How to Differentiate Instruction with TpT Digital Activities

Differentiate instruction with TpT Digital Activities! Now you can customize your favorite Teachers pay Teachers resources for online learning. First, select different pages for different students. Then increase or decrease expectations. Add support as needed. Finally, share the assignments with your students.

Differentiate instruction with TpT Digital Activities. Select different pages for different students. Vary expectations. You can reach each you teach!


As I discussed in my last post, creating a TpT Digital Activity adds an interactive layer to a PDF. Sellers and teachers can add answer boxes. They can also type extra instructions, highlight, write, and draw – on the page and in the margins. Students can type in answer boxes, add text boxes and type, highlight, write, and draw. It’s the perfect way to convert a printable PDF to an interactive online activity.

But let’s not stop there. These options also allow teachers to differentiate instruction.

Step 1: Select Resources with Differentiation Built In

When differentiation is built into a resource, it makes your life easier. As you shop for new resources, add the term differentiated to your search. Then limit the results further with your grade level and/or standard.

Remember, you ca only make TpT Digital Activities with eligible PDFs. Look for the gray label on the right-hand side of the product page.

Today we’ll explore ways to support struggling learners and challenge high flyers. To help you visualize how this works, I’ll use a fourth grade literature unit as an example.

Step 2: Differentiate Instruction by Sharing Different Pages

Leveled Texts

With TpT Digital Activities, teachers can curate assignments for different groups of kids. Since this resource includes differentiated reading passages, for example, each group will receive an appropriate text. Level A will be assigned to strong readers, B to average readers, and C to struggling readers.

To differentiate instruction with TpT Digital Activities, share different passages with different students.

Are you feeling “pinspired”? Feel free to pin images from this post.

To find reading material like this for your lesson, search differentiated reading passages or leveled texts. Limit the search with your grade level. Don’t worry about the slant of the resource. If a resource has passages that meet your needs, you can change the questions. (See “Set New Expectations” below.)

Varied Processes

In addition to differentiating content, you can change up student processes. One way to do this is selecting different support material. In this example, the teacher wants advanced readers to work on transitions, average readers to focus on citing, and struggling readers to concentrate on steps in writing a response. For each group, she selects different pages from the unit.

With TpT Digital Activities, you can share different pages of the resource with different students. This way, you can alter expectations.

Step 3: Differentiate Instruction by Changing Directions

As explained in “Getting Started with TpT Digital Activities,” teachers can customize PDFs with answer boxes and text boxes. You can use these tools to increase, decrease, or set new expectations. (Some teacher-authors have already added answer boxes for your convenience. You can add to and/or change what they have done.)

Increasing Expectations

Here, the teacher has added text boxes in the directions to raise the requirements. Top readers must cite with paragraph numbers; average must refer to the text.

To differentiate instruction with TpT Digital Activities, change expectations for different groups of students. Just annotate with the text tool.

Decreasing Expectations

For weaker readers, she has covered some expectations with answer boxes and added her own directions by placing a text box on top of an answer box.

Decrease expectations with TpT Digital Activities by placing answer boxes over some instructions.

Setting Your Own Expectations

Sometimes teachers want to add their own activities or questions. You can do this with TpT Digital Activities! Just cover an entire page with an answer box. Then type your own directions in a text box and drag it onto the answer box.

This strategy also works well for writing projects. If you think some students will need more room to write, cover an unused page in the file with an answer box and include it in the assignment.

You can create your own customized pages with TpT Digital Activities. If you want to add your own questions or prompts, just cover an entire page with an answer box. Then type your content in a text box and lay it over the answer box.

Step 4: Adapt Instruction for Struggling Learners

To experience success, some students need even more adaptations. You can use various tools to customize TpT Digital Activities for them. Here, for example, the teacher covered all but the relevant paragraph.

Limit content with TpT Digital Activities. When you put an answer box over irrelevant text, weaker readers can focus on necessary information.

Other ideas for adaptation include:

  • writing the first sentence or working the first problem to get kids started
  • writing reminders in the margins to remind learners
  • highlighting important information

You can mark up the page in a variety of ways and save different versions for different students. This way, instruction is not only differentiated, it’s customized.

Save TpT Digital Activities to Use Over and Over

As you create TpT Digital Activities, they automatically save on your My Activities page. You can use them now – and later!

To keep them organized, develop meaningful abbreviations. In this case, the titles begin with L for literature. AQ stands for answering questions, which is a fourth grade standard. Then comes the title and level.

Save Differentiated TpT Digital Activities to use over and over again. Give each a meaningful name. It will save to your My Activities folder.

In a Nutshell

Creating multiple TpT Digital Activities for an assignment is quick and easy. First, consider each group’s needs and your expectations. Second, select specific pages (including support material) for each group. Third, customize with answer boxes, text boxes, and notes. In just a few short minutes, you can post the assignments, grab the codes, and share them with the appropriate students.

Enjoy teaching (and differentiating) with TpT Digital Activities!

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