Series: Success at the Core: Instructional Expertise

Using Expertise to Group Students
Lesson Objective: Pair student needs with teacher expertise to improve learning
All Grades / All Subjects / Differentiation

Thought starters

  1. According to the teachers and the principal, what are the benefits of the differentiated labs?
  2. How are teachers' individual areas of expertise identified?
  3. How does this school use instructional expertise to advance quality instruction?

The differentiated labs allow for students to be met where they are, address their learning needs, to push them to grow and challenge them to stretch even further. Teachers identify their own areas of expertise by discussing which groups they feel they could best benefit. This is a great idea to use self-assessment and the stregths of the teachers to meet the needs to the students. This would benefit ELLs in a mainstrem classroom, by grouping them appropriately and supplying the with the teacher that was the best fit for their learning needs.

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The benefits to this differentiated lab is that the teachers all meet to discuss the learning needs of each child. They then place them into a grouping. Based off of that grouping the students are all learning on their level with challenge as well. The teachers assess which classroom they feel they would benefit in teaching. They look at their strengths in teaching. They work closely together and know each other well. This approach would help group ELLs in mainstream classrooms because the teachers can assess who they feel would be most successful teaching their learning style.
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The benefits of differentiated labs help meet students where they are at and push them to achieve higher. Students are more engaged and take on more active roles when they are in their same-level group. Also lesson plans get a makeover and incorporate expertise from all teachers, improving the quality of the lesson. Teachers identify different expertise through PD experience and willingness to work with a specific group. Teachers's expertise is used to improve the quality of the lesson, for ongoing conferring and sharing different strategies that were successful.
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How do the teachers use data analysis to inform their instruction? The teachers use the scores of the group so that he or she can move at the pace of that group.
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Differentiated labs benefit students across the board. Exceptional students and English-language learners are able to learn the lab at their own pace, which may be slower than the pace in an undifferentiated lab. Teachers found that some of these students who sit quietly in regular labs participate more in the smaller, differentiated group. Advanced students, on the other hand, can be challenged more and also incorporate computer technology other students might not. Teachers ensured students were appropriately grouped by placing them according to objective science exam scores. The teachers know better than anyone what student populations they handle best. They chose populations they've worked with and enjoyed in the past. By breaking the students into three groups for science labs, the school can provide lab experience that will challenge students of all levels without discouraging any.
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School Details

Covington Middle School
11200 Ne Rosewood Rd
Vancouver WA 98662
Population: 1046

Data Provided By:



Byron Molle
Suzanne Sooter
Kristi Young
David Piercy


TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

TCH Special

Grades 6-12, All Subjects, Civic Engagement

Teaching Practice

All Grades / All Subjects / Collaboration