The 7 Ts of Differentiation by Sue Cowley

This short book is a really invaluable guide to differentiation in your classroom. It is arranged neatly into (unsurprisingly!) seven sections, each with a range of themed strategies to effectively differentiate for your students.

The sections are:

The First T: Top and Tail. This section provides quick and easy strategies to stretch your most able students at the ‘top’ and support your weakest students at the ‘tail’.

The Second T: Time. This section provides ideas on how to adapt timings within lessons, make time concrete and plan for longer-term activities to extend students. 

The Third T: Targets. This section looks at both targets for students and teachers, personalised learning targets and how to use target setting to motivate. 

The Fourth T: Teamwork. I love this section! Central to this chapter is how to create a team feeling within your classroom and it then provides strategies on how to use smaller teams/groups to differentiate effectively.

The Fifth T: Thinking Skills. This chapter provides practical activities to encourage higher order thinking and ways to offer students choice about what, how, when and where they wish to learn.

The Sixth T: Things. This section focuses on resources; people, objects and texts.

The Seventh T: Technology. This chapter gives a brief overview of some ways in which technology can support differentiated learning and there are some interesting ideas on how to use images rather than text in the classroom.

Some of my favourite strategies from the book include:

Adapt the amount of time you give different groups of students to complete the same activity.

It can be very hard to always differentiate fully for every single student you teach in every single lesson so try nominating one or two students a week as your ‘differentiated learners’ and plan ways to differentiate for their learning needs. Keep a record of who you have targeted so that over the course of a year every student gets a chunk of highly personalised learning.

Get more able students to identify words, phrases or sentences within their writing that they feel are effective/successful and get them to explain why.

Consider the use of CLOZE activities to support your weakest students.


Whilst those of us who have been teaching some time may find many of the strategies familiar, it certainly reminded me of the different ways you can differentiate!


About The Author

Karen Roskilly

Research School Lead & Teacher of Humanities

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