Kelsie Syverson, EngEd 275 DL, Chapter 11: Differentiation for Success


All students learn differently and are at different levels of their learning, because of this teachers need to differentiate, or teach things differently, their lessons to help all students learn to the best of their abilities. There are three ways that teachers can differentiate their instruction. The change the content that the students need to learn, the instructional process used to teach, and the products of what the students need to create to show what they learned.

  • Differentiating the Content: For literacy the content consists of the knowledge, strategies, and skills the students are suppose to know by the end of their grade level. Some students will need more instruction and practice than other students, while others may need less. For those that need less, they may receive more complex work. The teacher needs to assess their students before deciding how they will differentiate activities.
  • Differentiating the Process: The process is the instruction the teacher uses, the materials used, and the activities the students are involved in to be the most successful. This could be grouping the students by grade level and having appropriate activities for each.
  • Differentiating the Product: The product shows what the students have learned. This may be what the understand and how they will apply it. Students could create projects. Projects can be differentiated depending on the creating process involved or the requirements involved in creating it.

Grouping for Instruction

Teachers typically use three different types of groups: whole class, small group, or individually. To chose a grouping the teacher needs to think about their purpose, the complexity of the activity, and the students’ learning needs. These groups should change throughout the school year.

Guided Reading:

  • Usually done in small groups
  • Used to give students more teacher support when decoding and comprehending what they are reading, to learn reading strategies, or help students become independent readers

Tiered Activities

Tiered activities focus on the same knowledge but differ in complexity. These activities help all student be successful not matter if they are above, below, or at grade level. The activities should still be interesting and engaging to each student as well as requiring the same amount of effort from each students. Teachers vary the activities by varying the complexity of thinking, the level of reading materials, the form of expression or the way that the students would show what they learned, and what the students will do during each activity.

Literacy Centers are meaningful and purposeful literacy activities that are usually done in small groups.


Struggling Readers and Writers

Students with early literacy exposer are seen to have better reading and writing skills than those who have not. This could be done by parents simply reading to their child(ren).

Struggling Readers:

It is very important to identify struggling readers so that they can get the help they need as soon as possible. Some of the factors include:

  • Difficulty developing concepts about written language, phonemic awareness, letter names, and phoneme-grapheme correspondences
  • Slower to respond than classmates when asked to identify words
  • Behavior that deviates from school norms

How to Address Struggling Readers Problems


Struggling Writers:
Some students will have a hard time developing and organizing their ideas, some struggle with word choice and writing complete sentences and effective transitions, and others have problems with spelling, capitalization, punctuation, and grammar skills. Others may struggle with the writing process and using writing strategies.

How to Address Struggling Writers Problems


High Quality Instruction:

To avoid having student struggle with reading and writing, they need to have high quality instruction and using intervention when needed. Teachers use these four components to enhance the literacy development:

  • Personalizing Instruction
  • Using Appropriate Instructional Materials
  • Expanding Teachers’ Expertise
  • Collaborating With Literacy Coaches


Intervention programs help students who are low achieving with reading and writing and help to accelerate their literacy learning.

  • Early Intervention: This is designed for preschoolers, kindergartener, and first graders.
  • Reading Recovery: This program is for first graders. It uses 30-minute daily one-on-one tutoring by trained teachers for 12 to 30 weeks. It includes:
    • Rereading familiar books
    • Independently reading the book introduced in the previous lesson
    • Learning decoding and comprehension strategies
    • Writing sentences
    • Reading a new book with teacher support
  • Response to Intervention (RTI): A schoolwide initiative to identify students who are struggling quickly, promote high-quality classroom instruction, provide effective interventions, and increase the students success.
    • Tier 1: Screening and Prevention
    • Tier 2: Early Intervention
    • Tier 3: Intensive Intervention
  • Interventions For Older Students: The intervention should include these components:
    • High-Quality Instruction
    • Instructional-Level Reading Material
    • More Time for Reading

All above information comes from:
Tompkins, G. E. (2017). Literacy for the 21st century: A balanced approach (7th ed.). Boston: Pearson

Classroom Application

This chapter helped with identifying students who are struggling with reading an writing. I liked all the different ways to differentiate activities especially the tiered activities which is something I will definitely use in my classroom someday.

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