Project Based Learning (PBL) lends itself naturally to differentiated instruction. By design, it is student-centered, student-driven, and gives teachers space to meet students' needs in a variety of ways. ABP can enable effective differentiation in assessment, as well as daily management and instruction. We all have to try specific ideas and strategies to get our brains working in a different context. Here are some specific differentiation strategies to use during a project

Differentiating through Teams

We all know that heterogeneous grouping works, but sometimes homogeneous grouping can be an effective way to differentiate in a project. Sometimes, in a literature-based ABS project, it might be appropriate to differentiate by grouping at the reading level. That way, you can have groups that need intensive work and ensure that they are getting the instruction they need. Teamwork should be intentional, so that you know the "why" of how we structure teams. Are you differentiating academic ability? Are you differentiating collaborative skills? Are you differentiating social-emotional effects?

Reflection and Goal Setting

Reflection is an essential component of ABP. You can read more about reflection on Throughout the project, students should reflect on their work and the setting of goals for further learning. This is a great opportunity for them to set personalized learning goals and for you to target specific instruction to the goals they set.

Mini-Lessons, Centers and Resources

Perhaps you offer mini-lessons or a workspace to support your students' learning, or perhaps you show students a variety of resources to learn from, including videos, games and readings. Students move seamlessly from the work product to learning stations, resources and mini-lessons based on what they know. Students are in tune with their learning that they are able to actually take ownership of it, and the teacher provides instruction without assumption. Not all students may need the mini-lesson.

Voice and choice of products

Another essential component of CBA is the student's voice and choice, both in terms of what students produce and how they use their time. Specifically to products, it can allow students to show what they know in a variety of ways. From written, artistic or theatrical components, you can differentiate the ways in which students evaluate themselves. Their passions are actively engaged. Again, it all depends on the standards you are assessing, but don't let the standards limit your thinking. Yes, you can have a written component you are assessing writing.

Differentiate through formative assessments

Formative assessments can look at the same for all students. They can also look different. We know that learners can show what they have learned in different ways, as mentioned above, in terms of elaborated products such as summative assessment. Perhaps you are aiming for a collaboration on the project. You can differentiate a formative evaluation from this through a variety of ways. Perhaps it is an oral lecture. Perhaps it is a series of written responses.

Balancing teamwork and autonomous work

Teamwork and collaboration occur regularly in a PBL project. We want to leverage the collaboration as much as the content. However, there are times when individual instruction and practice may be necessary. The learning environment needs to be differentiated, as some students learn best on their own, and others learn best in a team. In fact, we all need time to process and think.