Our students are not all the same, so we cannot expect that teaching a lesson in one way will reach every student. Our students are unique individuals with their own prior learning and their own learning preferences.
An effective teacher makes the changes needed to reach every student where they are and to guide them to an understanding of the skills and concepts we want them to learn.
Differentiation can take place at several points during a lesson:
Each of these can be further differentiated by student readiness (their academic level) and/or their personal interests and learning styles.
Not every lesson needs to be differentiated, and certainly not in all of the possible ways. When determining the most effect way to differentiate, consider the size of the class, the needs and personalities of the students, the range of skills, the availability of materials, time available and even time of day. The possibilities are endless!