A differentiated lesson plan is a description of instructional activities tailored to the needs of diverse students in the class, including those who are gifted, have preferred learning styles, speak English as a second language or require developmental instruction in the subject, and the lesson plan typically covers the activities of the class for a single day. Rather than focusing on one way of learning that may appeal to only some students, using a differentiated plan ensures that students of all abilities can master the concepts taught in the class.
Creating a differentiated plan requires the teacher to be familiar with students' abilities, learning styles, needs and interests, and this information can be obtained through inventories, standardized test information and conversation with students. With this information obtained, the teacher can look for multiple ways to teach a concept through activities and assess learning through tests. This may also require that the teacher create alternative activities for specific groups of students, such as those who need more practice or who need more of a challenge.
The teacher may also give students some control over their learning activities. For example, some students may choose to do group projects rather than individual ones. Some students may choose to do activities that require hands-on learning, while others may prefer to hear lectures or read about the topic.