Differentiated learning


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Welcome to Differentiated learning. This course is designed for individual teachers or as a forum for larger school groups if appropriate.

It will explore the questions:

  • What is differentiation and why is it important?

  • What does differentiation look like in practice?

  • How do we differentiate learning?

  • How does the use of data inform differentiation?

  • What are the key features of differentiated teaching and learning?

Participants will demonstrate their understanding of key principles and concepts underpinning differentiated learning by creating a new, or modifying an existing, unit of learning.

Classroom teachers will identify individual learning characteristics that need to be considered when differentiating for all students.

Work your way across the tab headings above. It is advisable to complete all activities before attempting the course deliverable.

Icon for course deliverable

The course deliverable is available in the Your task tab and in the Activity booklet. You will submit either a new unit of learning on a topic you are planning to teach, or modify an existing unit, to demonstrate your understanding of differentiation.

This course:

It is recommended that teachers complete the online courses Your school and the new syllabuses and A process for programming a unit of learning available from the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum: Implementation support website to enhance their understanding of the principles of developing a quality teaching unit.

The course material can be applied to each unit of learning developed as part of a teaching and learning sequence.

At the completion of this course, participants will have:

  • reflected on current practice

  • developed skills and understanding of the concepts and practice of differentiation in the classroom

  • recognised the features of a quality differentiated unit of learning from given samples

  • created a new, or modified an existing, unit of learning showing explicit differentiation.

This course will provide participants with the opportunity to plan and program for differentiation in their classroom.

Summary of course requirements


Indicative time




5 minutes

Orientates teachers to the course and the website.


40 minutes

This section guides teachers through the process of examining differentiation in their teaching practice.

  • What is differentiation?

  • Why differentiate?

Activity 1: Differentiation in my teaching practice

Know your students

60 minutes

In this section teachers look at the needs of their students and how they learn. They are directed to the different sources of data available and ways this data can be used to gather information about the learning needs of their students.

Activity 2: The learner – Know my students and how they learn

Activity 3A: Identifying student data to inform practice

Activity 3B: Interrogating sample student data

Differentiation in practice

60 minutes

This section looks at ways teachers can differentiate by adjusting content, process, product and learning environment. This is with reference to the Quality Teaching model.

Activity 4: Linking Quality Teaching model and differentiation elements

Activity 5: Unit of learning modification plan

Your task

190 minutes

In this section teachers either create a new unit of learning or modify an existing unit of their own, showing explicitly how differentiation is embedded into their lesson plans.

Deliverable: The deliverable for this course is a new or modified unit of learning explicitly showing differentiation.

Wrap up

5 minutes

This guides teachers through the process of having the course recognised as Quality Teaching Council Registered professional development towards maintaining their accreditation.

  • complete the course checklist

  • submit the deliverable.

You will work your way across the tab headings above. Complete all activities before attempting the course deliverable.

  • Create a new folder for any documents associated with this course in a place convenient to you.

  • Review advice and resources on the NSW syllabuses for the Australian Curriculum page which is accessible through the DEC Portal. For subjects that may not yet have a NSW Syllabus for the Australian Curriculum, refer to the Syllabuses page on the Board of Studies, Teaching and Educational Standards (BOSTES) website.

  • Download the Activity booklet from the Course materials section. Save this file and add to it as you work through the course.

Throughout this course you will find the following icons:

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Read a document

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A deliverable

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Watch a video

icon for internet

Internet link/reference

icon for online activity

Online activity/download

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Collaborate with colleagues

Support materials

This DEC course (code RG00138) is registered professional development under the terms of the BOSTES Professional Learning Policy 2013.

Completing Differentiated learning will contribute six hours of QTC Registered PD addressing the standard descriptors in the table below from the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers towards maintaining Proficient Teacher Accreditation in NSW.

This table details how the course Differentiated learning addresses the Australian Professional Standards for Teachers.

Standards addressed by course

Description of course content and how it addresses the Standard

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn

Descriptor 1.1.2 Use teaching strategies based on knowledge of students' physical, social and intellectual development and characteristics to improve student learning.

Participants will:

  • use data on student characteristics from various sources, to inform teaching strategies that improve student learning.

  • use differentiation strategies to employ in their teaching and learning programs to best cater for all students.

Standard 1: Know students and how they learn

Descriptor 1.5.2 Develop teaching activities that incorporate differentiated strategies to meet the specific learning needs of students across the full range of abilities.

Participants will:

  • investigate teaching strategies that meet specific learning needs of their students

  • articulate how data informs the differentiated modifications made.

Standard 3: Plan for and implement effective teaching and learning

Descriptor 3.1.2 Set explicit, challenging and achievable learning goals for all students.

Participants will:

  • plan for modifications to their unit of learning to incorporate differentiated strategies that meet the needs of students.

In order for new scheme teachers accredited at Proficient to have these hours added to their professional learning log at BOSTES, the following steps must be taken:

  1. Before commencing the course, advise your supervisor of your intention to do so and discuss the course requirements.

Your supervisor/course deliverer will then need to:

  1. schedule an event against this course (course code RG00138) on My PL@Edu. For information on scheduling an event see DELIVERERS: Scheduling a professional learning event via My PL@Edu.
    Include the developer of the course as the Manage Event Support Person.

  2. Enrol in the scheduled event in My PL@Edu using your DEC portal username and password. For more details see PARTICIPANTS: Searching for and enrolling in professional learning events via My PL@Edu.

Your supervisor/course deliverer will need to confirm your enrolment on the event’s Enrolment tab on My PL@Edu.


  1. Complete all course activities and deliverables.

  2. Provide the completed deliverable as evidence to your supervisor for approval.

  3. Complete the online evaluation in My PL@Edu.

  4. Have a follow up discussion with your supervisor when you have completed the course and deliverable.
    Your supervisor/course deliverer will then be able to verify that you have met all requirements for the course and will ensure completion is recorded on the event’s Participation tab on My PL@Edu.

  5. Allow at least 7-10 working days for your details to be passed on to BOSTES.

  6. Within three months of completing the course, log in to your account on the BOSTES Teacher Accreditation website to complete the online evaluation so that the participation hours are recorded.

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Presenter notes

The Presenter notes (.docx 283kB) contain advice about how to manage the delivery of this course, including a detailed description of what each tab is about, delivery strategies and advice for completing the activities.

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Activity booklet

Download and save the Activity booklet (.docx 927kB) and add to it as you work through the course.

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Course completion checklist

The Course completion checklist (.docx 60kB) is also available from the Wrap up tab. It will help ensure all course activities are completed, requiring supervisors to check and sign off on work completed in order for participants to gain recognition for the course.