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Planning for learning not tasks

Consider one of the two assessment examples below.

Each has been planned to elicit evidence of students’ learning at a specific point in the teaching sequence. We want you to consider how you will differentiate the next steps in the learning in whichever scenario you choose.

Make a brief note in response to the three questions before moving on to the next step in the course where we will ask you to consider your own differentiation practice.

You may want to share your thoughts in the comments section about the example you considered; if you do please refer to which of the examples you reflected upon in your post.

Example One

A Year 9 class (14 year olds) were partway through a topic on balanced diet. They had looked at and tested for food groups, labelled a diagram of the gut and discussed the role of enzymes in digestion. Before moving on to look at factors that affect enzyme activity, the teacher decided to use a hinge-point question to check understanding at this point in the topic.

Anna and Jake were given an unknown food chopped up in water. They did the following tests and got these results:

Benedict’s (copper sulphate) Yes Blue Green
Biuret No Lilac Lilac
Iodine No Brown Dark blue

What might Anna and Jake conclude about the unknown food:

A. The food contains no fat
B. The food contains starch and sugars
C. The food contains protein
D. The food contains carbohydrate

In response to the hinge-point question:

4 students selected response B
3 students selected response C
8 students selected responses A & B
16 students selected responses B & D
2 students selected responses A, B & D
1 students selected responses A,B,C & D

Think about the learning of these students.

  1. What stumbling blocks had the teacher planned to assess?
  2. What would these different answers tell you about what a student knows, partly knows or doesn’t know?
  3. How would you differentiate your next lesson/activity to respond and help some of these students overcome the stumbling blocks?

Example Two

In a Year 6 (10 year olds) class, a teacher wanted to check where students were in their confidence with fractions. She put the following quadrant on the board and asked the class to select which type of question they felt they needed more practice with.


Think about evidence of learning that these questions, in each of the four quadrants, might reveal.

  1. What stumbling blocks had the teacher planned to assess?
  2. How would the quadrant the child chooses inform you of what the child knows, partly knows or doesn’t know about fractions?
  3. How would you differentiate your next lesson/activity to respond and help some of these children overcome the stumbling blocks?

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This article is from the free online course:

Differentiating for Learning in STEM Teaching

National STEM Learning Centre