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2016 Training
Differentiated Instruction & Assessment
Part A Differentiated Instruction (theory + practice)

Differentiation consists of the efforts of teachers to respond to differences among

learners in the classroom. The differences among learners are connected to different
matters. In the same class there are:

children who have different learning styles and different language abilities;
children who have different needs;
children who have different levels of emotional and social maturity;
children who have different levels of motivation;
children who come from different educational and cultural backgrounds;
children who have different attention spans and interests.

Whenever a teacher varies his or her teaching in order to create the best
learning experience possible to reach out to an individual or small group, that
teacher is differentiating instruction.
Differentiated instruction provides tailor-made options for different teaching
Teachers can differentiate:
the content what the student needs to learn or how the info is presented and
the process the activities in which the student engages in order to make sense of the
the product the culminating projects that ask the student to rehearse, apply, and
extend what he or she has learned in a unit.

Practical Work (in groups)

The aim of the group work was to design differentiated activities for lower and higher
levels of ability.
Activity 1 The activity in the book presents a task about routines with two parts: a)
the children have to tick the activities they usually do after school and b) they have to
write two sentences about these activities.
The teachers worked in groups and some of their suggestions were:
For a lower level
After ticking the activities they do after school, children can
1) do a matching task: they match the visuals with the words that describe the
activities. These words are given in a box.
2) re order the words in scrambled sentences. Example: football / I / school / after /
3) mime the action in front of the class. The class has to guess which activity it is.
For a higher level
1) Students describe all the activities they do after school.
2) Students say what they always, sometimes and never do after school.
Activity 2 In the activity presented in the book the children have to draw an animal
and talk about it.
Suggestions for a lower level:
1) Students draw the animal and say This is my favourite animal. It is a
2) Students mime the animal. The class has to guess which animal it is.
3) Students label the parts of the body.
4) Students choose the correct option from the options given. Example: This is a
.It has got a big/small head. It has got long/short legs, etc.

5) Students complete the gaps in incomplete sentences. Example: This is a . It

has got.It hasn`t got .
Suggestions for a higher level:
Students draw their animal and talk about it: they describe the physical characteristics,
say what food the animal eats and other animal habits.
Part B Assessment (theory + discussion)
Assessment is an integral component of the teaching learning process. It provides
feedback to both teachers and students. This feedback is vital in many aspects:
teachers have information about their practice and its impact on their students. It shows
whether the objectives are met or not. To students, assessment provides information
about their work and progress.
Classroom assessment is the process of collecting and interpreting information in a
classroom for the purpose of providing reliable data to teachers to guide them in their
planning and in their decision making process. It includes a broad range of information
that helps teachers understand their students, monitor teaching and learning, and build
an effective classroom community. Teachers use assessment to do the following:
diagnose student problems, make judgments about student academic performance,
form student work groups, develop instructional plans, and effectively lead and manage
a classroom (Airasian, 1997).
Differentiated assessment is an ongoing process of evaluation where the teacher
gathers information and data before, during, and after instruction to better facilitate the
learning. This process ensures success for all students in the differentiated class with
data provided from a variety of sources assisting in giving an overall view of student
achievement. It is essential that when assessing students in the differentiated
class, assessment is authentic and it offers students a variety of tasks (Chapman
& King, 2012).
We can keep track of our learners progress and achievement through:

Ongoing assessment (sometimes described as formative assessment

Formal testing and mini tests (summative assessment)

More on formative and summative assessment

There are essentially two kinds of classroom assessments: formative and summative.
Formative assessment is sometimes called ongoing assessment. It is a process
used to guide, mentor, direct, and encourage student growth. Teachers use ongoing or
formative assessment to consistently monitor students' developing knowledge,
understanding, and skill related to the topic at hand in order to know how to proceed
with instruction in a way that maximizes the opportunity for student growth and success
with key content. An assessment can be considered formative if a teacher gathers
evidence about student performance, interprets the evidence, and uses the evidence to
make decisions about next steps in instruction that are likely to be better focused or
informed than the decisions would have been without the evidence (Wiliam, 2011).
Summative assessment has a different tone and purpose than formative assessment.
Whereas the intent of formative assessment is to help teachers and students change
course when warranted to improve instructional outcomes, summative assessment is
intended to measure and evaluate student outcomes. Thus whereas formative

assessment is rarely graded, summative assessment suggests that a grade will be

given and a student's performance will be evaluated based, to some degree, on the
information elicited. Perhaps the most succinct and best-known distinction between
formative and summative assessment was provided by Robert Stake (cited in Earl,
2003), who described formative assessment as taking place when a cook tastes the
soup and summative assessment when the guests taste the soup. In the former, the
goal is adjustment while there is still time to adjust; in the latter, there is a finality that
accompanies judgment!

Differentiated assessment is certainly not a mechanism for lowering

expectations for students. Rather, it is a strategy to encourage every student to
meet the same rigorous standards in different ways.

Some strategies to include in evalutation


What I studied and you did not ask (students add -at the end of a test -words or
language that they studied and was not included in the test)
Option of choice in test. (students have one or two compulsory tasks and then a
choice of task: they can choose one from three given to finish the test).

Five-minute warning (students complete a test - then they have 5 minutes to

check their notes or the information in the folders or books finally they close
their books and notes and complete the test).
Extra-Inning (students complete a test and hand in the following day they get
the test back to complete what they did not complete the day before).

Feedback, without doubt, is one of the most powerful influences on learning and
achievement. Feedback from tests should be immediate and positive. By being
immediate its value will be maximized and has a more direct and fresh connection
between the performance and the students. If the feedback comes too late or is not
clear, it loses its relevance altogether.
Negative feedback is punitive by only showing the weak points or the areas that
students have not learnt. On the other side of the coin, positive feedback highlights
what the children have done well and this boosts self-esteem and promotes learning.
Reviewing Achievement
Many teachers set aside some time to talk to their students about their learning and
about what they have achieved. This is Review Time (a learning conversation) to
recognise achievement, to talk about possible obstacles, etc.
The aim is to build self-esteem, to develop childrens confidence in themselves as
learners and to give them a sense of control over the learning process.
Introduction to Scenario-Based Testing (theory and practice)
A useful format that can be used with differentiated tasks is the format presented in a
scenario-based test.
In a scenario-based test all the parts are connected to a scenario, topic or character.
This scenario is presented in task 1 at the beginning of the test and it is later developed
in the different parts. Children receive information about the situation while they do the
test. They have fun meeting new characters and reading about them. The story
develops naturally while they are faced with new tasks in the test. Children love stories,
consequently, by introducing a simple story in a test, some of the tension always
present in a test situation is reduced.
Scenarios should be

selected according to age, interests and level;

credible and in sync with the childrens world;
appealing and presenting amusing characters;
easy to present, develop and follow.

Examples of scenario-based tests may include the following:


It is moms birthday today.

A visit to the zoo.
A new teacher at school.
A super party.

In each of the scenarios listed above, one of the characters may act as the link in the
different parts: listening and reading tasks, dialogue, vocabulary tasks or even a mini
writing activity.
Practical work:

In class the teachers worked in groups. They received different exercises that were not
connected. The aims were to prepare a scenario-based test by linking all the parts
through a character and to add differentiated tasks for a lower level.
Suggested bibliography

Tice, J. (1997) The Mixed Ability Class. Richmond.

Tomlinson, C. (2001) How to Differentiate Instruction in the
Mixed Ability Classroom. ASCD.
Tomlison, C. (2013) Assessment and Student Success in a
Differentiated Classroom. ASCD.

Internet Sites