Instruction for
Diverse Learners

In the early stages of inclusive education, many educators and parents focused on the social opportunities for students with disabilities and other struggling students that were increased by sharing the same classrooms with general education peers. Within just a few years, socialization, as it was referred to, was not the only recognized benefit that was sought. Academic progress became an equally valued outcome of inclusive practices.

Inclusive practices are an integral characteristic of schools that achieve strong measures of academic success. Why? Because in inclusive schools, the following characteristics are in place:

  1. Students are educated whenever appropriate in the general education classroom with teachers skilled in the content taught.
  2. Access and opportunities to progress in the general education curriculum is greatly facilitated through inclusive practices.
  3. High expectations for all students are the norm.
  4. Instruction is differentiated to engage students on the basis of the skill sets, interests, and learning styles.
  5. Teachers use flexible grouping that includes varied small group instruction, large group, and paired instruction.
  6. Students are actively engaged in instruction and in their own learning.
  7. Instructional accommodations and scaffolding are used to increase access to learning and academic success.

This resource page features a variety of instructional strategies that are effective for diverse learners. In addition, we bring you a special section that introduces strategies, software, and hardware that increase access, participation, and academic success for all learners.

Differentiation Literature

The Differentiated Classroom: Responding to the Needs of All Learners By Carol A. Tomlinson Integrating Differentiated Instruction & Understanding by Design: Connecting Content and Kids By Carol A. Tomlinson Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement By Robert Marzano Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom: How to Reach and Teach All Learners Grades 3-12 By Diane… Read more

Differentiating with Web 2.0 Applications

Article: Differentiate Teaching and Learning with Web 2.0 Tools Article: Differentiating Instruction Using Web 2.0 Links: Technology Tools for Differentiation… Read more

Take a Sensory Motor Break

Here is a great handout with 10 Minute Sensory Motor Strategies from Fun and Function.  This handout is perfect for children ages 3 to teenagers. It has several ten minute strategies that focus on how to refocus tired, hyper or restless students without leaving the classroom. Take a Sensory-Motor Break Handout… Read more

Celebrate Ourselves

Most human beings enjoy sharing information and stories about themselves. Students are no different. Revealing special things about themselves can help students develop confidence and trust among their peers. This sharing of information can also assist teachers in finding out more about their students and plan lessons that tap into the needs and preferences of… Read more

Augmentative and Alternative Communication

Using Pictures to Improve Communication and Instruction What is augmentative and alternative communication?  Augmentative and alternative communication (AAC) is a method of communication that is used by individuals who have difficulty with or are unable to use standard forms of communication – spoken language, sign language, body language, and handwritten language – to express themselves… Read more

Visual Learning Methodologies

Dave Edyburn, Ph.D., Department of Exceptional Education, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, emphasizes the importance of access: “When a student cannot access curriculum learning materials, it follows that he will not be able to engage in learning nor meet the intended learning outcomes”. One form of access that Edyburn highlighted is cognitive access, which must be considered… Read more

Books for All

Many students have difficulty reading printed text and therefore have limited access to learning through books. Bookshare is an organization with the purpose of making text available to students with vision impairments or other print disabilities. They have over 34,000 books and 150 periodicals available that are converted to Braille, large print, or text to speech audio… Read more

Differentiate Instruction with Online Tools for Writing

Many children with disabilities struggle with writing assignments in school. Whether the difficulty lies with the physical act of writing (holding a pencil, using a keyboard, forming letters), writing mechanics (grammar and spelling) or getting thoughts onto paper, writing can become a painful task for students with disabilities.  As writing becomes a dreaded activity, students&rsquo… Read more

Independent Study Projects

Differentiating Instruction for students with varying abilities within a classroom can be challenging. This is especially true in middle and high school classrooms. Assigning independent study projects related to the course content can be an effective and fun strategy to promote mastery of content while allowing students to showcase their talents. Here are some tips… Read more

Virtual Manipulatives in the Inclusive Math Class

Using concrete and pictorial images in mathematics instruction is a research-proven strategy for many learners including students with disabilities. This strategy is commonly known as the Concrete-Representational-Abstract (CRA) Instructional Approach. This three sequence framework ultimately helps students make a connection between the concrete stage and abstract stage to achieve mastery of each mathematical concept. The… Read more