Differentiated Instruction Refresher
Course Outline

Course Fee: $80
Course Numbers: EED x701 46778, SED x701 46787
Standard Course Time: 15 hours
Semester Credits: One (1) academic credit at the graduate level (available for an additional fee)
Credit Issued by: Humboldt State University (refer to our Graduate Credit page for credit pricing and details)
Subject Area: Review of Teaching Fundamentals
Author: Steve Heiniger, M.A.

Although this review of teaching fundamentals course is taught as stand alone class, we believe that the best teaching practices involve the seamless integration of all pedagogical practices. This and other courses serve as a review of the most essential teaching components, which, when integrated together, create the backdrop for the larger professional development for practicing teachers.

Introduction/Course Description:

This course is designed to define Differentiated Instruction and demonstrate how educators can get excited about meeting the needs of the varied individuals in their classrooms. It is the goal to provide the classroom teacher with simple ways to start differentiating today, as well as provide an abundance of ideas and tools to better meet the needs of students no matter what subject matter or grade level taught. Differentiated instruction can be adapted to meet different teaching styles. There is no single formula to follow; just basic guidelines which can be implemented as comfort levels increase. In this course, we will also tackle the tough issues of managing and assessing students in a differentiated classroom. It is my hope that as you work your way through this course that you realize and are encouraged by the fact that you most likely already do some differentiating already by using sound instructional strategies.

Course Objectives/Program Outline

This course is broken into major parts called modules. Each module contains content sections. Within each section, we cover one or more of the outlined learning objectives for the module. At the end of each module, there is a quiz. Some modules include a project. The breakdown for modules within this course is as follows:

Module One: What is Differentiated Instruction

Learning Objectives:

  • Provide a working definition for Differentiated Instruction.
  • Describe and offer examples of how to vary the content in order to differentiate instruction.
  • Identify how to vary the processes of how students learn in order to accommodate their individual learning styles, interests, and needs.
  • Explain how to offer a choice of products in order to accommodate the individual learning styles, interests, and needs of students.
  • Investigate the impact that student interest, readiness, and learning style has on instruction.

Project 1: Learning Style Surveys
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Two: Where Do I Start?

Learning Objectives:

  • Identify "Micro" strategies that the classroom teacher can use to begin differentiating instruction.
  • Introduce "Macro" differentiation, and explore ways to allow students to set their own depth of study through the use of Layered Describe Extension Activities and how they differ from a traditional Layered Curriculum
  • Describe Extension Activities and how they differ from a traditional Layered Curriculum.
  • Explore additional "Macro" models of differentiated instruction that can be used for all grade levels and subject matters.

Project 2: Layered Curriculum
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Three-Managing the Classroom Environment

Learning Objectives:

  • Explore the natural benefits of differentiating and how the brain applies.
  • Examine the importance of readiness, interests and individual learning styles.
  • Introduce "anchoring activities" as a way to enhance the differentiated experience.
  • Offer practical suggestions for maintaining a productive atmosphere in which cooperation and collaboration are the goals.

Project 3: Anchoring Activities
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Module Four-Grading and Assessment Tools

Learning Objectives:

  • Highlight sound educational assessment principles.
  • Identify and develop rubrics for classroom use. Understand what a portfolio is, and why they work.
  • Explore ways to construct a portfolio of skills for future use.
  • Identify additional tools to assess learning in a differentiated classroom.

Project 4: Create a Rubric
Quiz: Multiple-choice questions that pertain to objectives above.

Final Exam

Multiple choice questions taken from each module

Final Learning Statement

Learning statements should be in a narrative format – as opposed to an outline format. Depending on individual writing styles Learning statements should be 2-3 pages. The learning statement can vary according to individual style. Your learning statement should answer the broad question of "what did you learn?". To help get you thinking, here are some suggested questions:

  • What are the major concepts of the course that you have learned?
  • What new professional language have you acquired relating to the topic?
  • What teaching techniques for implementing new strategies in the classroom did you come away with?
  • Thinking back to your project reflections, were you surprised at the outcomes?
  • What new resources did you find in the study of the content?
  • As an educator, what new concepts will you now integrate into your teaching?
  • Are there any ideas that presented themselves as enlightening and useful?

--- Sample Course Project ---

Learning Style Surveys - Project #1 Overview

Matching teaching style to learning style can have a dramatic effect on student attention in your classroom. Whether auditory, visual, kinesthetic or read/write, the way you learn is probably the way you teach. Because of this, it is important for you to understand your own learning preference, and thus become aware of the effect that it has on your teaching style.

For this project, we would like for you to participate in a learning style survey. While taking the survey, pay attention to what you might learn about yourself. Think about how you teach your lessons; might you notice a correlation between how you teach and your preferred learning style?

In order to execute your online learning style assessment, conduct a Web search using the following words:

vark-learn questionnaire

The results will provide you with an online learning style survey at vark-learn.com. Complete the online survey, taking note to the results provided in relation to your learning style.

Once you have completed your survey and have identified your learning style(s), let's find out more about how your students learn.

  • Begin by writing down each student's name onto a piece of paper, and categorize the students into the different types of learning styles: auditory, visual, kinesthetic or read/write.
  • Once completed, consider an upcoming lesson. How might what you learn about each student and their learning styles alter your teaching delivery?
For Your Project Reflection Submission

You may wish to use the following questions to guide your thoughts:

  • What type of learner are you? Did it surprise you?
  • Do you feel that the statement "the way you learn is probably the way you teach" is accurate?
  • What did you learn about your students?
  • How might you alter your teaching style to accomodate the different learning styles?

Visit the "Module Projects" section located within the Course Dashboard, and take a moment to share your findings by submitting your project reflection.


Humboldt State University Credit Specifics

  • Academic Credit at the Graduate Level through Humboldt State University (HSU) is offered after successful completion of this course.
  • The 700 series semester credit is post-baccalaureate level appropriate for credentialed teachers which do not require admission to a graduate program.
  • 700-level classes are graduate level classes meant specifically for credential purposes, and are appropriate for license renewal or recertification.
  • Courses are letter graded on official transcripts from HSU.
  • HSU is the northernmost and westernmost institution in the 23-campus California State University (CSU) system.
  • HSU is accredited by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges Senior College and University Commission (WSCUC), a regional accrediting agency serving a diverse membership of public and private higher education institutions.

Summer Option

If you are not currently teaching (ie. Summer break, you are a substitute teacher, etc.), each class offers you the ability to complete coursework independent of a classroom assignment.