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Course Descriptions

Try DI!: Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program

EDUC 600

Try DI!: Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program has been developed with the widest possible audience in mind because the core principles of a differentiated approach can be applied K-12. The primary goal of the course is to provide an overview of DI principles as well as DI strategies that will help teachers to implement a “theory of action.” The course will invoke a metaphor for teaching that is woven throughout the course and extends as the course unfolds. The course offers a variety of opportunities for reflection and culminates with an observation tool that will help professionals to align their theories with the actions they take in the classroom.


  1. Understand how differentiated instruction is defined and the distinctive elements of a classroom where DI is practiced.
  2. Outline elements of the rationale supporting implementation of a DI approach (i.e., why DI?).
  3. Identify the essential principles from which a DI approach is developed and implemented.
  4. Demonstrate understanding of a teacher reflection strategy aligned with principles of DI.
  5. Understand the need for alignment between instructional paradigm, educational priorities, principles of differentiation, and practices selected on a daily basis.
  6. Demonstrate understanding of a self-assessment tool used to reflect on current practice in comparison with elements of the DI approach.
  7. Understand the importance of having a “theory of action” as a teacher and the potential for elements entailed in the DI approach to enhance current practice.
  8. Identify several methods for gathering information about student-specific readiness. 
  9. Understand the relationship between instructional decision making and student motivation. 
  10. Identify DI strategies for designing environments that reflect Universal Design for Learning (UDL) principles.
  11. Articulate some of the challenges when differentiating based on student readiness.
  12. Demonstrate understanding of strategies for differentiation to meet student-specific needs.
  13. Articulate the advantages of differentiating with regard to student interest.
  14. Explain the relationship between planning effective instruction and student motivation.
  15. Demonstrate understanding of methods for flexible grouping commonly used in a DI classroom.
  16. Identify general considerations to make when differentiating based on student-specific variables in the areas of interest and learning profiles.
  17. Explain the general parameters necessary for creating a positive learning environment.
  18. Outline a variety of teaching decisions that could be made in response to observations of students struggling to maintain progress.
  19. Articulate a number of instructional management strategies for improving the learning environment.
  20. Understand the significance of creating opportunities for students to reflect on and represent progress, achievement, and understanding.
  21. Outline the relevance of the DI approach to the topics of “traditional grading,” “competition,” “fairness,” and “equity.”
  22. Articulate difference between “assessment for learning” and “assessment of learning” within a DI approach.
  23. Outline the range of assessment choices and barriers most often encountered when implementing a differentiated classroom.
  24. Identify possible steps of a course of action for teachers transitioning from a non-DI (i.e., “one size fits all”) approach to a DI (i.e., “whatever it takes”) approach.
  25. Understand the functionality of an observation tool that reflects both the theories and practices with a DI approach.


Title:                 Try DI!: Planning & Preparing a Differentiated Instruction Program

Author:             Steve Dahl, M.Ed.

Publisher:         Virtual Education Software, inc. 2012