Differentiated Instruction: Maximizing the Learning of All Students

Perspectives & Resources



By completing the entire Perspectives & Resources section and reviewing the accompanying activities, the learner will:

  • Understand the key elements of differentiated instruction
  • Differentiate instruction based on students’ readiness level, interests, and learning needs
  • Differentiate instruction for three main instructional components: content, process, and product
  • Evaluate and grade differentiated products
  • Prepare your students and your classroom for differentiated instruction
  • Take the first steps toward implementing differentiated instruction


This IRIS Module aligns with the following licensure and program standards and topic areas. Click the arrows below to learn more.

CAEP standards for the accreditation of educators are designed to improve the quality and effectiveness not only of new instructional practitioners but also the evidence-base used to assess those qualities in the classroom.

  • Standard 1: Content and Pedagogical Knowledge

CEC standards encompass a wide range of ethics, standards, and practices created to help guide those who have taken on the crucial role of educating students with disabilities.

  • Standard 1: Learner Development and Individual Learning Differences
  • Standard 5: Instructional Planning and Strategies

The DEC Recommended Practices are designed to help improve the learning outcomes of young children (birth through age five) who have or who are at-risk for developmental delays or disabilities. Please note that, because the IRIS Center has not yet developed resources aligned with DEC Topic 8: Transition, that topic is not currently listed on this page.


  • INS1. Practitioners, with the family, identify each child’s strengths, preferences, and interests to engage the child in active learning.
  • INS2. Practitioners, with the family, identify skills to target for instruction that help a child become adaptive, competent, socially connected, and engaged and that promote learning in natural and inclusive environments.
  • INS3. Practitioners gather and use data to inform decisions about individualized instruction.
  • INS4. Practitioners plan for and provide the level of support, accommodations, and adaptations needed for the child to access, participate, and learn within and across activities and routines.
  • INS5. Practitioners embed instruction within and across routines, activities, and environments to provide contextually relevant learning opportunities.
  • INS6. Practitioners use systematic instructional strategies with fidelity to teach skills and to promote child engagement and learning.
  • INS7. Practitioners use explicit feedback and consequences to increase child engagement, play, and skills.
  • INS8. Practitioners use peer-mediated intervention to teach skills and to promote child engagement and learning.
  • INS9. Practitioners use functional assessment and related prevention, promotion, and intervention strategies across environments to prevent and address challenging behavior.
  • INS10. Practitioners implement the frequency, intensity, and duration of instruction needed to address the child’s phase and pace of learning or the level of support needed by the family to achieve the child’s outcomes or goals.
  • INS11. Practitioners provide instructional support for young children with disabilities who are dual language learners to assist them in learning English and in continuing to develop skills through the use of their home language.
  • INS12. Practitioners use and adapt specific instructional strategies that are effective for dual language learners when teaching English to children with disabilities.
  • INS13. Practitioners use coaching or consultation strategies with primary caregivers or other adults to facilitate positive adult-child interactions and instruction intentionally designed to promote child learning and development.

InTASC Model Core Teaching Standards are designed to help teachers of all grade levels and content areas to prepare their students either for college or for employment following graduation.

  • Standard 1: Learning Development
  • Standard 2: Learning Differences
  • Standard 3: Learning Environments
  • Standard 6: Assessment
  • Standard 7: Planning for Instruction

NCATE standards are intended to serve as professional guidelines for educators. They also overview the “organizational structures, policies, and procedures” necessary to support them.

  • Standard 1: Candidate Knowledge, Skills, and Professional Dispositions

When you are ready, proceed to Page 1.

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