Debbie Leialoha, PhDA word from our Differentiated Instruction (DI) Lead Instructor, Debbi Leialoha, PhD, Program Chair MEd Differentiated Instruction Emphasis

Creating and facilitating delivery of our online education programs has been my major focus during my sojourn at Graceland University. I arrived at Graceland after being a K-12 educator in both special and general education settings for 24 years. As Program Chair of the Differentiated Instruction (DI) emphasis, it is exciting to meet a cross section of our nation’s teachers and have the opportunity to interface with their practice. I can well remember the struggles I experienced having a wide range of students with varied abilities and interests. It was challenging to meet the learning needs of all my students.

Differentiated instruction is a teaching model in which teachers proactively modify curriculum, instruction and assessment to address the needs of individual students and/or small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunities for each student in the classroom. Adjusting content, process and products in light of a student’s readiness, interests and learning profile allows teaching to start where the kids are! Graceland’s MEd in Differentiated Instruction allows you to hear firsthand (through our DVD materials) the expertise and guidance of Dr. Carol Ann Tomlinson, the ultimate guru on this topic.

Dr. Tomlinson poses three questions when thinking about how to differentiate instruction: What is the teacher differentiating? How is the teacher differentiating? Why is the teacher differentiating?

Whether you have struggling or advanced learners in your classroom, learning is maximized when knowledge is organized, students are involved in the learning process, assessments are robust and varied, and students feel their basic needs are being met.

Will the students who fill your classroom seats be accepted from his or her point of entry into the curriculum? Will you understand and respond to the idea that our students need us in different ways? The promotion of a successful classroom is an admirable goal that will take the endeavors of all stakeholders. One of the most satisfying elements of facilitating courses in this program is the opportunity to dialogue with teachers, such as you, about teaching and learning.

What can this degree do for you? Our graduate faculty keep a strong connection with our alumni. We frequently hear from our educators that not only has their knowledge enriched their own practice, but also of their school colleagues. Would you like to learn more? I would look forward to corresponding with you. I can be reached at

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