ALL-ED defines differentiated instruction in terms of teacher decision-making.
Differentiated Instruction is a continuous teacher decision-making process where teachers search for and respond to academic diversity that will either strengthen or impede effective learning within a community.
Teacher decision-making for differentiated instruction begins when teachers observe students learning and look at student work.
For example, look at these images of the Five Little Pumpkins Sitting on A Fence. What are some of the skills students are demonstrating here? As we look at more student work we may find that some students have mastered certain skills such as organization and have background knowledge of farms and are writing letters. Other students may be struggling with visual motor skills or excelling in trying novel ideas. The perception of these differences among students launches a teacher’s response of differentiated instruction to ensure that all learner’s needs are being met.