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Differentiated Instruction: Strategies

DI: Speed Drawing and Choice Boards (Menus)

Objective: Provide options for teachers to use differentiated teaching strategies for the classroom. 

We will examine choice boards or "menus" for project-based learning for the differentiated classroom.

I will consider "menus" as an option for differentiating instruction in my classroom.

Speed Drawing

Speeding Drawing is a teaching strategy that helps students demonstrate their competence (or ignorance) of concepts either low tech (dry erase boards) or high-tech (Nearpod). This method enables educators to clarify, reinforce, challenge or change the pictures in student's heads that underpin their understandings concepts about content areas.

Drawing makes for greater, memorable learning experiences

Drawing taps different cognitive skills than text learning, thus reaching your visual and kinesthetic learners

Findings from neuroscience indicate that the more senses used in learning, the greater likelihood of recall because the student can retrieve the lesson from multiple cues

“Speed Drawing” strategy requires students to draw quickly making it more like a game.

Low tech = dry erase boards

High tech = draw feature on Nearpod

Framework categories:
Definition- Asks students to draw the meaning of a word or concept in the context of content areas.

Exploration- Invites the student to examine a subject in greater detail. The student is encouraged to extend and sometimes combine concepts.

Affective- Calls upon the student to share their feelings and emotions and to consider different points of view.

Hypothetical- Encourages students to imagine problems and propose solutions. These questions typically start off with “if” and “when”.

Brier, D. J., & Lebbin, V. K. (2015). Learning information literacy through drawing. Reference Services Review, 43(1), 45-67. doi:10.1108/RSR-08-2014-0030 retrieval at:

Choice Boards/Menus

Students are able to choose products that best fits their learning styles, interests, and educational needs. Using menus in the classroom enables the student to become firsthand inquirers and creators of information by engaging the learner with choice rather than being consumer of information.

Allowing students to have choices in products they create fosters independence and intrinsic learning

Some secondary students have a desire to be taught information, others prefer to explore and learn things that are new to them, still others do not want to learn anything unless it is of interest to them.

By incorporating different choice activities, students can stretch beyond what they know

3, 6, 9, 12 = students can work up to making complex choices with longer lists of options as their choice skill-level increases

Variety of styles: Meal, Poetry Shape, Tic-Tac-Toe, List, 20-50-80, Game Show, Baseball, Design Your Own

Teaching “menus” as a choice is a skill that has to be modeled/taught.

Offer a variety of products to meet learning styles.

Assignments should be at all levels of thinking.

Product guidelines should be clear since menus are typically done as independent work.

Provide rubrics and self-assessments.

Due dates considered as throughout the unit or end of study.

$5 rule for materials.

Renzulli, J. S. S. (2000). The multiple menu model for developing differentiated curriculum. The National Research Center on the Gifted and Talented. Retrieved from

Westphal, L. E. (2013). Differentiating instruction with menus: Algebra I/II. Waco, Tex.: Prufrock Press.

Westphal, L. E. (2013). Differentiating instruction with menus: Biology. Waco, Tex.: Prufrock Press.

Westphal, L. E. (2014). Literature for every learner: Differentiating instruction with menus for poetry, short stories, and novels : for grades 9-12. Waco, TX: Prufrock Press.

Using Pictures Books

The text in some picture books may be simplistic and not appropriate for an adolescent audience, but depending on the purpose for reading the book, most picture books can and should be shared in secondary classrooms. When used in secondary grades, their primary function has been as remediation for struggling readers or English language learners. However, empirical evidence and professional literature review strongly suggest that the use of picture books increases engagement and learning among high school students at all instructional levels.

Activates prior knowledge

Quick reads for 45 minute classes

Improves reading comprehension

Supports content area concepts

Uses visual literacy

Opens dialogue for interactive read-aloud with facilitative talk

Reinforces literary elements

Bridge to writing prompts