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T H E S K I L L F U L T E A C H E R 545


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A count can be made of how many channels are used for input of informa- tion to students in learning experiences: visual, auditory, and tactile/kinesthetic. Regarding how students act in learning experiences (student output), the num- ber of channels from among the following can be counted: talk, writing, or performance of some kind (such as drawing, building, manipulating, acting out motorically). Regarding motor use, one can record how many of the fol- lowing muscle groups are used by students: large motor, small motor, voice, or passive (no motor).

A tradition of authors from Jensen (2008) to Susan Griss (2013) has clearly established the advantages of movement in the classroom for attention and cognition. They are well worth considering.

One might use data about these three attributes of learning experiences to eval- uate how active the learning was and how that level of physical activity fit goals for the learning program or for the needs of the students. But more likely, the greatest significance of these data will be raising our awareness of the range we can create and the potential for matching that the range will offer.

Simply seeing a variety of perceptual channels operating differentially across students does not prove matching. To support a “Yes” judgment on matching, there must be evidence that a particular mode is being used with a particular student or group of students and that there is not just random variety. Such evidence might be provided by a teacher remark or a systematic assignment system for directing certain students to a learning experience with a domi- nant perceptual mode different from other learning experiences being offered around the same objective to other students.

13. Scale


Sometimes the scale of objects, print, or models used in learning experiences has been enlarged or reduced. The scale of materials used can be either of these two, or it can be normal, that is, as normally found. This attribute begins by a simple count of how many of these three possibilities are present.


Like all the other attributes, scale is an attribute of a learning experience that affects the interaction of the learner with the environment, and that environ- ment is under the control of the curriculum designer and the teacher. It can be controlled to effect. Examining this attribute of teaching brings it to con-



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sciousness and provokes questions about whether all the opportunities for scale manipulation in learning experiences have been taken. For example, by minia- turizing into models, we can bring concepts from the abstract to the iconic level to good effect for students who don’t function well abstractly. Whole outdoor physical environments (a stream, a town, a valley) can be captured in paint on giant sheets of cardboard (3 feet by 4 feet) and unfolded around the periphery of a classroom to simulate the environment of the stream. By enlarging worksheets or other standard school tasks onto giant plastic-covered boards or using giant felt or plastic numbers, a teacher can provide variety to the conduct of otherwise standard learning experiences.


When we see the scale of an object adjusted for use with a particular student or students, we can conclude “Yes” on matching for scale. This can be particularly important for primary children for whom size of print and number of items on a page can be confusing.



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Thirteen Attributes of Differentiated Instruction

1. Source of Information conventional constructed 2. Resources text family audiovisual reference

books teacher interviews online

services imagination

peers observation electronic devices


3. Personal Relevance contrived simulated real 4. Type of Interdependence competitive individualized cooperative 5. Supervision supervised facilitated independent matched 6. Self-Expression no yes matched 7. Degree of Abstraction concrete representational abstract 8. Cognitive Level recall analysis synthesis

comprehension application evaluation 9. Structuring none teacher student negotiated Content Behavior Procedures Products Closure 10. Grouping and Interpersonal complexity

low moderate high matching

11. Information Complexity low moderate high matching 12. Sensory Channels Student input visual tactile/kinesthetic auditory matched Student motor use large motor small motor voice passive Student output talk writing performance matched 13. Scale normal miniaturized enlarged matched

To check your knowledge about Differentiated Instruction, see the exercises on The Skillful Teacher website at www.RBTeach.com/TST7.



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T H E S K I L L F U L T E A C H E R 549

Curriculum Assessment



The primary purpose of classroom assessment is to increase student achievement.



Grant Wiggins (1993) once said that assessment was the Trojan horse of school reform. What he meant, we believe, is that if we did assess-ment properly and lined up all the soldiers it would take to do it well, we would open the gates to the rest of the army of improvement efforts waiting outside the city. Another way of looking at it is certain changes have unusually large ripple effects into other practices, and good assessment is one of them.

The view of what good classroom assessment is has undergone radical changes since the late 20th century. We have shifted from the notion of using tests primar- ily as mechanisms to sort and grade students to using assessment to accomplish the following:

1. Inform instruction.

2. Gather data about what students know prior to beginning instruction (pre-assessment).

3. Continually gather data about how well students are understanding during instruction (formative assessment).

4. Adjust instruction and reteach, when necessary, in an effort to ensure that all students can be successful in the end (summative assessment).

We have shifted from designing and administering tests after completing in- struction to designing assessment tasks before we develop the instructional plan. We have shifted from having students “guess what will be on the test” to making criteria for success and assessment of learning public, precise, and understood by students prior to instruction. While in the past tests had been something done to students, we now see the need to make students partners in the assessment process by developing criteria with students, student self- assessment, student error analysis, student use of feedback, and student goal setting. We have shifted from an “every teacher for himself ” orientation to conviction about the importance of common interim schoolwide assessments developed and used by all teachers who teach the same content. The primary



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purpose of classroom assessment is to increase student achievement rather than to simply measure it for reporting purposes.

Assessment that is designed to increase student achievement is crafted to ac- complish three goals:

1. Motivate students to want to do better.

2. Give students useful information they can use to do better.

3. Inform teachers’ reteaching plans so students can do better.

There are other reasons for doing assessment besides helping students learn more. And some of them are valid. Table 21.1 summarizes 12 purposes of as- sessment. In this chapter, we focus on numbers 3 through 7: assessment as a vehicle for increasing student achievement. This means focusing on classroom assessment as done by teachers on a daily and weekly basis. Thus we begin with the question, What is it that a teacher needs to know about classroom assess- ment?

The foundation for productive classroom assessment is teachers of the same content agreeing on the most important learning standards for the course or se- mester (Reeves, 2004). This is the starting point for a chain of events that leads to good assessment. Without it, students don’t receive cohesive schooling be- cause what they learn will depend on their teachers’ idiosyncratic choices. The logical next step among these same colleagues is to develop common interim assessments that can be used to measure student progress and make instruc- tional adjustments.

Many of our colleagues who have had experience with this in the field, among them Rick DuFour at Adlai Stevenson High School in Illinois and Jamey Ver- rilli and Paul Bambrick-Santoyo at North Star Academy in Newark, New Jer- sey, report that common assessments across teachers who teach the same con- tent, given quarterly and schoolwide, are a powerful lever for elevating student achievement if teachers examine the students’ responses closely and do error analysis to plan reteaching. How these meetings can be structured to maximum effect has been described thoroughly by Marshall (2006).

With long-term (course, semester, or yearly) learning goals established and quarterly assessments designed, we have laid the foundation to support ongo- ing and productive daily and weekly classroom assessment.



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