Differentiation in the Culture-Sensitive Classroom

Differentiation means tailoring instruction to meet

individual needs.

One part of meeting individual needs is to consider students’ cultures and the effects that it has on his or her learning. “Educational research shows that children learn best when their culture and language are reflected in the curriculum.”

When classrooms are organized into communities that are designed to encourage academic and cultural excellence, students learn to facilitate their own learning as well as that of their fellow students.

It is important to teach students to be respectful and work together.

Part of having a Culture - Sensitive Classroom is teaching respct and teamwork.


There are 4 main methods to differentiate instruction:

  1. Content
  2. Process
  3. Product
  4. Learning Environment

Click on the links above to explore strategies to differentiate in each of the four methods.



Key Features of Culturally-Responsive Teaching

  1. Communicate High Expectations- make sure that you let all of the students know that you expect them to participate and succeed.
  2. Actively Engage the Students in Learning- encourage the students to be involved with their learning. They need to ask questions, look for answers, and be unafraid to try new things, even if htey don't get it quite right the first time.
  3. Facilitate Learning- use scaffolding. Build on what students already know so that they can gain new knowledge and be able to make connections in their learning.
  4. Understand that the students' parents bring capabiliities and assets- spend time getting to know the students and their families. Find out what they know, what they may need help with, and ways that you can help them and learn from them.
  5. Make sure the curriculum is grounded in the students' daily lives. Use knowledge they already have to establish background knowledge and build new connections. Make sure the information is relevant to the students.
  6. Visit with and learn the students' families and the community that they are influenced by. Get to know the environment that the students are exposed to and use the parents and family as resources.
  7. Learn to appreciate diversity.

Find more details in the article Culturally Responsive Teaching Matters! 



Teacher Resources

These are links to websites and articles with more information, ideas, and suggestions for implementing these differentiation strategies in the classrrom. They are very informative and give details about creating a culture-sensitive classroom that acommodates all types of learners. 

Use Reading Rockets to help you differentiate reading instruction using the 4 methods of differentiation.

This article describes in detail the 4 methods of differentiation and gives examples of how to use them in a culturally responsive classroom. There are also many lesson plans and resources listed in the article.

The article "Culturally Responsive Teaching Matters" gives a wonderful explanation about the importance of culturally responsive teaching and the roles that teachers play in facilitating a culturally responsive classroom.

Use the above website to help with strategies for teaching English Language Learners!

This is a checklist to help you make sure you are creating a culturally-sensitive classroom. This could be very helpful.

This article helps provide strategies for teaching culturally diverse students. It discusses teacher strategies and instructional strategies.

The website Edutopia has links to many resources to help teachers with a diverse class. There are articles, strategies, lesson plans, and activities!

Scholastic provides professional articles, lesson plans, and activities to teach multiculturalism and diversity.


Below is a video that provides strategies for differentiation. 

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