In many schools I feel like these three words are intermixed yet, they are significantly different. In this short post I want to explain the differences between these three terms to help you utilize all three strategies for student success.


Differentiation means different!

Differentiation has the word different right in it! Your students are all different. Different in their learning styles, learning path, and a different level than their peers. When differentiating teachers must give students different lessons in different learning styles to help each student learn and grow in their educational career. Sometimes students will need different lessons. Also, differentiation is NOT for struggling students it is for ALL students. For example, with math some students are experts in subtraction while others are struggling. So, it is important to continue to push the subtraction experts with opened ended questions or project base activities and help the struggling subtraction students have success in this same skill.

Also, with differentiation I like to think of it as an individual learning plan. I will assess students based on their own learning plan and not compare them to other students or standards. The goal is for each child to learn and have success. I showcase that by providing them with differentiated material and progress monitoring. When I track students’ progress and show how successful they are my students are encouraged which makes them happy and want to learn that much more.

I know differentiation can be a difficult thing to master; however, I will have several blog posts to help you be successful by differentiating in your classroom! Please subscribe to stay up-to-date with all of the upcoming posts.


Accommodations are provided by the Teacher.

Accommodation changes HOW the student learns the material. Accommodations are not just for IEP students but you can make accommodations when necessary for any student.

Here is a list of how you can make accommodations in your room.

  •  With students who struggle in reading you may provide them with a recording of the reading material.
  • When you are giving a test you can accommodate a student by providing them with a word bank. This is perfect for students who struggle with spelling or need extra help in eliminating all the possibilities to fill in the blank.
  • Extra time is a great accommodation for students. It can be given to any student during any test.

IMG_3975.pngModification means a change in the learning plan.

Modification is a change in what a student should learn and how they will learn it. Modifications fit in with accommodations and differentiated instruction. For example, students who are struggling to keep up with the lessons may need a change in their instructional time. For example, if a student is struggling with a spelling cvce words, you can modify or change their spelling list and make their spelling list shorter or change the words to easier cvce words.

You can also modify or change the instructional time for higher achieving students. You can give them a different assessment where it is more project based than other students. Or you can give higher achieving students a different more complex assessment over the same skills as the rest of the class. Going back to the cvce spelling words, you can modify higher spellers by giving them harder cvce words for their spelling test. Same skill but you changed the assessment.


In Summary

By differentiating, accommodating, and modifying in your classroom every student will learn and grow! Differentiation means different, whereas accommodating means providing students with different tools to help them all succeed, and lastly modifying means changing the assessment or instructional time to fit the needs of your learners. Our goal is for each student to learn and grow on their own learning path. By incorporating these three things you can set up a classroom for success!

7 Comments on Differentiation, Accommodation, and Modification

  1. I love your explanations! This is a must read blog post for new and veteran teachers alike. I always need reminders and ideas of how to implement these topics in my classroom. Thank you!

  2. These words are often grouped and some children don’t like hearing that they need differentiation or accommodations. Clearly defining what each one is, is the first step in removing stigmas and helping every child in the class! Thank you!

  3. Wow! Great, useful information for differentiated instruction. I am very passionate about reaching students at their academic level and building them up! Thank you for sharing so much value!

  4. Thanks for sharing about this important topic!! I agree that these three things need to be a part of our planning and implementation in the classroom! They are so important!

  5. Oh my goodness! I needed to read this today – this has been a big topic of discussion, recently. I cannot wait to share this with my coworkers! Thank you!!

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