What is Differentiated Instruction?

Rick Wormeli: Keynote on RTI and DI at the CLMS Annual Conference, Feb. 26-28, 2010, in Sacramento. This is an excellent clip to show your school staff. Rick answers the questions teachers are asking. This is a ‘must watch’ clip! So what is differentiated instruction?


Visit the Instructional Rounds ning, go to videos and view Rick Wormeli’s clip. It’s worth the visit.

Cheers Nina


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17 responses to “What is Differentiated Instruction?

  1. nina davis

    Reblogged this on Nina's Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom and commented:

    90 % of differentiation happens before the students enter the classroom…. planning!

  2. Pingback: Rick Wormeli – Differentiation in the Classroom | Nina’s Arena-Teaching & Learning in the Australian primary classroom

  3. Desiree Year 4 teacher.

    Have tried to implement some of Carolyn Coil’s and Rick Wormeli’s differentiating ideas this week! Great results! Worked a dream with the kids. My goal: To try a different idea / activity each week. Hopefully, this will naturally become embedded in my teaching!

    • Rick Wormeli

      Please share your insights, triumphs, mistakes, etc. as you travel these paths. It’s surprising how many folks read others reflections to sort their own thinking. You would really help many others just by sharing what worked, what didn’t, what you’d change when you teach it again, and other insights. — Rick

      • nina davis

        Hi Rick,
        It always surprises me how many people read my little blog and the insightful comments I get, many via email. The comments or questions come from a range of educators and not just classroom teachers. There are graduate teachers struggling who ask for help and I always tell them that teaching is a journey of trial and experiment… and it’s not easy lol.
        The internet is where they seem to go for answers and this doesn’t surprise me. I read some amazing blogs myself and am always on the hunt for new ideas. My blog has enabled me to connect and share with many educators globally and that’s when i started to understand that ‘education has no borders’. We’re all trying to provide our students with the best education we can and to do this we have to understand what ‘best practice’ is. Differentiation is ‘best practice’. It’s the ‘how’ that’s challenging! Thanks for commenting… so appreciated!
        Cheers Nina

      • nina davis

        Hi Rick,
        I regularly read an excellent blog by a Melbourne principal. His most recent post includes a number of your videos and is about differentiation. Also included are some interesting questions. Thought you might like to read it. I know from your comments on my blog that you might be interested.
        Cheers Nina (link below)

      • Rick Wormeli

        Thanks, Nina. I’ll check it out! — Rick Wormeli

    • nina davis

      Hi Desiree,
      I can feel your excitement and it’s very motivating. I’ve been working on differentiation for some time now and haven’t nailed it yet. It’s a journey, but having educators like Carolyn and Rick’s expertise to draw on certainly helps. I’m always setting new goals for myself and this keeps me motivated. I’m also learning something new everyday and have my learner’s plate on. The wonderful ‘thing’ about teaching is that no matter how experienced you are there’s always a new challenge and I love this!
      Thanks for commenting and sharing on my blog. Your passion for teaching ‘jumps out’ and that’s inspiring for others, and me!
      Keep in contact…
      Cheers Nina

  4. Desiree Year 4 teacher.

    Hio Rick, 4am in Australia right now! Why can’t I sleep? Just spent 2 days with ‘Carolyn Coil’ learning about Differentiated Instruction. My mind is buzzing! Came downstairs few minutes ago and logged on to Nina’s post. And there you are radiating the same excitement as Carolyn! Wow! Yes, kids thrive on learning this way. I love it when a kid amazes themselves when they find they can also do stuff pretty well even though the layout of the track was a bit different to how other kids got there… I loathe reporting with A B C D E and moderating to get their final score for rep0rt card! Very UNFAIR way of assessing kids. But we have to do this – Dept of Education directive. I try so hard to explain to kids and to parents, focus on my formative assessments feedback and comments rather than grades on the report card. Look where you began and see how well you’ve moved up the
    ladder: learning at your pace, choosing the activity that grabs your interest ( sometimes with teacher support connected to the Central Idea) and using your chosen way to go about your learning – same for kids who are highly independent workers! Your clip just puts the puzzle pieces closer together for me. Don’t think the puzzle can ever be perfect.!!! However we can continue striving and sharing together to help kids love their learning, feel great about their own achievements (not feel different from others) and want to come back for more…Thank you Nina and Rick! Going back to sleep now.
    ways to show your learning;

    • Rick Wormeli

      Wow, a 4 a.m. mind-tornado! This is thrilling, actually. Sometimes we can see the farthest, at least intellectually in the quiet, darker moments of night or early morning. Carolyn’s material is certainly compelling and practical, I’m glad you’re using it. She’s a well-respected friend. If you want to explore more ideas on assessment and grading when differentiating, I posted a number of videos at http://www.stenhouse.com/fiae, each about 5 to 10 minutes long, discussing the more controversial issues. These are meant to be a companion for my book, Fair Isn’t Always Equal: Assessment and Grading in the Differentiated Classroom. Everything at the Website is free, however, so you don’t need to have the book to use the videos. There are even study guides for the books that are free for the downloading at the site that you can use independent of the book to guide teacher and leader interactions with these topics. Let me know if you have more questions or Pearls of Wisdom! — Rick (rwormeli@cox.net)

  5. averil2

    Hi Rick,
    I should be the one saying thank you. I am familiar with your work and videos. Today, I showed this particular clip to our Prep Team. The questions many teachers are asking are answered in this clip. Differentiated Instruction is ‘best practice’.
    As part of an Instructional Rounds team, we were observing the Instructional Core. Differentiated Instruction seems to be a common identified ‘problem of practice’. Are we really differentiating? How do teachers articulate Differentiated Instruction? In a classroom using Differentiated Instruction what would be observed? Your video really helps to develop an understanding of what differentiation looks like when observed.
    The importance of assessment for learning comes across strongly, constantly reflecting and planning to meet students’ needs. The comment 90% of differentiation happens before we actually teach. The importance of planning for differentiation was highlighted for me.
    Your video has also been uploaded into the Instructional Rounds ning that a colleague and I started to report our findings on best practice. Comments have been written in response to your video presentation. Please visit the ning, join and have a look around. If you can suggest further reading, we would really appreciate direction.
    Cheers Nina

    • Rick Wormeli

      Hey Nina — This sounds wonderful. If the Ning is still up and running and it would help for me to respond, send me the connection procedure and i will post. In case you’re interested, ASCD (www.ascd.org) has a video of me in the classroom actually doing and considering DI and its strategies as I plan and implement lessons. It’s DVD called, “At Work in the Differentiated Classroom.” It was released exactly 10 years ago this year, but it still has very practical views on DI. — Rick

      • nina davis

        Hi Rick,
        I’ll certainly be viewing your videos. I’ve shown your video many times to groups of teachers and you can see the ‘aha’ expression on their faces. There are many misconceptions about what differentiation looks, sounds and feels like in a classroom. How to plan tasks with multiple entry points and enable higher order thinking etc. I’ve been working on this myself.
        The ning is ceratinly active and it would be wonderful if you would join and share. The ‘problem of practice’ in an Instructional Round always seems to be about differentiation and that makes sense to me. The link is http://instructionalroundsineducation.ning.com/ and you just sign in. Great to hear from you!
        Cheers Nina

      • nina davis

        Hi Rick,
        The Youtube which I’ve linked to in this post is now a ‘dead link’. This video is fantastic and I’ve been trying to find it somewhere to activate the link as I like to show it to teachers. You explain differentiation so well with a reference to planning. Do you know where I can find it or why the video can’t be found? Hope your year is going well.
        Cheers Nina

  6. Rick Wormeli

    Hey Nina — Thanks for posting this. I’m always up for conversation, if anyone wants to explore any of these or other ideas. — Rick Wormeli, Herndon, VA, USA

    • averil2

      Hi Rick,
      I’ve left a comment on the post and I’m not sure you’ve got it. Your video in the ning has had over 100 views. It’s also been posted on http://mwalker.com.au/. It’s the fact that you describe ‘what it looks like’ that makes your clip really powerful.
      Cheers Nina

      • Rick Wormeli

        Thanks for this. Sorry I haven’t checked back here in a more timely manner. Too many blogs/Tweets/Nings/listserv’s and the like to read and consider these days. Plus, here in the States it’s summer, and wow, the teacher and principal conference schedules are intense. Add to that our family vacations and a lot of work on manuscripts, and here we are already in August. Please feel free to send me a reminder nudge via e-mail (rwormeli@cox.net) if there is something posted that I should read and make a response to it. I’m happy to do that. In case you’re interested, the California Department of Education (Board of Education?) ust did four videos with me on DI, and I found out a few months ago that New Zealand professional development groups were using them as well. ‘Might be something to access for continued DI conversations…. — Rick

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