DIFFERENTIATION: Its Not As Hard As You Think


[semester equivalent = 4.00 credits]



Brenda McKinney



Today’s students differ greatly from each other and their learning needs vary more dramatically than ever! These differences are wide ranging and are being identified earlier. Such classroom disparities require all educators to think differently about teaching and learning; educators have been differentiating for ages. This class is intended to move you from where you are now (beginner. proficient. advanced) in the procedures of differentiation, to the next level essential for success.
You will learn how to implement differentiation properly to emphasize shared responsibility between teacher and student, because the brain that does the work is the brain that learns! Differentiation and the Brain (the text) is a great introduction into how research supports the use of differentiated learning opportunities for all classrooms.  The text is not bogged down with statistical data but rather is explained in user-friendly terms.  This will be a go-to resource for years to come!  Once you start, you will be hooked forever!  This course is appropriate for educators at all levels K-12.  Learn to teach differently and smarter, not harder ! Join me on an adventure to learn how to manage and establish a differentiated classroom.


LEARNING OUTCOMES: Upon completion of this course, participants will have:

  1. Understood the non-negotiables of effective differentiation instruction.
  2. Developed a more productive view of assessment and grading.
  3. Supported student readiness, gender differences, cultural differences, student interests and passions.
  4. Learned management strategies for a Differentiated Classroom.
  5. Identified the 7 Principles of Leading Students.
  6. Learned guidelines for effective group work in the Differentiated Classroom.

Completion of all specified assignments is required for issuance of hours or credit.  The Heritage Institute does not award partial credit. 


Completing the basic assignments (Section A. Information Acquisition) for this course automatically earns participant’s their choice of CEUs (Continuing Education Units), or Washington State Clock Hours or Oregon PDUs. The Heritage Institute offers CEUs and is an approved provider of Washington State Clock Hours and Oregon PDUs.



Continuing Education Quarter credits are awarded by Antioch University Seattle (AUS). AUS requires 75% or better for credit at the 400 level and 85% or better to issue credit at the 500 level. These criteria refer both to the amount and quality of work submitted.

  1. Completion of Information Acquisition assignments 30%
  2. Completion of Learning Application assignments 40%
  3. Completion of Integration Paper assignment 30%


CREDIT/NO CREDIT (No Letter Grades or Numeric Equivalents on Transcripts)
Antioch University Seattle (AUS) Continuing Education Quarter credit is offered on a Credit/No Credit basis; neither letter grades nor numeric equivalents are on a transcript. 400 level credit is equal to a "C" or better, 500 level credit is equal to a "B" or better. This information is on the back of the transcript.

AUS Continuing Education quarter credits may or may not be accepted into degree programs. Prior to registering determine with your district personnel, department head or state education office the acceptability of these credits for your purpose.



Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom

  • Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom
    ISBN# 1935249592
    by David A. Sousa, Carol Ann Tomlinson
    Solution Tree

    Buy from Amazon


Text, Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom, costs approximately $20 from


Brenda McKinney, CEO of Vancouver, WA based BrainVolution, is a developer and dynamic facilitator of workshops that teach practical thinking and learning tools for raising student achievement with the brain in mind. She has trained educators throughout the Pacific Northwest and is a popular presenter because of her ability to motivate, make things fun, and teach practical techniques for the classroom that can be used immediately. Brenda continues to read hundreds of books and articles on the subject of neuroscience and searches for the answer to success for every student. Her work with at-risk students and those with reading problems have made her a popular speaker at the state, regional and national level.

Brenda is able to synthesize the new research and continues to address the role of how to use the latest findings to create high achievement classroom. She brings 30+ years of experience at the elementary, middle school, high school and university level as a mentor teacher, consultant, motivational speaker, university instructor, and reading specialist. Brenda has her Master’s in Education from Washington State University and is nationally certified in Brain Based Learning through the renowned  Jensen Corporation, led by Eric Jensen, a noted international spokesperson for neuroscience and education.


Brenda will inspire and motivate you with her energy, enthusiasm and knowledge. Her wisdom, techniques, and brain based approach to education will inspire you and challenge you to meet the demands of this ever changing world.



DIFFERENTIATION: Its Not As Hard As You Think

Sousa, David & Carol Ann Tomlinson. Differentiation and the Brain: How Neuroscience Supports the Learner-Friendly Classroom. Solution Tree Press. 2011.
ISBN: 978-1-935249-59-7 and can be purchased at (About $20.00) 186 pages + free downloads of templates and worksheets. Resource for all levels.
Excellent text for both new and expert classroom teachers. Combines the perspectives of differentiation and neuroscience to build a convincing argument for change. If you are wondering why we need one more book on differentiation, this is the answer. It makes the fields of differentiation and neuroscience accessible and offers practical tips that will bring you back to the book again and again. This text lined up closely with my own work in the classroom and I believe this text will provoke the creativity you need and restore the pedagogical fires that you felt when you started teaching. Provides an IMPORTANT new perspective.
Cash, Richard M.  Advancing Differentiation: Thinking and Learning for the 21st Century. Free Spirit Publishing. 2011. ISBN:  978-1-57542-357-9. Advanced Teacher Resource. Go beyond the basics and gain the tools to build a more rigorous differentiated curriculum. Infuse your teaching with thinking skills essential to success after your students get out of school. This text is more advanced but it was definitely a favorite. A resource to help you thrive!! Contains a CD.
Doubet, Kristina & Jessica Hockett. Differentiation in Middle and High School: Strategies to Engage All Learners. ASCD. 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4166-2018-1.
In this one-stop resource for middle and high school teachers, Kristina J. Doubet and Jessica A. Hockett explore how to use differentiated instruction to help students be more successful learners--regardless of background, native language, learning style, motivation, or school savvy. Each chapter provides a plethora of practical tools, templates, and strategies for a variety of subject areas developed by and for real teachers. Differentiation in Middle and High School will show you classroom-tested ways to better engage students and help them succeed every day.
Jensen, Eric & LeAnn Nickelsen.  Deeper Learning: 7 Powerful Strategies for In-Depth and Longer Lasting Learning. 2008. Corwin Press. 2008.
ISBN:  978-1-4129-5203-3. Resource for grades 4-12. Very comprehensive. This text has it all and is directed to users grades 4-12. Differentiation is explained and there are templates galore to help you add new ideas to your daily strategies. There are 50 strategies in this great book based on all learning levels. The only downside is the length. LeAnn should have an updated edition out soon.  For the “So What?” or the “Wow,” add this to your collection for practical strategies.
Kaufeldt, Martha. Teachers Change Your Bait! Brain Compatible Differentiated Instruction. Crown House Publishing. 2006. ISBN: 1904424619. Elementary Resource.
Packed with practical ideas and examples for differentiation especially for elementary classrooms. Not only does it provide a wealth of strategies but explains the neuroscience behind each principle. If you want to get organized this is a great place to start. Great for teachers of second language learners, reluctant learners, and high potential students. I love Martha’s work because it direct and to the point and easy to follow.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in Mixed Ability Classrooms. ASCD. 2001.  ISBN: 0-87120-512-2. Resource for all levels.
Field tested ideas that every teacher can use. Tomlinson is the expert. I especially like this one because it includes curriculum compacting, sidebar investigations, graphic organizers, contracts, portfolios. It is a great second book for the work in this class. Very practical.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann & Michael Murphy. Leading for Differentiation: Growing Teachers who Grow Kids. ASCD. 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4166-2080-8.
Leading the change to a differentiated school means creating an environment in which each individual feels valued, challenged, supported, and part of a team working together for success. In this book, school leaders will learn how to set the course for positive change and create the structural supports that will help teachers grow as differentiators so that their students will thrive as learners.
Vatterott, Cathy. Rethinking Grading: Meaningful Assessment for Standards-Based Learning. ASCD. 2015. ISBN: 978-1-4166-2049-5.
Rethinking Grading will show all educators how standards-based grading can authentically reflect student progress and learning--and significantly improve both teaching and learning.