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Differentiated Instruction for Mathematics

A:  Overview

Howard Gardner states “The biggest mistake of the past centuries in teaching has been to treat all children as if they were variants of the same individual and thus to feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same way.” In today’s educational settings, the student population is highly individualistic and widely diverse in its abilities, needs and backgrounds yet the mastery of the same learning standards are expected of all of these learners. Research tells us that not all children learn in the same manner or at the same pace. Every student has a profile of strengths and needs that affect his or her learning. Examining these strengths can guide teachers in designing flexible instructional strategies that can allow all students to access mathematical concepts. This course helps participants understand the diverse needs of learners in their classroom and provides strategies and techniques to provide students with multiple ways of representing mathematical concepts, engaging with the material, and expressing their levels of understanding.


  • to develop an understanding of the nature and purpose of differentiated instruction;
  • to review current brain research to more clearly understand how students learn best, areas of student strengths and needs;
  • to identify students’ diverse learning strengths and needs, including ELL, and to provide effective math instruction, supports, and interventions that capitalize on those strengths as a way to address the needs;
  • to utilize the backward design process as a model for creating differentiated curriculum;
  • to design and implement multiple approaches to mathematics content, process and assessment to help all learners be successful;
  • to explore the mechanics of flexible grouping, setting, space and time in a differentiated classroom;
  • to develop and implement ongoing assessments that identify student understandings and misconceptions in math;
  • to develop collegial habits those promote reflection and improve classroom instruction for all students.


B:  Course Objectives

Teachers taking this course will:

  • Understand the characteristics of teaching for differentiated learning, including the current research and literature
  • Be able to differentiate content, activities, and assessment in mathematics at all levels;
  • Design tiered activities with multiple representations of mathematical concepts, multiple ways of engaging with the material and expressing their levels of understanding,
  • Develop skills in differentiating activities and adjusting questions,
  • Map out learning contracts for diverse students,
  • Expand their ability to set up a differentiated classroom,
  • Expand their ability to assess students in a differentiated classroom.


 Course description provided by Marcie Abramson.