated classroom, students may have several options for taking in information, for processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and for demonstrating what they’ve learned.
  • Students are often allowed to choose the approach they want to take to learning, based on their learning preferences.
  • Many different classroom arrangements are used in a given week, including small group work, small groups led by the teacher, individual work, whole class discussions led by the teacher, whole class demonstrations of student work, etc. The assignment of students to groups is flexible, depending on the topic. Differentiated classrooms are not “tracked” nor are they completely independent, self-paced environments.



Are there others? Please add to this list on the Discussion Tab for this page. What do you think is important in a DI classroom?