From gardening to evaluation (part two)

Students do not meet all learning goals at the same time. This is why progressive differentiation and evaluation allow them to develop at a pace that respects their needs.

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In the first part of his article, Julie compares the vegetables from the garden to the students, picking to assessing and planting to learning situations. Here she shows you concrete ways to save time and eliminate the burden of correction.

Students are like vegetables

I don't think I have to convince you that not all students can achieve the learning goals at the same time. That's why progressive differentiation and assessment allow students to develop at a pace that meets their needs. These methods also give teachers the opportunity to put their energy in the right place, both in supporting their students and in the evaluation of learning.

Teachers correct too much

No one wants to add to the teachers' task. However, if I compare with gardening, it could mean observing more and picking less (pick being the assessment). And when it comes to harvesting, that could mean evaluating fewer goals at a time, but doing it more regularly. This could take different forms: assessing when the student feels ready, assessing small parts both to provide frequent feedback and to allow the student to improve as the project progresses. There are as many possibilities as there are educational intentions.


Regular feedback and observations need not always come from the teacher and be done at home. With sharing tools, it is possible to give effective and rapid feedback while students are at work. It's a win-win! They get feedback when they need it, and the teacher doesn't overload themselves with extra work.

Useful feedback

With regular observations, traces that can be shared with students and parents, final evaluations no longer have to be so frequent. Through definitive, I hear that we can no longer improve our production. If the teacher spends less time correcting long productions, it frees up time that can be reinvested to re-evaluate elements that the student would have reworked and improved thanks to the comments received along the way. This second correction will be less tedious since there has already been a first feedback work. Students therefore pay more attention to feedback since they have the opportunity to improve thanks to it.

Burst questions and answers

What are the advantages of differentiation?

  • Release of the teacher from the front of the class to be in the class;
  • Personalized support for students in difficulty;
  • Respect for everyone's needs;
  • Assessment for learning;
  • Decreased anxiety among students and teachers regarding assessment;
  • Respectful relationship between the students and the teacher;
  • Learning to collaborate;
  • Commitment to learning;
  • Sense of competence + feeling of belonging + feeling of autonomy = increased motivation (Frédéric Guay, full professor, Department of educational foundations and practices at Laval University).

How to do?

Here are some suggestions. On the other hand, know that there are as many ways to differentiate in the classroom as there are educational objectives. Also keep in mind that it may be necessary to start with a diagnostic evaluation!

Hyperdocs or Google Sites : planning board that students can follow at their own pace through hyperlinks;

Differentiation in reading using texts classified in two, three or four levels of difficulty:

  • In teams, the pupils divide the texts;
  • Individual reading and note taking;
  • Teams of experts grouped by text to compare their understanding of the text and complete their note taking;
  • Mixed teams that share their learning (this method allows students to touch on four different texts on the same subject while having read only one).

Differentiation of instructions for the same educational objective in written production:  

  • Beginners: correction of errors in one of their texts (eg description of the character);
  • Intermediaries: correction of errors and addition of part of the text (eg description of the character and addition of his imaginary friend);
  • Progress: reinvestment through a new production, a creation, a complete text (eg bringing the character to an adventure).

Frequent feedback:

  • Adding comments in real time while students are working (Google tools);
  • Collaboration between students;
  • Quick feedback tools such as Talk and Comment, Check Mark, FlipGrid, EdPuzzle, Socrative and many others;
  • Self evaluation;
  • Peer feedback;
  • Progressive portfolios.

And the fastest in all of this?

  • We use it to help us if they wish (realization of tutorials, support for students, mini-teachers of a course);
  • They are prepared for a system of challenges where they can collect privileges or rewards (exemptions from evaluations if the school allows it, letter of recommendation for Secondary V students, system of effort vouchers);
  • They are made to spend time on subjects that are more difficult for them;
  • They are offered enrichment platforms (readings, educational videos, educational games);
  • They are given tasks that will be an additional challenge for them (e.g. the weak correct their mistakes, the intermediaries correct their mistakes and add a character to their descriptive text to consolidate the mastery of the descriptive text, the advanced write a narrative text from of their characters from their descriptive text)

What if I don't have time?

  • No need to recreate everything, often small changes are enough;
  • Don't change everything at the same time;
  • Lots of material available online;
  • Create a system at the start of the year that is good for the whole year;
  • Tool bank to use and reuse;
  • The investment of time will pay off big;
  • Find people to work with;
  • Take the time to set one or two professional goals per year or per step, then go back in time to dissect them on a timeline. This makes it possible to target essential educational objectives in order to simplify planning.

Carrefour education refers you to a site that offers help capsules on educational differentiation.

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