This post is part of a mini-series introduction to Individual Differences in Instruction and Storytelling. I lay the groundwork for deeper adventures in Differentiated Instruction, Learning Styles, Personalized Stories, and the like.

Check out the rest of the series.

Along the road of Individual Differences, we’ve talked about Differentiated Instruction, Multiple Intelligences, Learning Styles and Profiles, and Learner Assessments. Now, its time to sum up all this foundational theory into the pillars of personalized instruction. After this we can finally talk practicality in the classroom and in stories.

Excerpts from Laura Robb’s Differentiating Reading Instruction can be found on Scholastic Press’s teacher resources article “What is Differentiated Instruction.” In it, Laura discusses some key principles for differentiated instruction in reading that can be applied to personalized instruction in virtually any form. I have added a few more broad concepts into these 8 Pillars. These are concepts only, not specific implementations And, honestly, most of these are review of what we’ve already discussed.

Laura’s Key Principles

These are quoted directly:

  1. Ongoing, formative assessment: Teachers continually assess to identify students”™ strengths and areas of need so they can meet students where they are and help them move forward.
  2.  Recognition of diverse learners: The students we teach have diverse levels of expertise and experience with reading, writing, thinking, problem solving, and speaking. Ongoing assessments enable teachers to develop differentiated lessons that meet every students”™ needs.
  3. Group Work: Students collaborate in pairs and small groups whose membership changes as needed. Learning in groups enables students to engage in meaningful discussions and to observe and learn from one another.
  4. Problem Solving: The focus in classrooms that differentiate instruction is on issues and concepts rather than “the book” or the chapter. This encourages all students to explore big ideas and expand their understanding of key concepts.
  5. Choice: Teachers offer students choice in their reading and writing experiences and in the tasks and projects they complete. By negotiating with students, teachers can create motivating assignments that meet students”™ diverse needs and varied interests.

Read more.

And a couple of my own

  1. Brain Based Learning: A number of principles and techniques that prepare the brain for learning, help cement new knowledge, and aid students retention. Read more at
  2. Individual Pacing: Each student works at a specific pace, and (so long as they are actually trying to move along) this is fine. In personalized instruction, make it possible for those who are speeding through a unit to have something meaningful to move onto. By the same token, if a student needs more time on a topic, keep this in mind. Also, a specific student may move quickly through one topic and struggle on the next. This is normal.
  3. Peer Mentoring: It has been said that you retain 80% of what you teach. Let students mentor and teach each other and they will not only retain what they have taught, but develop skills in communication and problem solving.

With these pillars rounding out the theory and foundations portion of our mini-series, we can take a look at how this looks in the classroom next.

Comments below, please 🙂

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Chris Michaels

Storyteller. Researcher. Coder. Innovator. I seek to push the boundaries of storytelling and education.
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