Differentiating Assessment

By Adrian Gray

I am sometimes asked how after a busy lesson that the learning can be individually assessed, particularly after group presentations and research activities. The following may assist and can also be used to ‘fill’ those few minutes at the end of the session where energy drops and the students are focusing on leaving the classroom!

The system that can be used is simple but does focus the student’s minds on what has been taught and at the very least should invoke some reflection on their behalf.

Two models can be used both of which work the same way. Draw an arrow or if you prefer a picture of a mountain on the white board. Then mark different pints on the diagram; show the top of the arrow/ mountain as being the point where anyone reaching that point will have a full understanding of the topic taught maybe including an ability to evaluate/ analyse (much like Bloom’s taxonomy). Thus the bottom point will be where no understanding/ awareness of the topic is present.

You can draw this at the beginning of the lesson if you wish so that student can at that stage indicate where they see their knowledge should be indicated. If you have nervous students you could give them individual copies of the diagram on which they can indicate their levels. This will reduce peer pressure/embarrassment issues where they may not want others to know that they do not understand a topic and need help. At the end of the lesson the students individually repeat the exercise thereby showing that they have moved up the mountain/ arrow. You should then ask the students to justify their new individual grading.

The mountain diagram is my preference as I include a base camp ( starting knowledge level) and have several different levels as they climb the mountain, maybe having reward levels as they progress. This can make the review fun.

Thus you end up with a model where you can evidence and challenge individual progress, evaluate how effective your lesson was and should the need require set action plans for individual.

I would be pleased to explain this matter should anyone wish.


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