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Using Formative Assessment to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, Grades 4–10

Using Formative Assessment to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction, Grades 4–10
Seven Practices to Maximize Learning

  • Leslie Laud - Bank Street College of Education, New York, USA

March 2011 | 168 pages | Corwin

Seven easy steps to differentiating math instruction for busy teachers

Are you able to support your struggling students while also challenging your high achievers? Research clearly shows the value of using formative assessment to differentiate mathematics instruction, but putting it into practice can be daunting. This book makes it much easier! Staff development expert and former math teacher Leslie Laud provides a clear roadmap for using formative assessment to differentiate mathematics instruction for students in Grades 4–10, using strategies ideal for a Response to Intervention (RTI) model. She presents a comprehensive framework of research-based practices that show how to:

  • Get started and establish norms
  • Implement formative assessment
  • Create tiered lessons
  • Manage a multitasking classroom effectively

Tested and enhanced by experienced math teachers, the book's strategies are designed for use in conjunction with any curriculum or textbook. Included are a wealth of practical examples, reproducibles, and student activities—all developed with effective time management in mind. Whether you are just starting or interested in enhancing your mathematics instruction, this book will prove an invaluable resource.

List of Figures
About the Author
1. Getting Started and Establishing Norms
Getting Started

Establishing Class Norms

2. Formative Assessment
What is Formative Assessment?

Where Am I? Involving Students in Self-Assessment

Where Am I Going? Conveying Criteria or Learning Targets

How Will I Get There? Providing Feedback

Impact of Assessment on Confidence and Motivation

3. Tiered Instruction
What Is a Tiered Lesson?

Tiering by Student Characteristics

Tiering by Instructional Characteristics

Tiering Existing Textbook Lessons

Creating a Tiered Lesson

4. Supporting Students Who Are Low Achieving
Differentiating Instruction in Basic Facts

Differentiating for Conceptual Understanding

Differentiating Procedural Support

5. Challenging Students Who Are High Achieving
Exemptions Based on Prior Knowledge and/or Pace of Learning

Opportunities for Higher-Order Math

Strategies to Avoid

Importance of Challenge

6. Time-Saving Management Strategies
Planning Lessons and Units

Managing Students Working on Different Tasks

Assigning Homework



Suggested Resources

"This practical and thought-provoking book offers time-saving strategies essential for every teacher in every discipline. The numerous self-assessments demonstrate that the best formative assessments are not merely given "to" students but are an interactive learning experience involving students, teachers, and professional colleagues."


Douglas B. Reeves, Founder
The Leadership and Learning Center

"Leslie Laud offers practical support for using formative assessments to inform teachers and students. Her book shimmers with real kids, real classrooms, and real teachers, and includes creative activities that provide both differentiated lessons and opportunities for ALL students to learn."

Glenda Lappan, University Distinguished Professor
Michigan State University

"This book provides a wealth of information for teachers and mathematics leaders to consider when implementing intervention models, RTI programs, and differentiated instruction for low achievers through high achievers."

Don S. Balka, Professor Emeritus
St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, IN

"Leslie Laud has created a very readable and comprehensive guide to understanding what formative assessment is and how to use it to meet the needs of students in the mathematics classroom. She offers many specific examples, covering a variety of approaches teachers can use. What is particularly noteworthy is her recognition that different teachers need to come at this work in different ways - that differentiating instruction is not just for students, but for teachers, too."

Marian Small, Author and Professional Development Consultant
One, Two . . . Infinity, New Brunswick, Canada

"Leslie Laud provides practical applications in mathematics assessment and instruction. She uses many vignettes and examples to paint a picture seen in many classrooms today. Throughout the book, Laud includes little gems that help with such areas as motivational strategies to self-determinism to ideas for visual representations. The many teacher tips and sound solutions will support those who are implementing RTI in mathematics.

Brad Witzel, Associate Professor of Special Education
Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC

"Leslie Laud shows the importance of the link between formative assessment and differentiated instruction. There is a limited body of work that combines these two constructs, and that connection makes this book powerful."

William Farber, Professor of Mathematics Education
Mercy College, Dobbs Ferry, NY

"I learned a great deal and plan to make some changes in my 7th grade math classroom. Leslie Laud takes the 'fear' out of trying this method – she uses concrete examples that can be easily implemented by busy teachers. Her book gave me the initiative, reasons, and strategies to experiment with formative assessments to drive tiered instruction in my classroom!"

Paul Kuhlman, Science and Math Teacher
Avon School District 4-1, SD

"I appreciated the ready-to-teach tiered lesson examples and all of the resources that were shared. This book does a nice job of offering helpful web sites and applicable resources to support the classroom teacher."

Rebecca Link, Middle School Math Teacher
Fort Recovery Middle School, Fort Recovery, OH

"Using Formative Assessment to Differentiate Mathematics Instruction provides teachers with a variety of options that they can put in place right away, with little disruption of what they currently do. The author provides many templates for students and teachers to use immediately, and makes a solid argument, based on research, that differentiation is an important component in student achievement."

Jeff Chaffee, Mathematics Curriculum Enhancement Teacher
Remington Middle School, Franklin, MA

"The recommendations in this book showed me how to organize my class to support each kind of learner. By providing formative assessment for my students, I am helping them learn what they need to do to help themselves. By providing different kinds of experiences for them to use in the classroom, I am giving them tools to support their own learning. Laud's book focuses on what is doable and reasonable for a classroom teacher."

Marty Wagner, 7th Grade Math Teacher
Wellesley Middle School, MA
Key features
  • Based on current research on mathematics instructional practices
  • Includes reproducibles that teachers can use immediately with their students.
  • Presents strategies that were designed with time management in mind and can be implemented gradually over time or introduced in the classroom step-by-step in a short period of time.
  • Shows how teachers can adapt and differentiate existing lessons from required curricular texts.
  • Organized and presented in a way that is easily and quickly accessible to busy teachers.
  • Includes brief real-life examples drawn from the author's and reviewers' classrooms, as well as many successful experiences from workshop participants.

Sample Materials & Chapters

Forewords by Russell Gersten and Dylan William


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