Pre-Assessment for Differentiation

Students enter each class with a broad range of knowledge. Let’s say that today in class you’re going to discuss recycling and its importance. There will be a significant number of students that have heard about recycling in school previously or have chatted about it with their parents. Some, if not most, will have experience with recycling for themselves firsthand. Of course, there will also be others that haven’t encountered recycling before and will need extra help and instruction with the material before they’re ready to move on. So how do we differentiate to get everyone on the same page and ready to learn new material to gain a more in depth understanding of the topic? Pre-assessment.

Assessing your students’ knowledge prior to jumping in helps in a lot of different ways. It shows us:

  • What students already know
  • What they need additional help with
  • How we can delve deeper

In the lesson I am planning to teach to my fourth graders – a unit on the environment. This unit strives to ensure that language plays an important role in identifying global environmental issues as well as promoting sustainable and eco-friendly solutions. To reach this goals, lessons will be geared around the following big ideas (more specific big ideas are included within each lesson):

  1. Research through inquiry
  2. Generate information from different sources
  3. Note-Taking
  4. Organization of Ideas
  5. Opinions on topics
  6. Points of view
  7. Supporting Information for Opinions
  8. Collaboration with peers
  9. Relevant information

Some of these objectives directly overlap with what students were meant to learn in Phase 1 and Phase 2. More specifically, most students that have been studying with the IB standards will already be familiar with researching through inquiry.

Step 1: Pre-Assessment

Though I am unable to share the interactive quiz link here, I would ask students to complete this pre-assessment quiz on the environment that I have scanned at attached. The quiz includes vocabulary questions where students need to match definitions. Grammatical questions, a reading on the environment where students will respond to short answer questions and a short essay section.  . This would help me determine which students are already at or beyond the proficiency level expected of them in Phase 3, which need a little bit of a refresher by working with it on their own, and which need some additional help from me, the teacher.


Step 2: Differentiate in Groups

After the pre-assessment quiz which is given to all students I would review the results immediately and sort the students into three groups. Group 1 – the students who answered the most including the most difficult of the pre assessment questions correctly. Group 2 – students who have some knowledge about the topic as shown in the score but need to develop higher order thinking skills. Group 3 – students who appear to have limited knowledge about the topic. The activities would range from more challenging activities for the students in Group 1 where they get the opportunity to test their knowledge. Group 2 students would be given some topics they need to review again to see what they did not perform well on from their pre assessment.  Group 3 students would have to have a refresher of the topics and be taken through the lesson again to figure out what they did not understand or do not know. I have included a chart that gives a more clear description.

Step 3: Learn Together

Following these strategies, I would work with the class together to gain a deeper understanding of the grammatical, vocabulary, and reading content through the lessons focused on student centered learning through extra workbooks we provide that are created by a collaborative group of teachers. Pictures below are some examples.

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