We all appreciate the power of effective differentiation so here are the number one quick ideas from a group of Heads of Departments to ensure the varied needs of learners are met within subject specific areas.


  • With such a variety of ability when setting a task provide different levels of mastery. Can I play the chorus? Highlight in a different colour the ‘tricky bit’ – Can I get to here? Can I play the whole score? Can I play with one hand? Can I play the chords and melody? Can I play from memory?


  • Minimum word counts for written responses
  • Varied model answers under a visualiser – aspirational for stretch and challenge/structured support to aid understanding


  • Timeline – give groups a selection of index cards with key events from the topic being studied. All groups have the same card but each group arranges them differently from chronological/most important/biggest impact etc. They can even stand up and do this holding the cards engaging visual learners, kinaesthetic learners and interpersonal learners (they’re debating).


  • On the bottom of a PowerPoint slide have an extension task or KILLER QUESTION – anyone who completes receives an additional school reward


  • When students are creating scenarios to explore a theme or topic provide a structured example with a beginning, middle, and end (at times even a script) for less confident and for the stretch and challenge give them a scenario title to respond to


  • Cheat sheet for written work which includes key word and definition bank which students can select from
  • Practical – students select difficulty level so they have ownership of their progress



  • Ask students to solve a problem/complete a task. To stretch and challenge, the students need to think about the most efficient way – for example the least lines of code/least amount of steps.


  • Sentence starters for essay writing
  • Stretch more able by writing E on their work ‘elaborate on evidence’


  • Using memes to summarise political statements or ideas – a range of images of varying difficulty provided.


  • Linguistic terminology differs by class and length of PEEAC paragraph
  • Allocating students one line each to analyse so they all participate in class analysis of poetry. Allocate more complex/symbolic lines to identified students


  • Task cards allow you to give students a range of content. Answering task cards can also be a small-group activity, adding variety to classes that normally focus on solo or large-group learning.  First, make or identify tasks and questions that you’d typically find on worksheets, textbooks or exam paper.  Second, print and laminate cards that each contain a single task or question. Finally, set up stations around your classroom and pair students together to rotate through them.


  • Graduated questions on PowerPoint
  • Visual prompts and students assign subject key words explaining why


  • Lesson objectives split into three clear levels. Must, should, could. Students can select and be guided by the teacher which tasks they are going to complete







2 thoughts on “‘Go To’ differentiation strategies

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