Assessments for the Differentiated Classroom
- Grades: 3–5, 6–8
Formative assessments are ongoing assessments, observations, summaries, and reviews that inform teacher instruction and provide students feedback on a daily basis (Fisher & Frey, 2007). While assessments are always crucial to the teaching and learning process, nowhere are they more important than in a differentiated classroom, where students of all levels of readiness sit side by side. Without the regular use of formative assessment, or checks for understanding, how are we to know what each student needs to be successful in our classroom? How else can we ensure we are addressing students' needs instead of simply teaching them what we think they need?
In her new book, 25 Quick Formative Assessments for a Differentiated Classroom, Judith Dodge describes a variety of simple techniques for ongoing assessment integrated into the instructional day. Try some sample activities in your own classroom using the excerpts below.
Tips for using formative assessments to help you differentiate instruction and improve student achievement
Noting What I've Learned is a simple notetaking strategy that can be used in all grade levels and across the curriculum. Used with struggling students or students new to note taking, Noting What I've Learned provides an introduction to a critical skill that students must master to be successful in school.
Four More! is an assessment tool for closure that integrates collaboration, movement, and individual accountability. Students who struggle to stay seated all day long will welcome this movement activity.
A Unit Collage is a student-generated, ongoing, visual synthesis of a topic studied in class. It includes on one page a group of eight to ten drawings, symbols, captions, and so forth that capture the essence of a unit of study. Creating individual unit collages allows students to process information more deeply through their own synthesis of ideas, both visual and linguistic. The benefits of completing a Unit Collage are many.
Research has shown that summarization yields some of the greatest leaps in comprehension and long-term retention of information (Wormeli, 2005). A WriteAbout is a concrete tool for summarization in which students use key vocabulary terms (the language of the content area) to synthesize their understanding in a paragraph as well as represent key ideas graphically. Combining both verbal-linguistic and spatial intelligences, this assessment tool is a favorite of many students.