Pre-Assessment for Differentiation / by Tyler Wood

 Photographer: Jack Delano. Chicago, Illinois. In the waiting room of the Union Station (1943) Library of Congress.

Before I can plan my differentiation, I need to acquire some data on my students. Pre-assessment is the way to do that. There are many ways to pre-assess. Click the button below for more ideas.

My school is adding iPads in each class this year and we want to utilize the new technology in our pre-assessment. I have chosen to pre-assess with a Kahoot Quiz. This offers and fun and quick way to pre-assess that the students might even find fun. Click the button below to go to my assessment. 

After taking the quiz, I use the data gathered to construct a strategy for how I would differentiate instruction for each group. In figure 1.1, you can see how the groups will be split up and differentiated for.

The green group is made of the students who answered all of the questions correctly on the pre-assessment and are well versed in the standard. I will go beyond the standard with this group and they will help to create a game that the other two teams can play later on.

This activity will allow the "Super Sleuths" to engage with the material deeper and still be learning something new by applying their knowledge. They will be able to create clues and think about what clues will help or hurt the player. Which clues would be too easy or too hard. They will also write out suspect cards to offer a way to match the clues to a criminal to solve the crime presented to the player. 

Figure 1.1

The yellow group is made up of the students that missed one or two questions on the pre-assessment. They are not struggling with the concepts but need to focus on the standard to master it. The "Investigators" will be working in a group to solve a mystery from a short story. They will read the story and use a graphic organizer to write down the clues they think are useful to solving the mystery. They will share the details they have identified with the group and they will all discuss which clues will help them solve the mystery. They will finish the class by submitting their solution to the riddle separately. This will allow them to help each other fill in any gaps they may have had identifying and referring to details in a passage. The group will help each other out, but each student will still need to identify details for themselves and ultimately decide what solution they think works the best based on the details they identified. This will help them prepare for the game the "Super Sleuths" are making for them. 

Finally, the red group is made up of students that missed more than half of the questions on the pre-assessment. They might be struggling to understand the basic concepts of the standard and need a little more re-teaching or detail work. The "Detectives" will be visiting with the "Inspector" (teacher) and doing a little more detective training. They will work together to come up with different ideas they struggle with and make study guides to hep teach future "Detectives" how to find details and examples in a passage. This group will work on making study guides (or study tools, like flash cards) that they can share with each other and practice with (Pendergrass, 2014). 

Once they have finished the lesson, they will all be assessed on their knowledge. The "Super Sleuths" will be assessed on their game project. They will be assessed on how well they organized the clues and suspect cards to work together, how hard or easy the clues were, and how well they used the details to help or hinder the players. 

The other two teams will be playing the game and be assessed on how they play the game. The players will need to be able to apply the knowledge they learned (or relearned) in the lesson. They will need to identify the details that are useful in the crime scene and the suspect cards and try and decide who the criminal was. They will be assessed on how well they guessed the right criminal, but also on what details they used and how they applied them to the solving of the crime. If a student were to get the wrong suspect but they used good clues and followed a different, though still logical, path to get there, they might also score high for applying their knowledge in an appropriate way, for example. 

By the time the lesson and game end, hopefully the students do not even realize they had been working on this standard because they were having fun creating a game and playing a game to notice, but will be masters of finding and applying details and drawing inferences. 

For more on differentiation click the link below.



Pendergrass, E. (2014). Differentiation: It Starts with Pre-Assessment. ASCD. Retrieved from