Using Materials Effectively to Differentiate InstructionHave you ever been frustrated when attempting to plan differentiated lessons? Though “differentiation” is a rather simple concept, it is complex to implement successfully.

Most teachers understand that any resource used to differentiate instruction must have the requisite adaptions for the students being taught. For example, materials being used to teach ELLs should have multi-lingual glossaries, linguistic accommodations, and culturally relevant examples and activities to engage ELL students. Materials being used to engage Gifted and Talented students would have extension/ enrichment activities, higher-level questions, and options for inquiry-based learning.  And, for RtI, the materials should have options for each tier of intervention. [Read more…]

However, to successfully differentiate instruction, you have to drill down even further and ensure that not just the materials but rather, the particular citations in the material(s )you want  to use to differentiate instruction are (1) aligned to the standards being taught, and (2) have the adaptions the students need.


Students won’t learn what they are not taught. In order for your students to learn the knowledge and skills the standards require, the citations (i.e., pages, lessons, videos in the materials) you are using must be aligned to those standards.  If the point of differentiating instruction is to help all students learn the standards, the citations you use to differentiate instruction must be aligned to the standard(s) you are teaching.

For example, below are 3 supplemental materials you have available for 4th grade math. Each material has citations that you have verified to be aligned to the standard that is the focus of your lesson. You now have choices and can move to step two in selecting materials.



Beyond being aligned to the standards, the citations you use to differentiate instruction must be developmentally appropriate for and/or must contain the supports your students need in order to learn the information.  A Learning List’s Editorial Review for a popular material points out: “Some lessons, quizzes, and accompanying activities may be too advanced for emerging readers; audio readers are provided.”

In order to use materials successfully to differentiate instruction, you must make sure that the citations in the materials you use are aligned to the standards you intend to teach, and that those citations also have the adaptions your students need to learn the information presented.

Learning List’s reviews and tools make the process of selecting and using materials for differentiation easier.  Our Alignment Comparison tool helps you identify which of your materials are aligned to the standards you want to teach. Our Alignment Reports list specific citations in each material that we have verified to be fully aligned to each standard, as well as other citations that we found not to be completely aligned. And, our Editorial Reviews explain the adaptions each material contains for the different student groups and the instructional resources provided to help teachers differentiate instruction. Using this information, and knowledge of your students’ needs, will make planning for differentiation easier.

Contact us if you’d like to learn more about how Learning List can help you choose and use materials effectively for differentiating instruction.