HITS 5: Differentiated teaching

HITS 5: Differentiated teaching

Chloe Marie and Bez Tran, School Success Managers - Edrolo

What is differentiation and what is all the hype about?

Essentially, differentiation refers to the various ways in which teachers respond to the different needs of their students. It’s a method of ensuring tailored instruction to meet individual learning needs. Typically, we think about differentiation at a task level, but there are other types of differentiation outlined below:

  • Content - what students learn (curriculum) or how they access information
  • Process - activities that students complete to help them master content (class tasks)
  • Product - projects or assessments that allow students to apply an extend their learning (assessment)
  • Learning environment - how a classroom works and feels (routines)

Here, we will focus on Process and Product level differentiation.

Identifying student needs using data on Edrolo

Class Progress

Identifying the abilities of students in relation to the learning objective is essential to differentiation.The class progress data dashboards provides insight into the following:

  • The questions students got correct and incorrect
  • Amount of lesson content viewed for each individual student (and can be sorted!)
  • Average quiz score of individual students (and can be sorted!)
  • Each student’s self reflection on the understanding of the topic (and can be sorted!)

These insights enable you to pinpoint what students know now, and what they are ready to learn next. As a result, targeted interventions for individual students or whole class interventions can be implemented in a timely manner.

An example of a class data grid on Edrolo showing student progress


Students have multiple opportunities to apply their understanding and skills to exam-style questions on the Edrolo platform. These are in lockable assessments, and question sets for each lesson in the textbook course. Teachers are able to find the following insights on question sets and assessments:

  • Whether the student’s response was correct or incorrect for multiple-choice questions
  • Student self reflections (whether or not they are confident in their understanding) for each question
  • Student self-marking for short answer questions using the sample answer, checklist and video solution
  • Class overview of the number of students who addressed and didn’t address the components on the checklist

These insights provide real-time feedback for both teachers and students. This supports students in identifying concepts they need further assistance with and enables teachers to provide targeted intervention.

Data insights for Edrolo textbook question sets

Data insights for Edrolo lockable assessments

Differentiation diamond

Another way to differentiate your class is to use ‘Class Progress’ and/or ‘Submissions’ to create differentiation groups using a differentiation diamond. This helps you to identify different tiers of differentiation. You can then set tasks or differentiate your instruction based on each tier. Be mindful though that your diamond may change as students progress through their learning or when topics change. It is a good idea to revisit this occasionally. 

A differentiation diamond can help teachers identify the tiers of differentiation within a class or activity

Differentiation activities you can try now with Edrolo

Kagan seating

This is a strategic seating plan in which students are grouped in tables of 4. Each group of 4 is structured to have a high, high middle, low middle and a low level student sitting in the group (see diagram below). You can differentiate these groups by using student data that you have collected through the platform. The idea here is that you can build collaborative tasks around ‘shoulder partners’ and ‘face partners’. These students shouldn’t be too far apart in their learning and should therefore be able to have robust discussions. 

A diagram of Kagan seating for a class

Learning menus 

These are a fun way to differentiate your class at a process level that also incorporates some student voice and choice. Give your students a selection of tasks that fit into entree, main and dessert. I like my entrees to focus on literacy and basic skill building. Mains are opportunities for students to really apply their learning and desserts should be fun ways of reviewing content. I then have a minimum number of entrees, main and desserts that students must complete! Eg. Choose 2 entrees, 1 main, 1 dessert. See an example below. You can find an example of the RAFT activity here.

An example learning menu - which can give students choice and scaffold their learning

Differentiated question sets 

Junior Maths - the Edrolo Year 7 and 8 Maths resources have differentiated question sets in Mild, Medium and Spicy. You can assign a spiciness level or get your students to choose based on their needs (remember this may change for a different topic!).  The end of the Chapter also has some Extra Spicy questions for students who you may want to extend.

Questions in the Edrolo junior Maths resource have a spiciness rating - to help teachers and students differentiate learning

Senior Physics textbooks - The VCE Physics textbook also has Mild, Medium and Spicy questions that can be used to differentiate your class. Hot Tip: Check out the Essential Prior knowledge questions to help students remember essential concepts. 

An example of the spiciness rating for questions in the VCE Physics Unit 1&2 textbook

Senior Review Mistakes - Once students have completed a locked assessment on the platform, they will then be able to review their mistakes. This can be used as a way to individualise revision in the class. 

The 'Review mistakes' function in the Edrolo platform helps students to revise

Senior science activities - There are activities that are scaffolded using Bloom’s taxonomy for each topic in the Psychology textbook . This provides multiple entry points for students to apply their scientific understanding and skills.

Activities in the Edrolo VCE Psychology textbook are scaffolded using Bloom's taxonomy

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