Flexible grouping - Johnston Community School District

Works in the
Kathy Paul
Extended Learning Coordinator
Middle Grades Teacher
Johnston Middle School
Johnston, Iowa
[email protected]
PowerPoint sitehttp://www.johnston.k12.ia.us/schools/elp/resources.html
Johnston Community
School District:
Formerly 6-8 building
Currently 8-9
500 students per grade at middle level
Suburb of Des Moines, Iowa
Extended Learning Programming
Levels of Service
General Enrichment
Classroom teachers observe students for talents and meet
their needs. Occasionally, these students are also involved
in scheduled classes or flexible groups to provide
enrichment or extensions.
Strength Area
ELP teachers provide support for classroom teacher, often
through extensions, teaching strategies or materials.
Students may also participate in a specific class or group for
delivery of services.
Extended Studies (Personalized Ed. Plan)
Some students need differentiated curriculum to progress
Services are documented and include specific academic
classes or opportunities.
Delivery of Service
Scheduled ELP classes
Flexible periods: Using class time from Character
Development Classes/Seminar
Extra curricular activities
Cluster grouping in language arts
Accelerated classes in math and science
Classroom differentiation—became building focus
Study Began in 2005-06:
Surveyed students and teachers of G/T students
Looked at options chosen
Which options utilized
Which options needed to be utilized
Staff meetings/Administrative meetings held
Plans for increasing differentiation
Teacher response
Teacher Comments
“Student choice is most effective, especially when
they propose their own.” -9th grade teacher
“Because I have students with wide ranging abilities,
I use flexible groups for most activities.” -8th grade
“Student choice is the most effective for me.
Students take more ownership and put more effort
into something that they can control.” –8th grade
“It is most effective when I provide assignments that
allow student to make choices without singling them
out as ahead or behind the others.” -7th grade
“All options can be effective. It depends upon the
group you have.” – 8th grade teacher
Student Survey Response
Student Comments: What I wish my
teacher knew about me
I wish they knew what stage I was at or what I could already do. –
7th grader
I am very interpersonal and I love choices. –7th grader
I am responsible and can handle more than most average students.
–7th grader
I get things quickly. And I can’t just sit and read a textbook all the
time. – 7th grader
I like to read and write, and be faced with incredibly challenging
problems –7th grader
I don’t want to be so different from all of the other kids. I don’t
want ELP to be too public. –7th grader
I wish my teachers knew that I like to figure out problems without
help. It would be fine to give me tips, but not to tell me what to do
the whole time. –7th grader
I love pretests, but I’ve not been offered them very often. –8th
I don’t like to work alone. –8th grade
I don’t have patience with people who can’t understand things.
–8th grader
I don’t want to be any more advanced than I already am. –8th
grader who has been accelerated two years in math
Testing out of sections works well, along with providing many
options. –8th grader
Pre-tests and study guides work best for me, although only
occasionally offered. –8th grader
Normally I choose to not do all I can in writing because I don’t
want my teachers I just met to read my writing, because it’s so
personal. I also don’t like to share in front of the whole class,
unless it’s a speech that is prepared. –8th grader
I like staying in my classroom and not being pulled out. –8th
I usually get it after a few problems. I get frustrated with long
assignments where the problems don’t change. –8th grader
To learn best, I need:
To hear it and read it. It helps if it’s not boring. –7th grader
Flexibility and lots of choices. I love tests! I don’t want anyone to
underestimate me or hold me back. –7th grader
To do projects and work with my hands. –7th grader
Something challenging that makes me think deeply. –7th grader
To have choices and work with a group. –7th grader
To be faced with a problem and given time to solve it. –7th grader
Variety. Not just grammar packets or worksheets, actual activities so I can
remember it. –8th grader
To be challenged, to have curriculum that is interesting to me, and to have
time to work on my own. –8th grader
Faster pace. Direct instruction. –8th grader
A good learning environment, but not without the ability to talk to others
and help/be helped by peers. –8th grader
Options Used 2006-2010:
Informal teacher in-service outside of school
In-service as part of professional development,
usually 1-2 hours a year
Graduate credit offered through classes
Monthly differentiation bulletins with ideas
One-on–One with teachers to assist in planning and
in classroom differentiation
Spring 2010
Principal request to assist with differentiation
Worked with AEA staff to design training
Gathered resources & created a Google doc
Prepared staff: read two articles and discussed
Announced training would begin in fall
Response: Make it practical and personal
Session 1: 3 hours
First afternoon back in August
Set up plans with time, topic, materials list, notes
Variety of activities/modeled the strategies we
Differentiated our differentiation training!
First session:
Connect this years’ work to previous work on
assessment and lesson planning, as well as articles last
spring. Creative exercise using synectics as intro. Key
principles of differentiation from Tomlinson/Strickland
Video clips with examples of teachers modeling
strategies for differentiation
Readings by dividing up material/report out
Stations (differentiation by choice)
Lay foundation for future sessions
The fact that students differ
may be inconvenient, but it is
inescapable. Adapting to that
diversity is the inevitable price
of productivity, high
standards, and fairness to
—Theodore Sizer
Welcoming and Safe
Classroom Environment
On-going Assessment
Respectful Work
Flexible Grouping
Key Elements
By addressing
•Learning Profile
You can
differentiate the…
(what you
of content)
(how you
Differentiation Example
While viewing the video clip, focus on the element that
matches your number and list strategies used
Welcoming and safe environment
Ongoing assessment
Respectful work
Flexible grouping
How students respond
Classroom management
Differentiation Example
Get in groups with representatives from each
element 1-6.
2. Discuss the strategies and ideas you saw
3. Discuss how these strategies translate into your
own situations. What can you use? What changes
might need to be made?
Explaining Differentiation
Within your PLC, divide the three articles by Heacox,
Nunley, and Tomlinson so that each one is read
2. After reading, discuss with your PLC how you would
define differentiation to parents.
3. How would you explain it to students?
Stations: Choose 1
Station 1
Station 2
Station 3
Exit Card
Name, subject, grade
Areas in which I want to learn more (pick 3)
Identifying Knows, Understands, and Dos
Assessing interests
Assessing learning profile
Small group instruction
Tiered instruction
Independent Learning and Contracts
Learning stations
Adapting for students with IEPs, ELL students, or ELP
students (specify which)
Flexible grouping
Next steps:
Provided multiple copies of books to support
differentiation available in library for teacher
check-out (Listed in resource section)
Analyzed teacher choices on exit card and
prepared to differentiate our September
presentation, 3 hours
Asked teachers to bring a laptop and a unit to
work on with their curricular team
Session 2 overview
5-Intro : follow up on requests (pre-assessments and grading
listed by most) and humorous pre-test examples
30-Pre-assessment ppt. At table, discuss 1-2 ways to incorporate
45- Curriculum adaptations to support differentiation. Examples
from all areas. Template. Try it out with a unit and then share at
10- Grading - Introduce Wormeli’s book. Will be reading sections
as part of Professional Learning Communities.
55 - Flexible grouping: What it is and then place teachers for
work on choices from exit card
5- Wrap up. Differentiation bingo card challenge
Why Plan for
Establishes the starting point for learning
Students can’t learn what they already know
Match instructional strategies to individual needs
Saves learning time
Ensure students have constant challenge
Proves rationale for your teaching
Differentiation is not defensible without it
Preassessment Tools
End of unit test
Open-ended question
Index card
Mind map
Product or performance
Interview or observation
Key Questions in Planning a
Differentiated Unit
What are my unit objectives?
2. Do I need to differentiate this unit?
3. If so, when and where would work best (both for me and
my students)?
4. How can I ensure that my differentiation is respectful?
5. Over time, are my differentiated practices balanced? Do I
use a variety of differentiation techniques, including
flexible grouping?
Geometry unit example
Template from Designing Services & Programs
for High Abilty Learners, NAGC publication
Flexible Grouping Activity
What: Tiered
pairs, or small
Why: to
increase the
flexibility of
Self-assessment: Do I do a lot with flexible groups or
am I just starting out?
Choose the activity that seems right for you.
Read and follow the activity directions to plan some
differentiated grouping strategies for an upcoming
(This activity allowed teachers to look at flexible
grouping based on interest, learning profile, and
Upcoming: Grading in the
Differentiated Classroom
In the book, Fair is Not Always Equal, there are ten
practices to avoid when differentiating instruction
and assessment.
Read about practice #5 on pages 121-124.
• In your PLC next week, discuss and respond to these
two questions.
① Which idea(s) in this reading connect with your work
last year on formative and summative assessments?
② How could you apply an idea from this reading?
Bingo Cards
Varied options for “playing” with differentiation
For some of your PLC conversations, choose an
option to work on and then discuss during your team
Different people within a PLC may choose different
The PLC can choose one to work on together
Bingo Card
Differentiation Wiki is established so that teachers
may turn in notes/questions from PLC’s.
Staff developers may add articles and use comments
to inform next in-service
Plans for in-service:
Intro on “The Greatest Teacher” with Julie Andrewsyoutube video singing “DO-RE-MI”
Grading in the our middle school
Stations on adapting for special populationsSpecial Ed
English Language Learners
“The Greatest Teacher”
Walk-Around Survey for Use of Group Grades
Critical knowledge or skill
Tiered assignments are the most prescriptive,
learner-responsive, and sophisticated strategy for
differentiation. -Heacox
Use a tiered assignment
when students differ on...
Developmental stages
Readiness for learning
Learning preferences
Amount of structure or support
Amount of time, instruction or practice
Reading skill or prior knowledge
Whether instruction or a task is necessary or
Use a tiered
when you
• something will be too
easy or hard for some
• some students need
more basic work or
others need more
complex work
What makes a well-designed tiered
Tiering by Level of
Task One: Ecosystems
1. Review the words in the word bank.
2. Identify the four ecosystems.
3. Determine which words are characteristics that
describe each ecosystem.
4. Create your own chart, diagram, or graphic organizer
to present each of the four different ecosystems and
their characteristics.
Tiering by Level of Independence
Task Two: Ecosystems
1.Review the words in the word bank.
2.Find the characteristics in the word bank that
go with each ecosystem.
3.Notice that the chart is divided into four
sections, one for each ecosystem. Copy the
characteristics in the box of the ecosystem it
Tiering by Level of Independence
Task Three: Ecosystems
1.Review the words in the word bank.
2.Select the words from the word bank that
match each ecosystem.
3.You have one graphic organizer for each
ecosystem: forests, water, deserts, grasslands.
The boxes on each organizer tell you how
many facts you need to find for each
ecosystem. Copy the words from the word
bank onto the correct graphic organizer.
Steps in Designing Tiered
1. Determine whether a tiered assignment is necessary.
2. Determine the most appropriate way to tier.
3. Shop for ideas, then design, modify, or redesign tasks that
provide "just right, right now" experiences.
4. Do a fairness check.
tasks reflect different work, not just more or less
tasks are equally active, engaging, and interesting
tasks reflect equal demands on time
tasks are clearly focused on a significant and critical
learning goal
5. Determine which students need to be assigned to each tier.
6. Determine type of group (independent, partners, small).
7. Create work cards or directions sheets that can stand alone.
Tiering: 3 stations
Teachers chose level at which they wanted assistance
Packet with examples and instructions at each
Range from Basic to Complex. Analogy of how
students feel when trying new task.
Adapting for special
Chose small group to attend
Video clips
Student examples and feedback (What I wish
teachers knew about me)
Discussion / share modifications that work
PLC “Homework”
Read the article on the web (link is on the Wiki)
regarding differentiation through technology and
answer the questions
Due on Nov. 12
Exit Card (on Wiki)
What have you learned that will be most useful
to you?
What have you implemented?
What do you need more information about?
Exit Ticket: Learned
Some of our pre-conceptions about differentiation
were inaccurate.
Tiered assignments are not always needed, l but we
know when and how to use them.
Tiers can help meet learning differences
Planning lessons using tiering helps me see the
application in my classroom.
We can structure our tiering to be more manageable ,
had been too complex.
Exit Ticket: Used since last time:
Student choice
Graphic organizers
Assessing student readiness
Exit slips
Tic-Tac-Toe board
Differentiated in content and process
Exit Ticket: Need to Know
How to successfully differentiate in a large class (60 plus
for music)
Grading for tiered assignments
How does tiering work in a skills-based class like math?
Timing- When to tier and the flow of the lesson
More examples of successful tiering
Setting up productive group work
Answers to questions generated by
teachers written by trainers and
published in wiki
Planning for next session- Follow up on
management questions about how to
successfully manage a differentiated
Managing the
November 18, 2010
Johnston Middle School
As a result of today’s work, you should be able to describe
develop routines to manage a differentiated classroom
Three Major Roles of
Making wise choices about the most effective
instructional strategies to employ
Designing classroom curriculum to facilitate student
Making effective use of classroom management
Each of these components is critical to the creation of an
effective classroom, but none in isolation will guarantee
instructional effectiveness or student learning.
Management Hot Spots
Work on your own to fill in the first column, “Hot
Spot” areas you encounter or anticipate in managing
a classroom where students are engaged in multiple
activities or groups.
Discuss with your PLC possible problem areas. Add to
your Hot Spots list.
Video: Managing the
As you watch the video use the sheet, “Plus-MinusQuestions” to…
List ideas or approaches that seem positive or
promising (+) in the first column.
List ideas or approaches that seem negative or not as
likely to work (–) in the second column.
List questions you still have (?) in the third column.
From the Plus-Minus-Questions sheet, discuss with
your PLC Possible Solutions (column 2 on
Management Hot Spots sheet).
Fill in possible solutions; those you could try in your
Star (*) the ones you will try soon.
December: PLC (subject areas) 3x
One day/week- each hour, different PLC
Chance to share and discuss
Review materials
Discussion of strategies and tools used in differentiating the classroom
Language arts teachers discussed how scaffolding helped with the writing
assessment prompt. Additional structure/information was added to the same sheet
as the original prompt. The sheet was handed to all students, but those who might
need additional support were quietly urged to use the information
The current Status Quo project all students are involved with has different product
options based on interest, learning profile, and readiness
The books Never Work Harder than your Students and Tomlinson’s new book Leading
and Managing a Differentiated Classroom were referenced as great sources.
Next week: Denise and Holly will discuss how the format of the reading lab could
better assist struggling readers and Kate and Sara will talk about differentiation for
the ELP students.
Another December PLC session:
5th hour World Languages and PE/Consumer Science:
French class looked at learning styles for a BINGO activity.
She had 20 options that helped to format future work.
Alice used learning styles for a project that gave students,
once again, choice. (When students have options at times,
they are often more willing work on the non-optional
PE uses a lot of choice but provides guidelines to make
sure all students are exposed to curriculum. They
incorporate an activity that consists of small parts, each
with specific point values. The groups have to get to 31
points, with certain parameters. This promotes a lot of
logical thinking also!
Danyel presented (Family /Consumer Sci) a template for a
unit on eating disorders, which she analyzed for
An obstacle is having time to differentiate lessons. Next
time, there will be resources available and time to work.
January-February planning
Teachers asked to sign up for one activity from the
Differentiation Bingo Card that they will try and then
report back to their peers the end of February.
PLC continue to read and discuss materials.
Topics for February in-service involve outside
resources. Principal from nearby district to speak
about their switch in grading to support
differentiation, special ed coordinator, reading , and
math specialist from district. School board members
invited to view the session.
Bingo card (ASCD) with choices of teacher tasks: provide
choice, design an anchor activity, pre-assess, use a
graphic organizer, teach a lesson, scaffold a text, etc.
February session- 8:00-11:40 AM
BINGO - Will switch every 3 minutes, 3 times per letter.
Hand out copy of chart. Every one under letter B will
share first. Use table tents to show topics. Facilitators
switch tents for each new letter.
Common Assessments:
Specialists leading discussion: what is working for you in
your discipline, what questions do you still have, what can
you use from today’s session?
Principal from Waukee on assessments
Technology-Training in future PLC groups by district tech
specialist. “My Blackberry is not working”– BBC clip:
Technology Clip
Final sessions: April
2 days, each PLC group
NAGC Webinar on leadership in
differentiation– show selected sections
and then discuss. Used January 2011
Tomlinson/Imbeau webinar.
Staff checklist of differentiation skills
Share strategies working
Staff (41) responses to Differentiation
41: Uses a variety of strategies
34: Responds to student differences by
31: Assignments tiered for students through different
tasks/resources/ levels of challenge.
36: Some students complete modified/adapted tasks.
29: Activities reflect differences in
30: Technology used to create different experiences for
34: Using formal/informal preassessment.
35: Gathering formative assessment data.
35: Purposefully grouping for activities.
Staff responses continued
33: Student choice in content, process, or product.
38: Students choice to work alone/pair/small group.
20: Class resources have different depths of content.
22: Class resources have different reading levels.
16: Using anchor activities for students finished early.
28: Students begin independent work when ready.
14: Workstations represent a range of skill progressions.
10: Workstation print resources at different levels.
14: Students assigned to specific stations/tasks.
20 hours of in-service time
Focus for entire year- built upon past literacy initiatives,
assessments. Link into district initiative for Fishers’
Framework for Learning, which advocates for
differentiation through gradual release.
Continue to survey students/ teachers
Information available- More teachers asking for
assistance . Monthly differentiation bulletin provided.
Resources checked out.
Fall 2011 Survey of 70 Ninth grade students:
What have you experienced THIS year?
64____ Formative assessment (checking for understanding through an
informal quiz, exit slips, etc.)
55____ Tiered assignments (different levels of same assignment are
provided for different learners)
24____ Compacting (eliminating work that student has already
demonstrated mastery)
70____ Student choice in projects/product/ process
54____Independent study
49___Flexible grouping (rotate in and out of a small group of students
within a class)
59____ Advanced or adapted content materials
32____Workstations/Learning centers
64____Techniques involving technology (using technology to change or
adapt the way you show learning)
Fall 2011 Middle School Teachers (20) Survey
Strategies used THIS school year:
17____ Formative assessment (checking for understanding
through an informal quiz, exit slips, etc.)
14____ Tiered assignments (different levels of same assignment
are provided for different learners)
3____ Compacting (eliminating work that student has already
demonstrated mastery)
19____ Student choice in projects/product/ process
7____Independent study
13___Flexible grouping (rotate in and out of a small group of
students within a class)
19____ Advanced or adapted content materials
11____Workstations/Learning centers
16____Techniques involving technology (using technology to
change or adapt the way you show learning)
Which works best?
Flexible Grouping
Formative Assessment
Fall 2011 Middle School 8th grade students (90) Survey
Strategies used THIS school year:
87___ Pre-tests
65___ Formative assessment (checking for understanding through an informal quiz, exit
slips, etc.)
25___ Tiered assignments (different levels of same assignment are provided for different
22___ Compacting (eliminating work that student has already demonstrated mastery)
82___ Student choice in projects/product/ process
73___Independent study
60___Flexible grouping - rotate in and out of a small group of students within a class
50___ Advanced or adapted content materials
59___Workstations/Learning centers
70___Techniques involving technology - using technology to change or adapt the way you
show learning
Which works best?
8 grade responses
Independent study
Flexible grouping
Formative assessment
Advanced content
Fall 2011 Middle School 9th grade students (70) Survey
Strategies used THIS school year:
61___ Pre-tests
64___ Formative assessment (checking for understanding through an informal
quiz, exit slips, etc.)
55___ Tiered assignments (different levels of same assignment are provided for
different learners)
24___ Compacting (eliminating work that student has already demonstrated
70___ Student choice in projects/product/ process
54___Independent study
49___Flexible grouping - rotate in and out of a small group of students within a
59___ Advanced or adapted content materials
32___Workstations/Learning centers
64___Techniques involving technology - using technology to change or adapt
the way you show learning
Which works best?
9 grade responses
Tiered assignments
Techniques involving technology
Advanced materials
How has your teaching changed as a result of training?
More student-centered
Better able to address student needs
Created new assignments to meet needs
More effective to meet all learners
Use pre-testing and formative data to see
where students are and where they need to
Have looked at how my students learn best
References Related to Differentiation
Allen, Linda. Differentiated Assessment and Grading. Peterborough, NH:
Staff Development for Educators, 2008.
Cash, Richard. Advancing Differentiation. Minneapolis: Free Spirit
Publishing, 2011.
Chapman, Carolyn and Rita King. Differentiated Instructional Strategies for
Reading in the Content Areas. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press,
2003. (Similar titles for writing and social studies.)
Coleman, Mary Ruth. “The Importance of Cluster Grouping”. Gifted Child
Quarterly. January/February 1995.
Gregory, Gayle and Carolyn Chapman. Differentiated Instructional
Strategies. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, 2002.
Gregory, Gayle. Differentiated Instructional Strategies In Practice.
Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, 2003.
Gregory, Gayle and Lin Kuzmich. Data Driven Differentiation in the
Standards-Based Classroom. Thousand Oaks, California: Corwin Press, 2004.
Heacox, Diane. Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom.
Minneapolis: Free Spirit, 2002.
References, continued.
Heacox, Diane. Making Differentiation a Habit. Minneapolis:
Free Spirit, 2009.
Hollas, Betty. Differentiating Instruction in a Whole-Group
Setting gr. 7-12. Petersborough, NH: SDE, 2007.
Kingore, Bertie. Centers in Minutes. Austin, Texas: Professional
Associates Publishing. 2004.
Kingore, Bertie. Differentiation: Simplified, Realistic, and
Effective. Austin, Texas: Professional Associates Publishing.
*Nunley, Kathie F. Differentiating in the High School Classroom.
Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin Press, 2006.
Reis, Sally, Debra Burns, and Joseph Renzulli. Curriculum
Compacting: The Complete Guide to Modifying the Regular
Curriculum for High Ability Students. Mansfield Center: CT:
Creative Learning Press, 1991.
Strickland, Cindy A. Professional Development for
Differentiating Instruction. Alexandria: ASCD, 2009.
References, continued.
*Tomlinson, Carol Ann and Caroline Eidson. Differentiation in
Practice, Grades 5-9. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision
and Curriculum Development, 2003. (Also one for grades K-5 and 912)
*Tomlinson, Carol Ann. Fulfilling the Promise of the Differentiated
Classroom, Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and
Curriculum Development, 2003.
Tomlinson, Carol Ann. How to Differentiate Instruction in MixedAbility Classrooms, 2nd ed. Alexandria, VA: Association for
Supervision and Curriculum Development, 2001.
*Winebrenner, Susan. Teaching Gifted Kids in the Regular
Classroom, 2nd ed. Minneapolis, MN: Free Spirit, 1999. (Also
Teaching Kids with Learning Difficulties)
Wormeli, Rick. Differentiation from Planning to Practice gr 6-12.
Portland, Maine: Stenhouse Publishers, 2007.
*Wormeli, Rick. Fair Isn’t Always Equal. Portland, Maine: Stenhouse
Publishers, 2006.
*Purchased multiple copies for professional library

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