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Student-Driven Differentiation

8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom
First Edition
By: Lisa Westman

Foreword by Carol Ann Tomlinson

Full of step-by-step guidance, this book shows you how to build collaborative student-teacher relationships, and incorporate student voice and choice in the process of planning for student-driven differentiation.

Full description

Product Details
  • Grade Level: PreK-12
  • ISBN: 9781506396576
  • Published By: Corwin
  • Series: Corwin Teaching Essentials
  • Year: 2018
  • Page Count: 216
  • Publication date: May 10, 2018

Price: $29.95

Price: $29.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.



Conduct Orchestras, Not Trains

“What if we understood that we can teach the important ideas and skills of the disciplines in a hundred different ways? And that students can learn them in a hundred different ways?”
– Carol Ann Tomlinson

How can teachers create harmony in the classroom when the educational field is lacking tangible action plans for how to differentiate learning for every student? Full of just-in-time, step-by-step guidance, Student-Driven Differentiation: 8 Steps to Harmonize Learning in the Classroom will show you how to incorporate student voice and choice in the process of planning for differentiation. This unique approach is based on building collaborative student-teacher relationships as a precursor to student growth. The result? Every student learns according to their own needs.

Organized into three parts for quick reference, this book will lay the foundation for student-driven differentiation and

  • Identify the criteria for positive teacher-student relationships
  • Examine four areas for differentiated learning – content, process, product, environment
  • Describe the process of planning and implementing student-driven differentiation
  • Motivate and support you in your student-driven differentiation journey
  • Provide unique examples and engaging vignettes throughout, including a fun project inspired by Shark Tank!
Student-Driven Differentiation illustrates relevant, real life examples of authentic learning, using student-driven differentiation as the foundation for these experiences. You’ll also receive an 8-step roadmap outlining actionable strategies that will help you foster a culture of student-driven differentiation and student-driven leadership.

Key features

In this book, educators will find:
  • Real-life examples in every chapter, from the author and from educators all over the country
  • Checklists
  • Helpful infographics to guide implementation
  • Ideas to give students autonomy to create, learn, and grow at their level
  • A companion website maintained by the author with links to helpful resources


Lisa Westman photo

Lisa Westman

Lisa Westman has over 15 years of experience as a teacher (gifted humanities, English Language Arts, social studies), and as an instructional coach specializing in differentiation. Lisa is a currently a writer, consultant, and speaker, working with school systems across the country to effectively implement student-driven differentiation, standards based learning, and instructional coaching programs. Lisa is passionate about teaching and learning; she is dedicated to effecting change which positively impacts both student and educator learning.

Lisa frequently presents for school districts and at educational conferences. She has presented at ASCD, Visible Learning, IAGC, ICE, IETC, ILASCD, The Gifted and Talented Consortium of Wisconsin CESA 7, and ICIC. Lisa is a frequent opinion contributor to EdWeek, EdWeek Teacher, Corwin Connect, and her personal blog, Put Me In, Coach. This is her first book.

Lisa is married to an educator, the parent of a third-grader and a sixth-grader, enjoys destressing at the Bar Method, loves music and the City of Chicago!

Table of Contents

Table of Contents

List of Online Tools and Resources



Why Did I Write This Book?

What Is Student-Driven Differentiation?

Student-Driven Leadership: A Crucial Component to Student-Driven Differentiation

How to Read This Book


About the Author

Part I: Foundation

Chapter 1: Relationships Come First

What Are the Criteria for Positive Teacher–Student Relationships?

How Do You Build Respectful Relationships?

Discussion Questions

Chapter 2: Differentiation Is What Happens When Teachers Focus on Student Growth

Differentiation Lessons Learned

Lesson 1: Differentiation Is Not a Goal—It Is a Result

Lesson 2: The Terms Data and Assessment Are Often Misunderstood

Lesson 3: It Is Easy to See Different—It Is Not Easy to See Differentiation

Lesson 4: Differentiation May Never Feel “Easy”

Lesson 5: There Will Always Be Challenges and a Way to Overcome Them

Discussion Questions

Chapter 3: Four Areas to Differentiate

Content: What Is to Be Learned?

Process: How Students Acquire Knowledge

Product: How Students Demonstrate Learning

Learning Environment: Where and With Whom Students Learn

Discussion Questions

Part II: Implementation

Chapter 4: Planning Student- Driven Differentiation

Step 1: Define

Step 2: Hook

Step 3: Assess and Analyze

Step 4: Group Students Strategically

Discussion Questions

Chapter 5: Include Student Voice

Step 5: Set a Goal

Step 6: Differentiate

Step 7: Monitor Progress

Step 8: Assess Again

Discussion Questions

Chapter 6: Student-Driven Differentiation Through Experiential Learning

Student-Driven Differentiation Example 1: Shark Tank

Student-Driven Differentiation Example 2: Mock Trial

Student-Driven Differentiation Example 3: The Amazing Geography Race

Student-Driven Differentiation Example 4: Mock ER

Discussion Questions

Part III: Reimagining Schools

Chapter 7: Create Learning Environments That Promote Student Ownership

Don’t Update the Factory Model; Discard It Altogether

Meet the Needs of All Students

Design Classrooms Conducive to Student-Driven Differentiation

Make Student Ownership Part of the Classroom Culture

Use Technology to Promote Learning and Creativity

Monitor Student Progress Toward Learning Intentions

Enlist Parents’ Help in Furthering Student Learning

Discussion Questions

Chapter 8: The Role of Choice in Meeting Learning Intentions

Offer Choices That Fulfill Learning Needs

Example 1: Use Choice as Part of Curriculum Compacting

Example 2: Align Choice to Learning Intentions

Example 3: Incorporate Choice in Homework Assignments

Example 4: Use Choice to Give Students Ownership of Their Own Learning

Example 5: Use Choice to Allow Students to Work at Their Own Pace

Example 6: Use Choice to Promote Student Autonomy and Student Efficacy

Lack of Choice Can Inhibit Creativity

Discussion Questions

Chapter 9: Your Journey With Student-Driven Differentiation

We Are Entrusted With Instilling the Desire to Learn

We Are Better Together: Collective Efficacy

Mastery Experience: Set Goals to Increase Efficacy

Vicarious Experiences: Observe Teachers in Action

Social Persuasion: Inspire Through Storytelling

Affective States: Support Fellow Educators Through Positive Communication

Now What? Summing It All Up

Discussion Questions







Price: $29.95
Volume Discounts applied in Shopping Cart

For Instructors

Request Review Copy

When you select 'request review copy', you will be redirected to Sage Publishing (our parent site) to process your request.

Related Resources

  • Access to companion resources is available with the purchase of this book.