Assessment Strategies for Differentiated Instruction

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  • 0:04 Choosing the Right Tools
  • 1:13 Planning
  • 1:52 Differentiating Content
  • 3:00 Differentiating Process
  • 3:49 Differentiating Product
  • 5:26 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Allison Camps

Allison has taught in elementary school inclusion classrooms and has her master's degree in Special Education.

In this lesson, you'll learn the steps it takes to create a lesson that meets all students' needs. You'll also learn how to differentiate your instruction and assessment to meet a variety of learning styles.

Choosing the Right Tools

Imagine you are putting together a bike. You look in your tool box and find only a saw. You know that the saw is not going to help you screw in the nails or turn the bolts on the bike. You might get so frustrated that you give up on putting the bike together. Now imagine you open that same tool box. In the box, you find a screw driver and a wrench. You lay out all the pieces to the bike. You make a plan, and after some hard work, your bike is put together. You feel accomplished and confident.

Students, too, need the right tools to demonstrate their learning and feel confident. Let's say a teacher assigns the class to each write an original fairy tale in paragraph format. Some students get right to work, while other students seem to have trouble beginning the assignment. These students can't seem to find the correct tools to complete the task. Eventually, these students give up.

The teacher realizes that a single assessment tool does not work for every student. When the teacher reflects on the success of the lesson, she realizes that if she had provided various activities, she would have had a better gauge on the students' understanding of fairy tales.

Planning

As teachers, we want our students to feel confident and proud of their work. In order for this to occur, a teacher must differentiate, or provide multiple opportunities for learning. Learning styles are just like fingerprints: everyone has one, but everyone's is unique.

When planning a lesson, a teacher must take into account all students' learning styles.

There are four types of learners:

  1. Visual learners
  2. Auditory learners
  3. Read-and-write it learners
  4. Tactile or kinesthetic learners

Once there is a grasp on the various learning styles, a teacher can then differentiate the content, process, and product.

Differentiating Content

Lessons are based on objectives, or statements that specify what the learner will be able to do at the end of the lesson, from a given curriculum. This is the content of the lesson. In a given lesson, there will be students with no background knowledge of the topic, students with a basic understanding, and students that are ready to use higher-level thinking. Some example activities for differentiating content:

  • Reading and answering questions
  • Completing a chart
  • Comparing and contrasting similar topics
  • Copying notes from the board

Let's go back to the lesson on fairy tales. While planning the content, the teacher has two groups of learners: above-grade-level readers and on-grade-level readers. The objective for the lesson is for students to identify two or more characteristics of fairy tales. For the on-grade-level group, she assigns them to read the fairy tale, identify two characteristics, and give an example to support each characteristic. For the above-grade-level group, the teacher assigns the students to read two versions of the same fairy tale and choose two characteristics from each story, along with text support.

Differentiating Process

Process is the manner the students learn the topic. This is when learning style comes into play. A teacher must take a single topic and provide various ways to deliver the content. Some example activities for differentiating process:

  • Textbooks (visual learners)
  • Books on tape or word-to-text software (auditory learners)
  • Games, plays, and interactive software (tactile learners)

In the fairy tale lesson, the teacher can differentiate and meet all learning styles by having various versions of the same fairy tales. For example, there could be a print version, book on tape (set up with headphones), and script or play version of the same story. Knowing the individual student's learning style, the teacher would assign students to the version that suits him/her best.

Differentiating Product

Product is the way a student demonstrates learning. This is the step that translates to different kinds of assessments. Instead of assigning the students one way to demonstrate understanding, a teacher needs to differentiate, or provide multiple opportunities. Often a teacher will allow the students to choose the activity that suits them best. Here are some example activities:

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