If you are considering differentiation for the first time, the topic may seem overwhelming.  Will your students be capable of the necessary independence? Will they be responsible enough to make good choices?  

Such considerations are not as daunting when the appropriate classroom culture has been created.  Taking time at the beginning of the school year to establish that culture is vital. It is an investment that pays for itself continuously throughout the rest of the year.

The other issue that differentiation raises is how to organize the varied activities.  The solution is the creation of Learning Contracts, a structure that organizes the choices available to students.  The next two chapters explore the aspects of this most useful structure.