"Responsive or differentiated teaching means a teacher is as attuned to students' varied learning needs as to the requirements of a thoughtful and well-articulated curriculum."

Tomlinson & McTighe, Integrating Differentiated Instruction and Understanding by Design, 2006

Our district's model for differentiated instruction is a collaborative model. One DST (differentiation support teacher) is at each of our elementary schools and two are at our middle school and our junior high. Working together as a team, all teachers can plan and carry out effective, content-rich ways to provide all students with learning experiences and challenges from the district curriculum at a level that matches their needs, readiness, and potential.


Image credit: http://www.edutopia.org/blog/teacher-collaboration-strategies-ben-johnson?page=3


Classroom Teachers/Content Area Teachers/Related Arts and Specials Teachers

  • analyze the current curriculum content in order to set appropriate expectations
  • plan and develop units incorporating appropriate instructional methods and groupings
  • continually analyze student data, assess progress and set further learning goals for students
  • communicate about differentiation practices with parents, teachers, and administrators
  • teach and co-teach students in flexible groups
  • plan or co-plan tasks and products with students
  • collaborate with differentiation support teachers, as well as other specialists

Differentiation Support Teachers

  • collaborate with classroom teachers to plan for instruction and to provide resources
  • continually analyze student data, assess progress and set further learning goals for students
  • develop and maintain a reservoir of materials to support the curriculum
  • teach and co-teach students in flexible groups
  • teach and co-teach students who demonstrate readiness for more challenging concepts in groups or individually
  • model differentiation strategies
  • meet regularly with other differentiation support teachers to maintain the continuity of differentiation in District 39
  • help administrators plan for DI professional development
  • coordinate with principals to promote differentiation
  • communicate with administrators, staff, parents, and community


  • keep up-to-date on issues and trends in differentiation
  • provide teachers opportunities to learn about differentiation through staff development
  • encourage and support teacher collaboration
  • obtain resources to assist teachers in planning quality lessons
  • facilitate communication between the staff, parents, and the community