Differentiating With A Lesson Pretest

You may not do this every lesson, but sometime you should. Pretesting is for a skill you’re going to be using continuously for more than a few lessons. One such example in my high school science class is reading, using, and creating graphs. This is part of a common core science ELA standard for visual and written data “CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7 “. (English Language Arts Standards » Science & Technical Subjects » Grade 9-10.)

I made a pretest on Quizlet as a quick example. Download it here. I may or may not have used Quizlet for this skill, but it works well for this simple example. In the test I want to see if the student is able to identify appropriate common graphs for common types of data. A pretest shouldn’t be too long, so in this one I just give a few examples to look at.

To differentiate the lesson requires planning for each group you plan to identify in your pretest. In this case, we’re looking a simple high-middle-low split. Download the “mindmap” for the general plan here.


Students in this group will benefit most from expanding on the skill. In this example we have them looking at a diverse range of data visualizations from Fathom. They analyze the visual, work on their own ideas, and compare with their peers. It may even be a good idea to have them share what they found with the whole class so that other students aren’t left in the dark.


These are the students you are normally going to teach to. They need a little more practice as you would do normally. It’s important to provide clear instructions and worksheets for them as they also need to work more independently than you might normally design for.

In this case the students will be collecting three different data sets from their peers. Then they need to create appropriate graphs for each dataset. Teamwork should help them stay motivated.

An example of collecting data would be belly button types in the student population. The best type of graph would be the pie graph since it is portions of single population.


These students need more help academically and maybe motivationally. It’s good to go over the assessment again step by step with them. Once you’ve done that they should also have worksheets. The worksheets may be the same as the middle group, or something simpler. Whatever the worksheets are like, you need to help the students through them. After you’ve finished, it’s a good idea to preview the next lesson with this group to give them a leg up.


English Language Arts Standards » Science & Technical Subjects » Grade 9-10. (n.d.). Retrieved June 13, 2016, from http://www.corestandards.org/ELA-Literacy/RST/9-10/#CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RST.9-10.7

Differentiating With A Lesson Pretest

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