Differentiation involves teachers creating lessons that are accessible and challenging for all students. It is one of the core functions of teaching and one of the hardest. To be successful, a teacher needs to know where the students are and plan, deliver and assess the content in various ways, so all students make progress in their learning. Teachers can adjust content, activities, expected outcomes and assessment criteria to achieve this aim. The physical classroom environment also has a role to play.
The challenge for many teachers is how to differentiate successfully without planning a separate lesson for each student. Although students are traditionally grouped by perceived ability in mathematics classes, research has shown that flexible grouping, depending on topic and task, is more effective than fixed-ability grouping.