It can be daunting to jump into differentiation when there are so many different ways to do it and seemingly endless possibilities for each student. But don’t worry, differentiation doesn’t have to be hard! In this post, we’ll share three easy ways to start differentiating assessments and student products in your classroom. Let’s get started!
Differentiating Assessments and Student Products According to Student Readiness
One way you can differentiate assessments and student products is according to student readiness. By doing this, you can target assessments to meet the needs of all learners in the classroom. Readiness levels can vary widely from student to student, so it is essential to have various options available.
Before you panic, this does not mean that you must create multiple assessments or projects. It simply means that you work to provide different scaffolds for your students. For example, maybe you allow a student who struggles with multiplication facts to use a multiplication chart when they are completing a long division assignment. This would allow you to actually assess what the student understands about division, not their struggles with math facts.
Another way to differentiate products for readiness would be to provide checklists for students. For example, if the goal was for students to create a graph from data, you could provide a checklist of the items needed to create a graph. They are still responsible to create and implement the graph components, and a checklist could help them do so successfully. Not every student would need this checklist, but it is a great way to differentiate for the students that do.
These strategies would allow you to meet students where they are. They also provide you with a deeper understanding of what the student has learned.
Differentiating Assessments and Student Products According to Student Interest
When it comes to differentiating assessments, one size does not necessarily fit all. Instead, we need to consider the individual interests of our students when designing assessments and projects. In math, this can sometimes be challenging. Often times we give assessments that only have equations or word problems with one correct answer. But there are some ways we can differentiate math products according to our student’s interests.
One of my favorite ways to differentiate according to student interest in math is with math pictures. Math pictures allow students to create an artistic representation of the math they completed.
Here’s how a math picture works. Students receive the problem-solving page and solve the problems to discover how many of each item they need to draw. For example, the problem might say, “Draw a candy store with 2×2 windows. Draw 4×5 colorful lights around each window.” Students would solve the problems and then draw the design based on the solutions. Students are so engaged and interested in the design that they don’t even notice all the math they have to do to create the design.
Math pictures are a great way to assess decimal operations and multiplication and division math facts skills. They are themed according to each month and include a variety of holiday and non-holiday pictures. Math pictures are the perfect activity for early finishers, math centers, and even assessments. Check them out below!
Math Pictures: Decimal Operations
Math Pictures: Multiplication and Division
By differentiating assessments and products according to student interests, you can ensure that your students are adequately challenged and engaged with the material.
Differentiating Assessments and Student Products According to Student Profile
Ultimately the purpose of an assessment or product is to allow students to show us what they have learned. Differentiating assessments and student products according to student profile can be a helpful way to ensure that all students are able to show what they know in a way that works best for them.
For example, a student who is strong in visual learning may benefit from creating a poster or using a graphic organizer to represent what they have learned, while a student who is strong in kinesthetic learning may benefit from role-playing or creating a 3D model.
But what if you need to give an actual paper and pencil assessment? How can you differentiate assessments according to student profiles? Consider the environment. Some students may test well in their desks, while others may need a little more space and the floor with a clipboard would make a good testing environment for them. You also could provide more frequent breaks or even chunk an assessment for students, so they are not overwhelmed with the entire assessment at one time.
By differentiating both assessments and student products according to student profiles, you can create a learning environment that is more inclusive and accommodating to the diverse needs of your students.
Differentiating assessments and student products according to readiness, interests, and student profiles can help you better meet the needs of all your students. If you’re not sure where to start, try one of these new strategies out today. Differentiation doesn’t have to be complicated or time-consuming – small changes can make a big difference for your students. And if you’re looking for more information on differentiation, be sure to check out these posts about differentiating content and differentiating process. Who knows, you might just find that differentiating is easier than you thought!
P.S. Are you interested in learning more about implementing differentiation strategies in your classroom? Download this free differentiation guide to help get you started!