Bring Learning Alive from All:
A Dozen Different Ways

Explore a dozen different ways to adapt your learning environment to meet individual needs. You can also explore the resource examples for Single Shard.

The following 12 links will help you explore the resources on this page.

If you'd like more information about differentiated classrooms, check out What is Differentiated Material.



Try different focal points such as a novel, video, map, experience, audio, photo, object, or activity rather than the textbook or lecture. Consider starting with a poem, video clip, or other resource. Consider primary resources such as statistics or primary source documents.

Use the Internet to locate web-based materials that would go with a book, photo, poem, map, or material.

Describe the focal point (i.e., book, photo, statistic, document, etc) and a web-based resource that might accompany the focal point. Include the title and web address of this resource.

Explore the primary resources and "real-world" data sites. Design a standards-based activity that requires students to use an authentic data source.

Provide the title and URL of the data site, grade level, content-area standard, and an overview of the activity.


Try different tools such as a keyboard, camera, software, PDA. Most computers are used for word processing and email. Consider other tools that might address individual differences. For example, students who have difficulty writing with a paper and pencil might have more success using an Alphasmart or other type of electronic keyboard. Students who have trouble seeing the "big picture" in a project, might find a concept mapping tool such as Inspiration useful. For example, students might use the story map template instead of writing a book report. Students might tell the story in chronological order using the Timeliner software. Rather than logging a science project or writing the steps in an art process using paper and a pencil, try a PDA and a digital camera.

Explore the software packages and online tools available for making concept maps, timelines, worksheets, and puzzles. Try one of these tools. Share your experiences.

Provide the name of the tool and your experience using the tool for a personal or professional application. Discuss one way you could use it with students.



Try different materials such as animations, experiences, and reading levels. Students get bored with traditional "chalk talk" activities. Consider adding video, audio, animation, and other active visual and auditory materials. If students lack empathy for a character in a book or figure from history, provide an experience such as an online interview to provide them with experiences. When students lack reading skills, be sure to provide a variety of reading levels for a given assignment. For example, Naturescapes provides three reading levels and a webquest for each topic.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Explore the NatureScapes project.

Discuss a content area where you think this type of approach (different reading levels) would be particularly useful. Provide three short paragraphs as examples of different reading levels for the same content.

Option 2: Select a specific content-area standard. Locate three web pages with content at different reading levels that provide the same "experience" or content to be used in an assignment. Or, choose three different web pages with content that provide different perspectives, channels of communication (audio, video, graphics), or levels of depth. Use the 42eXplore project for help in locating good materials.

Provide the topic, standard, three web addresses and a short explanation of why these three were chosen.



Try different combinations such as mnemonics, charts, or organizers. Some students need information presented in different combinations. For example, rather than providing a text review of a text assignment, try adding an auditory or visual element. For example, rather than text mnemonic, try a song or a visual glossary. How about a chart of science terms or a concept map? Consider visual connections for each chapter of a book including photos of a book's setting.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Create a visual organizer that students could use to understand a topic you teach such as a photo glossary, Inspiration concept map, or chart. Use a technology tool such as a word processor, Inspiration, spreadsheet, or other tool to create the document.

Integrate a relevant visual resource in Word, PowerPoint, or Inspiration document.

Option 2: Create a student activity that requires students to create a mnemonic device, chart, or other kind of organizer. The activity should include a specific standard, and description of how the materials will be created and shared in a class.

Describe the standard, activity, technology tools, management, and assessment.

Option 3: Locate a website that provides lots of good visual, auditory, or other elements that would assist a student who might be having difficulty understanding a concept. For example, locate photos to go with key ideas in a novel students are reading.

Provide the title and address of the website along with a short discussion of why you think this combination of information would be helpful for a particular type of learner.


Try different techniques such as real-world examples, authentic communications, and real audiences. Consider providing students with "real-world" problems to solve. For example, use real-world data in student math activities, ask students to share their understanding with a real-audience through an email activity, or write for a real-audience. A webquest provides an inquiry-based learning environment. Most webquests strive to provide this real-world context.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Go to Teacher Tap: WebQuests to learn more about webquests. Evaluate and adapt a webquest.

Provide the webquest's title, web address (URL), grade level, a short summary, strengths, weaknesses, and whether it provides a real-world or meaningful activity. Discuss ways it might be adapted for your classroom.



Try different methods such as global discussions, multi-class challenges, active questioning. Try different, technology-rich methods to address a particular standard. For example, rather than a face-to-face discussion, try an online global discussion using a threaded discussion tool such as Nicenet. Some shy students excel in this type of discussion format. Rather than using math problem sets developed by the teacher, ask students to develop problems and solutions that can be shared on the web with other classes. Finally, try active questioning techniques using tools such as PowerPoint. Rather than using PowerPoint to provide information, use it to present questions and examples.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Try the Nicenet forum. Create a Nicenet discussion forum. It's easy, just click Create a class and follow the directions. Build the forum for a specific purpose such as a current issues or book discussion. It could also be created for teachers to use.

Create your own class in nicenet for a specific purpose. Provide the Key number so other people can get in. Include at least one question to get the discussion going.

Option 2: People have called PowerPoint "pointless" or used "PowerPoint poisoning" to describe the use of PowerPoint in classrooms.

Take a stand. Do you think PowerPoint is "powerful" or "pointless"..? Create three slides that show how PowerPoint could be used in active questioning.

Option 3: You can find many ads and commercials online.

Describe how you might use AdFlip or AdCritic in your classroom. What standard would it address?


Try different resources such as literature circles, multiple articles to compare, multiple assessments. Rather than focusing on a single resource for class activities, consider multiple resources. For example, you might try literature circles. This approach involves having small groups of students read different books and hold discussions. Students can read paper books or online books. Rather than developing all the materials from scratch, use the Internet to locate good materials to use with these books. For example, you might find a 42eXplore project that will go with a number of books written at different reading levels or different topic areas. The same approach can be used with current events and articles. For example, ask students to select an article from a region or subject area in Headline Spot. This article could become the focus of the discussion.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Locate some materials online that might be used in a literature circle project.

Describe the literature circle (theme or topic and books used) along with a specific website that might be useful for a lesson, assessment, or information.

Option 2: Design a standards-based activity that would use a news resource. This might be a specific website such as Time for Kids or a starting point such as Headline Spot.

News Sources - For lower reading levels

General News Sources


Describe the activity and the website you would use.


Try different expressions such as oral descriptions, written defense, and audio narration. Consider different ways that students can express themselves. Many traditional activities ask students to simply "copy and paste". Design activities that ask student to "think." For example, rather than just making a poster. Ask them to provide an oral description. This could be done on the computer by creating the poster in Word and adding an audio element. Or, rather than writing a paper, ask students to read a paper created by someone else and critique it. Finally, ask students to record their voice narrating a presentation or map.

Choose ONE of the following activities:

Option 1: Try recording your voice. Find a microphone, plug it into the microphone jack on your computer, and record your voice in Word, Inspiration, PowerPoint, or another software package such as KidPix or Timeliner. Check the Control Panel of your system if it won't record.

Describe your experience recording your voice on the computer. Discuss an example of a time this might be useful for you or your students.

Option 2: Explore a "papermill" such as 4freeessays. Think about how you might use these essays in your classroom.

Describe an activity that would make use of the essays or other informational website found online. Provide the specific website used.


Try different approaches such as specific topics, writing about process, and focusing on meaningful topics. Try a different approach to a topic. For example, rather than focusing on all the Civil War battles, ask students to explore different battles. In addition to learning about the science of a topic, learn about the people who made the discoveries. Create real math problems from the world around you. The 42eXplore project provides lots of great resources to get you started thinking differently about your topic. You might locate a different perspective, meaningful example, or interesting activity or lesson.

Explore the 42eXplore project. Pick one topic and examine the links.

Provide the 42eXplore topic you examined. Discuss a website you found that would expand what you currently do with this topic in your classroom.


Try different experiences such as simulations, virtual visitors and trips. Consider that types of experiences students need to address a particular standard. A frog dissection simulation and an computer-simulated pottery class are two examples of providing a "virtual" experience. Consider different ways to provide students with the experiences they need such as virtual field trips and museums. Consider ways to turn a website into a learning experience. In other words, rather than simply clicking on the website pages how could you help students with the experience by setting up the "field trip" with a bulletin board, tickets, or other props? Could you provide leading questions, maps, handouts, or other materials to make them feel a part of the experience?

Explore virtual field trips and museums online. Select one to explore in-depth.

Provide the title and web address for the field trip or the museum. Discuss the standards-based learning outcome that would be accomplished by visiting the website. Describe how you would use the website to provide a "learning experience" for your students. Would you focus on the entire website or a particular part? How would you "setup" the learning experience for your students? Would you provide handouts and other guides?


Try different perspectives such as debate, interviews, and stories. Get students involved with high-level thinking by providing forums to discuss multiple perspectives. Encourage students to look at ideas from different points of view through Venn diagrams, charts, debates, and use of different technologies. For example, rather than a traditional a PowerPoint presentation, ask students to work in pairs to create a PowerPoint debate on a topic such as whaling or cloning. Or, collect information about different perspectives by conducting interviews with online professionals and experts. Learn more about different cultures through reading online stories from other folktales from around the world.

Consider projects that reach beyond your classroom. Develop an idea for an ask-an-expert project.

Share your idea for reaching beyond the classroom through email, ask-an-expert, or a travel buddy project. What are the benefits to providing multiple perspectives and outside resources in your classroom?

Use the resources below locate materials at varied reading levels.



Try different intelligences such as written directions, threaded discussions, and audio books. Many educators teach the way they were taught or the way they like to learn. It's important to consider the individual learning preferences of your students. For example, you might provide video instructions in addition to written directions. How about a threaded discussion in addition to your oral discussion? Rather than requiring students to read the book, consider using a book on tape.

Use an remote audio or video resource such as streaming radio or television in your class.

| focus | tool | material | combination | technique | method |
| resource | expression | approach | experience | perspective | intelligence |

Created by Annette Lamb, 12/02. Updated 6/03.