Library of Congress

TPS Quarterly

The Library of Congress > Teachers > TPS Program > Research and Current Thinking

For each issue, TPS partners submit summaries of and links to online resources—articles, research reports, Web sites, and white papers—that provide research and current thinking relating to the theme. This issue's Research & Current Thinking focuses on differentiated instruction.

“Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom” (Keith Lenz and Jean Schumaker, ERIC/OSEP Digest #E645) describes a process consisting of nine steps for planning and implementing materials adaptations to allow students greater access to the information to be taught.

“Differentiated Instruction” (Tracey Hall, CAST Universal Design for Learning) defines and identifies components of differentiated instruction, provides guidelines that make differentiation possible for teachers to attain, and lists a variety of resources and links to learn more about differentiated instruction.

“Differentiated Instruction: Flexibility Without Breaking” (Shellie Hipsky, Robert Morris University, Essays in Education) reflects on practical strategies and provides some “stretches” that classroom teachers can do to meet the needs of all students. Suggestions and approaches include tiered instruction, flexible grouping, anchor activities, and learning contracts.

Differentiation: From Planning to Practice, Grades 6-12 (Rick Wormeli) takes readers step-by-step from the blank page to a fully crafted differentiation lesson. Wormeli shows middle and high school teachers the behind-the-scenes planning that goes into effective lesson design for diverse classrooms. Wormeli demonstrates how to weave common and novel differentiation strategies into all subjects and offers clear advice about what to do when things don't go as expected. Wormeli also provides an overview of the cognitive science behind differentiation as well as more than two-dozen tools to help implement differentiation in the classroom.

“Making a Difference: An Interview with Carol Ann Tomlinson” (Anthony Rebora, explains how differentiated instruction works and why we need it now. Tomlinson describes the hallmarks of a well-run differentiated classroom. She also lists the key things a teacher needs to think about when developing a differentiated lesson plan and talks about how differentiated instruction fits into the current environment of mandated standards and standardized test scores. She addresses building “language bridges” to help English-language learners and the importance of teachers’ feelings of fulfillment in their roles.

“Primary Sources and Differentiated Instruction” (Dr. Paul Moessinger, Waynesburg University) describes two examples of differentiating instruction using primary sources taken from a curriculum guide entitled, “The Social History of the United States: Melting Pot or Salad Bowl?” The article includes a link to the complete curriculum guide, which features primary sources from the Library of Congress.

“The Rationale for Differentiated Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms” (Carol Ann Tomlinson, Chapter 2 from How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed-Ability Classrooms, 2nd Edition) describes how people learn best—the engine that drives effective differentiation. She also focuses on understanding the needs of both advanced and struggling learners, outlining principles for coaching advanced learners for growth and ensuring that struggling learners maximize their capacity in school.

“Universally Designed Instruction” (Raymond Orkwis, ERIC/OSEP Digest #E641) presents seven general principles of universal design developed by the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Orkwis focuses on the importance of flexibility in curriculum, teacher methods, classroom environment, and assessment. He also stresses the importance of including and supporting every student and being prepared and organized in order to maintain a flexible, intentional approach to differentiation.