Differentiate Assignments with Google Classroom

differentiate assignments in google classroom

Differentiate Assignments with Google Classroom

A new feature makes it easier to assign different things to different students. This allows you to provide challenges for students who are ready to move forward or give students who are into Pokemon a math assignment that uses their game data.

Default is All Students

Notice when creating an assignment the default is “All students.”
this assignment is for all students

Hunt for the Tiny Triangle

As a general practice you want to always be on the hunt for the tiny triangle. Tiny triangles indicate additional options are available. These are all over Google Apps. Notice next to the words “All students” is a tiny triangle to switch to selecting certain students. Clicking on the triangle brings up a list of your roster with “All students” selected. Uncheck the checkbox to unselect all students.
uncheck all students

Group Work

Assign a collaborative document to a select group of students. Click on the tiny triangle next to “All students” and select the students who will be working together. To allow this group of students access to the same document make sure to change the attachments to “Students can edit file.”
students can edit file

Personal Favor

As a side note, I would really really like “Students can edit file” to be reworded to “Students can collaborate on file.” If you would click on the question mark in the left hand corner of Google Classroom and send feedback for this change I would be very grateful.

Lets Make a Deal

Sometimes we need to play “Let’s make a deal” with a student. This one student is going to do a project or something to make up for some missed work. Or perhaps a students is going on vacation and we want a way for them to incorporate their trip into their assignments. You can create an assignment in Google Classroom and assign it to only one student. The other students are not able to see this in their Stream.
one student

Differentiation Not Tracking

A word of caution: think carefully about if this is being used to differentiate for student interest and needs or to track students. Jo Boaler in her book Mathematical Mindsets advises for heterogenous groups over homogenous groups. It is win win for struggling and advanced students. Instead of selecting easier or more challenging tasks for students I suggest offering choices and letting the students self select. No one wants to play a video game that is too hard or a game that is too easy. My experience is that for the most part students choose appropriately. The most important thing we do as educators is to build relationships with students. It is through this relationship of respect that you have built that you can encourage students to try something outside of their comfort level.

I play a math baseball game where the student gets to choose an easy, medium or challenging math problem. At first they ALWAYS choose the easy problem. It doesn’t last long, students are quickly attempting the harder and hardest problems. Success builds success, encouraging students and offering a choice of challenges can be really motivating and gives every student an opportunity to work at high levels.


Instead of using the differentiation tool in Google Classroom to assign different levels of activities, consider posting the learning objective instead. Then offer some different choices for how the students could address the learning objective. Create one Google doc with different choices or separate Google Docs for each choice and attach in Classroom.
choices and learning objective

Group Docs

A while back I created an Add-on script to assign group documents.


This automatically creates a copy of a template for each group of students and shares it with them. You would simply attach the spreadsheet into Google Classroom with the list of links. No need to make multiple assignments in Google Classroom.



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