Differentiated Instruction Content

The content of lessons may be differentiated based on what students already know. The most basic content of a lesson should cover the standards of learning set by the district or state. Some students in a class may be completely unfamiliar with the concepts in a lesson, some students may have partial mastery of the content - or display mistaken ideas about the content, and some students may show mastery of the content before the lesson begins. The teacher may differentiate the content by designing activities for groups of students that cover different areas of Bloom's taxonomy. For example, students who are unfamiliar with the concepts may be required to complete tasks on the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, and application. Students with partial mastery may be asked to complete tasks in the application, analysis and evaluation areas, and students who have high levels of mastery may be asked to complete tasks in evaluation and synthesis.

When teachers differentiate content, they may adapt what they want students to learn or how students access the knowledge, understanding, and skills (Anderson, 2007). In these instances, educators are not varying student objectives or lowering performance standards for students. They use different texts, novels, or short stories at a reading level appropriate for each individual student. Teachers can use flexible groups and have students assigned to like groups listening to audiobooks or accessing specific internet sources. Students could have a choice to work in pairs, groups, or individually, but all students are working towards the same standards and objectives.

Understanding by Design
Understanding by Design (UbD) is an educational strategy that may be used to inform content in a differentiated classroom. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson and Jay McTighe, UbD and differentiated instruction (DI) form an essential partnership. Combining these two educational theories may allow educators to simultaneously "craft powerful curriculum in a standards-dominated era and ensure academic success for the full spectrum of learners.