Differentiation Strategies to Try in Your Science Classes


You’ve heard the word a million times. Maybe you majored in education and heard it all throughout your college years, or maybe you decided to start your career in education later on. Whatever path you chose, you’ve heard the term before. You’re encouraged to differentiate your teaching by your administration but you may need a little help in figuring out exactly what types of differentiation strategies to use in science. I got you. These are a few of my favorites to use.


    Stations are an excellent way to provide differentiation in your science class because you can compile a bunch of different methods into one activity. The benefits of using stations in middle science include providing a hands-on approach, encouraging active learning, and time efficiency. Create a designated number of stations with “mini” activities for students to perform at each and provide a timer for students so that they can rotate to each station throughout the class period. Some of the activities I like to include in my stations include:

    • Short quiz
    • Task cards
    • Mini Labs
    • Demonstration
    • Short video with questions
    • Filling out a graphic organizer
    • Answering a research question
    • Written response questions
    • PhET simulations
    • Sorting activities
    • Using comic-style notes

    As you can see, there are plenty of differentiation strategies that you can include in stations alone. Cater them to your students and their needs.

    differentiation strategies science


    Demonstrations are my go-to when I want to do a lab with my students, but I am short on time or short on materials. You can perform the demonstration for your students and have them fill out a lab report based on it. You can also do this in a CER (claim, evidence, reasoning) format where students have to make a claim about what they are seeing and then provide reasoning for the phenomena based on what they have previously learned in class. Similarly, you could also use a POE (predict, observe, explain) template. For a POE, you would have students predict what is going to occur during your demonstration, write down their observations as you perform the demonstration, and then explain what they saw based on what they have learned.


    You don’t always need to be the star of the show in your classroom. Sometimes videos can do a much better job of showing or explaining a concept than we can with what we have available in the classroom. Just make sure that you watch it first before showing your students and make sure the content in the video is accurate.

    Choice Boards

    When implementing choice boards in your classroom, you are giving students autonomy in their learning and providing them with a way to demonstrate what they have learned through choice. I usually provide students with a simple rubric, a list of choices, and vocabulary I require them to include in their desired format. Students will do some amazing things when given the choice to flex their skills. Using choice allows your students to show off their talents a little bit. Your artists can make posters. Singers or aspiring rappers may want to write a song. Have a couple of students that love to talk? Let them record their own version of a podcast. Read more about why you should try choice boards in your classroom here.

    Use of online games

    Never underestimate the engagement power of a good Kahoot, Quizlet, Quizizz or Nearpod game. The best part of these online platforms is that you can find plenty of quizzes already created so you don’t have to look for them on your own!


    Middle school students love a good debate. They’ll debate over favorite snacks, popular new songs, or if a new TikTok video was funny. Give them a reason to debate in your science class. Allow students to take on different perspectives on a topic and debate with another group. Not only do students have to be confident in their ability to express facts about a topic but it encourages critical thinking, improves students’ communication skills, and allows them to explore different viewpoints. It doesn’t need to be hard. Here are some examples you could try.

    Who is most important within the trophic pyramid? Producers or consumers?

    Is shaving cream a solid, liquid or a gas?

    What body system is the most important?

    Should Pluto be considered a planet?

    Are Zoos and aquariums beneficial for animals?

    Task Cards

    They may seem simple enough but task cards can be used in a variety of ways. You can include them in stations, and use them in a gallery walk activity, as warm-ups/exit tickets or classroom review games. Find task cards on various middle school science topics here.

    Gallery Walks

    Gallery walks are one of my favorite ways to mix up an activity, a set of notes, or task cards. During a gallery walk, students move around the classroom to observe images related to a topic, answer task card questions, take notes, or review vocabulary. 

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