Episode 51 How to improve student engagement with differentiation

Episode 51 looks at how you can improve student engagement through differentiation by focusing on both the student and the classroom.

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Episode 51 How to improve student engagement with differentiation is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

Video show

Show notes

Methods of differentiation

Student Elements

  • Where they are at
  • Interest in the content
  • Learning preferences

Classroom Elements

  • Content
  • Process
  • Product
  • Environment

Where they are

  • Students skill level
  • Prior knowledge
  • Include any learning disability

Based on diagnostic assessments and formative assessment… evidence not just expectations


  • Understand the level of interest the student has in your topic/s
  • Know their outside interests
  • Combine them in the best possible way to stimulate student interest in the learning and therefore increase motivation to learn

Learning Preferences

  • Environment 
  • Consuming content
  • Express knowledge
  • Discuss content


  • Various ways to consume the content
  • Different levels of content from shallow to deep
  • Can it link to student interests


  • Adjust this based on where the student is at… hit the zone of proximal development
  • Different amounts of support (scaffolds, sentence starters, teacher time)
  • Link with student interests
  • How long they have to work on it
  • Extension activities that go deeper and are not more of the same thing


  • Ensure it is in the zone of proximal development
  • Allow choice in how they express their learning
  • Portfolios
  • Student interests and skills


  • Furniture layout
  • Expectations
  • Noise
  • Type of environment – lab, formal setting, outside, gym etc

Strategies to Use

  • Choice boards (tic-tac-toe, menu boards, hyperdocs)
  • Tier content and activities from shallow (single ideas to deep combining multiple ideas)
  • Gather information on student’s interests and allow students to use this as they learn new content (highlight the connections for them even)
  • Plan groups, not random – Puzzle
  • Have flexible classroom spacing for quiet areas, group spaces, etc
  • Provide scaffolds and further support to students who need it
  • Adjust based on learning support information (coloured paper, larger text, easier to read texts etc)

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