- Assess the students' interests, their present levels of performance in all academic domain and how they learn best (learning profiles)
- Select a standard(s) that will be addresses for a particular unit of instruction
- Conduct a pre-assessment to determine what pre-requisite skills the students have and do not have and the knowledge and skills they may have already mastered related to the standard(s).
- Based on the pre-assessment, set differentiated instructional objectives selecting the "big ideas" (what all students will learn), and additional instructional objectives for most students, and advanced instructional objectives for some students. When including a student with severe intellectual disabilities, it may be necessary to set individual instructional objectives if the "big ideas" are not developmentally appropriate for that student. Also, for students with ASD and other disabilities, additional instructional objectives can be set to address their IEP goals within the lessons for the instructional unit. This allows students to learn social, communication, academic, and independent functioning skills within the ongoing instructional activities in the classrooms enhancing motivation and generalization.
- Plan differentiated teaching procedures to address the learning profiles and interests of the students. For example, students with ASD typically require active engagement strategies, the use of visual supports and instructional technology, and motivational strategies to fully benefit from classroom instruction.
- Plan differentiated assessment procedures to allow students multiples ways to demonstrate what they learned. This can include pencil/paper tests, essays/reports, oral presentations, artwork, music, drama, PowerPoint presentations, group projects, answering questions orally, etc. Make sure there are assessment procedures selected for all of the differentiated instructional objectives.
The final "Yeah, but:" Teachers will often say that they have to "teach to the test" preventing them from using differentiated instruction and assessment procedures. I say this: Of course, you can teach test taking strategies and get students comfortable with the format they will see on the tests, but that should not be your sole instructional approach. It should be a small part of what is done throughout the school year with some extra emphasis a month or two before the tests take place. Teaching to the test does not address the unique learning needs of the students in today's classrooms, does not provide authentic learning experiences, and will not likely teach students to love learning or allow teachers to love teaching.