Try DI!: Planning &
Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program
Instructor Name: Steve Dahl
Address: Virtual Education Software
PO Box 141106
Spokane, WA 99214
Technical Support: email@example.com
Welcome to Try DI!:
Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program, an
interactive computer-based instruction course. This course is designed to provide
you an opportunity to learn about an instructional framework, Differentiated
Instruction (DI), aimed at creating supportive learning environments for
diverse learning populations. Students will be presented a method for
self-assessment of the extent to which their current instructional approach
reflects the perspective, principles, and practices of the DI approach. The
course reflects an approach that aligns the principles of DI with the
practices of DI. The concept of a “theory of action” will also be provided
within a DI context. The course has also been designed to introduce students
to a range of strategies associated with a DI approach. Strategies included
in this course have been selected on the basis that they are effective in the
widest possible range of educational K-12 settings. This course follows Why DI?: An Introduction to Differentiated
Instruction, which addressed the What,
Why, and Who of a classroom that reflects a DI approach. The focus of Try DI!:
Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program is
on the When, Where, and How of the DI approach.
Try DI!: Planning &
Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program is an invitation to reflect, explore, and anchor
professional practices in the current literature and growing research base in
support of DI. This course is designed
for anyone working with a diverse learning population across the K-12
spectrum and will have the most direct application to professionals serving
students within a mixed-ability classroom setting.
Title: Try DI!: Planning & Preparing a Differentiated
Author: Steve Dahl, M.Ed.
Education Software, inc. 2012
Academic Integrity Statement
The structure and format of
most distance-learning courses presume a high level of personal and academic
integrity in completion and submission of coursework. Individuals enrolled in
a distance-learning course are expected to adhere to the following standards
of academic conduct.
work submitted by the individual (such as papers, assignments, reports,
tests) shall be the student’s own work or appropriately attributed, in part
or in whole, to its correct source. Submission of commercially prepared (or
group prepared) materials as if they are one’s own work is unacceptable.
Aiding Honesty in Others
individual will encourage honesty in others by refraining from providing
materials or information to another person with knowledge that these
materials or information will be used improperly.
of these academic standards will result in the assignment of a failing grade
and subsequent loss of credit for the course.
Level of Application
This course is designed as
the first course in a series of courses on meeting the needs of a diverse
learning population served across the K-12 continuum.
differentiated instruction is defined and the distinctive elements of a
classroom where DI is practiced.
of the rationale supporting implementation of a DI approach (i.e., why DI?).
essential principles from which a DI approach is developed and implemented.
understanding of a teacher reflection strategy aligned with principles of DI.
need for alignment between instructional paradigm, educational priorities,
principles of differentiation, and practices selected on a daily basis.
understanding of a self-assessment tool used to reflect on current practice
in comparison with elements of the DI approach.
importance of having a “theory of action” as a teacher and the potential for
elements entailed in the DI approach to enhance current practice.
several methods for gathering information about student-specific
relationship between instructional decision making and student
10) Identify DI strategies for designing environments
that reflect Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles.
11) Articulate some of the challenges when
differentiating based on student readiness.
12) Demonstrate understanding of strategies for
differentiation to meet student-specific needs.
13) Articulate the advantages of differentiating with
regard to student interest.
14) Explain the relationship between planning effective
instruction and student motivation.
15) Demonstrate understanding of methods for flexible
grouping commonly used in a DI classroom.
16) Identify general considerations to make when
differentiating based on student-specific variables in the areas of interest
and learning profiles.
17) Explain the general parameters necessary for
creating a positive learning environment.
18) Outline a variety of teaching decisions that could
be made in response to observations of students struggling to maintain
19) Articulate a number of instructional management
strategies for improving the learning environment.
20) Understand the significance of creating
opportunities for students to reflect on and represent progress, achievement,
21) Outline the relevance of the DI approach to the
topics of “traditional grading,” “competition,” “fairness,” and “equity.”
22) Articulate difference between “assessment for
learning” and “assessment of learning” within a DI approach.
23) Outline the range of assessment choices and barriers
most often encountered when implementing a differentiated classroom.
24) Identify possible steps of a course of action for
teachers transitioning from a non-DI (i.e., “one size fits all”) approach to
a DI (i.e., “whatever it takes”) approach.
25) Understand the functionality of an observation tool
that reflects both the theories and practices with a DI approach.
This course, Try DI!:
Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program, has
been divided into four chapters. As the second course in a multi-course
series on Differentiated Instruction, the emphasis is on providing examples
of strategies and methods associated with a DI approach. The course has been
organized to ensure that each strategy, or idea on “how to” implement DI, is an
extension of the DI approach as a whole and not just presented as a
disjointed list of ideas to try. The first course in the series, Why DI?:An Introduction to Differentiated
Instruction, focused on the What,
Why, and Who of a classroom that reflects a
Differentiated Instruction approach. Try DI!: Planning & Preparing a Differentiated
Instruction Program, will indirectly address the conditions, or When, Where, and How of the DI approach. Because
DI is not a recipe for teaching or a prescriptive model, the structure of the
course reflects a range of entry points for educators to consider as they
reflect on the considerations teachers make when differentiating.
Chapter 1: How
DI Provides Teachers a Theory of Action
Chapter 2: How
DI Equips Teachers to Become Students of Their Students
Chapter 3: How
DI Provides a Framework for Creating a Community of Learners
Chapter 4: How
DI Promotes Equity and Excellence
In Chapter 1: How DI Provides
Teachers a Theory of Action, we will begin by reviewing the rationale for
Differentiated Instruction presented in the first course in this series, Why DI?:An Introduction to Differentiated
Instruction. Using the terminology
from the first course, a framework for reflecting on how best to create a
differentiated classroom will be provided. Principles that best describe a
non-prescriptive DI approach across the K-12 spectrum will be outlined. Using
these principles, a tool for reflection will be presented for educators to employ
as they consider elements of effective instruction from within a DI
perspective. The concept of a “theory of action” will be presented and the
connections to this concept will be explored in relation to the DI approach. At
the conclusion of Chapter 1, course participants will complete a reflection
In Chapter 2: How DI Equips
Teachers to Become Students of their Students, we will articulate the
connection between instructional planning and student readiness. Several
methods for identifying student-specific interests will be provided. The
relevance of these student-specific variables will be expounded on as a means
for creating conditions for teacher-student collaboration. The connection
between instructional decision-making and student motivation will be
emphasized. DI teaching strategies
will be outlined in support of the principles of DI explored in Chapter
In Chapter 3: How DI Provides a Framework for Creating a
Community of Learners, we will explore the advantages of differentiating
with student interests and learning profiles in mind. The curricular,
instructional, and environmental variables teachers consider in a DI
classroom will be explored. The importance of creating a positive classroom
work environment will be discussed. Several methods for grouping students
flexibly in a DI classroom will be provided. With an emphasis on the
teacher’s awareness of each student’s readiness to benefit from instructional
planning, a variety of methods for matching tasks, activities, and learning
environment to students will be reviewed.
We will also identify the advantages of the DI approach when designing
learning environments that reflect the Universal Design for Learning (UDL)
backward design approach
In Chapter 4: How DI Promotes
Equity and Excellence, we will explore the significance of creating
opportunities for students to represent and reflect on their own progress,
achievement, and understanding within a DI classroom. In order to do this,
the topics of “traditional grading,” “competition,” “fairness,” and “equity” will
be explored from a DI perspective. The difference between “assessment for
learning” and “assessment of learning” and the importance of assessment being
motivating to students will also be considered. An outline of the range of
barriers most often encountered when implementing a differentiated classroom
will be provided. Course participants
will also reflect on the best course of action for teachers in the initial
stages transitioning from a “one size fits all” approach to a “whatever it
takes” approach. A multi-purpose reflection tool will be provided that ties
together many of the key objectives from the course. A reflection exercise
will also provide a sense of professional development direction.
chapter contains additional “handouts” that cover specific topics from the
chapter in greater depth. They are
provided for you to read, ponder, and apply to the setting in which you
work. Some of the handouts are directly
related to the concepts and content of the specific chapter, while others are
indirectly related to provide extended learning connections.
Complete all four
information sections covering showing a competent understanding of the
material presented in each section.
Complete all four section
examinations, showing a competent understanding of the material presented.
Complete a review of any section on which your examination score was
Retake any section examination, after completing an information review,
to increase that examination score to a minimum of 70% (maximum of three
attempts). *Please note: Minimum exam
score requirements may vary by college or university; therefore, you should
refer to your course addendum to determine what your minimum exam score
Complete a course evaluation form at the end of the course.
At the end of
each course section, you will be expected to complete an examination designed
to assess your knowledge. You may take these exams a total of three times. Your
last score will save, not the highest score. After your third attempt, each examination
will lock and not allow further access.
The average from your exam scores will be printed on your certificate. As this is a self-paced computerized
instruction program, you may review course information as often as necessary.
You will not be able to exit any examinations until you have answered all
questions. If you try to exit the exam before you complete all questions,
your information will be lost. You are expected to complete the entire exam
in one sitting.
Try DI!: Planning &
Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program has been developed with the widest possible
audience in mind because the core principles of a differentiated approach can
be applied K-12. The primary goal of the course is to provide an overview of
DI principles as well as DI strategies that will help teachers to implement a
“theory of action.” The course will invoke a metaphor for teaching that is
woven throughout the course and extends as the course unfolds. The course
offers a variety of opportunities for reflection and culminates with an
observation tool that will help professionals to align their theories with
the actions they take in the classroom.
Dahl, the instructor of record, has served as a district-level administrator
overseeing a variety of federal programs, such as Special Education and Title
1, for the past five years. He has served as an Adjunct Faculty Member for Western Washington University’s
Woodring College of Education teaching both
graduate and undergraduate courses for general education pre-service
teachers. He has a Master's Degree in Special Education and has completed
post-Master’s coursework to obtain a Washington State Administrator
Credential, which certifies him to oversee programs ranging from Preschool
settings through 12th grade (as well as post-secondary vocational
programs for 18-21 year-old students).
He has 17 years of combined experience in resource-room special
education classrooms, inclusion support in a comprehensive high school, and provision
of support to adults with disabilities in accessing a wide range of community
Contacting the Instructor
may contact the instructor by emailing Steve at firstname.lastname@example.org or
calling him at 509-891-7219, Monday through Friday, 8:00 a.m. - 5:00 p.m.
PST. Phone messages will be answered within 24 hours. Phone conferences will be limited to ten minutes per student,
per day, given that this is a self-paced instructional program. Please do not
contact the instructor about technical problems, course glitches, or other
issues that involve the operation of the course.
you have questions or problems related to the operation of this course,
please try everything twice. If the problem persists please check our support
pages for FAQs and known issues at www.virtualeduc.com and also the Help
section of your course.
you need personal assistance then email email@example.com or call (509)
891-7219. When contacting technical support, please know your course version
number (it is located at the bottom left side of the Welcome Screen) and your
operating system, and be seated in front of the computer at the time of your
Minimum Computer Requirements
Please refer to VESi’s
website: www.virtualeduc.com or contact VESi if you have further questions
about the compatibility of your operating system.
the addendum regarding Grading Criteria, Course Completion Information, Items
to be Submitted and how to submit your completed information. The addendum
will also note any additional course assignments that you may be required to
complete that are not listed in this syllabus.
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Educator's Journey Toward Multiple Intelligences Handout. (Source: Scott Seider, assistant professor of education at Boston
Threats to Student Success
Handout. (Source: Adapted from Kovalik & Olsen,
2001, pp. 2.9-2.10)
teaching practices: Using curriculum differentiation to respond to students’
diversity (printed by UNESCO in Paris, France).
The Public Education Leadership Project, Harvard Graduate School
of Education and Harvard Business School.
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