Differentiation through a ‘Readiness Filter’?

Carrying on from my last reflection on the differentiation workshops here this week…

Some subjects have a great freedom of curriculum and are natural fits for student-driven inquiry all the way through to MYP 5 (and beyond if they exist as part of our IBDP). In their cases, one might put readiness, interest and learning profile on an equal footing. The path a student takes through the subject could be very different to their peers (with different outcomes), based on the ways in which differentiation is implemented.

Others, such as Science (my own subject) and Maths, feed into quite prescriptive Diploma Programme courses. All paths lead to the same destination – the examination room and assessment of defined outcomes. Clearly there is minimal scope for differentiation of product or content, but plenty of room for differentiation of process. This led our discussions into whether we should be using readiness as a filter* for differentiation in our classes in MYP 4-5 and IBDP.

With clearly-defined command terms linked closely to assessment rubrics and eventually grades, should we (or could we) first use readiness to pitch lessons at the right level for each student and to ensure that they are making those incremental steps towards progress?

I would love to get to the point where I am using readiness and data in most planning decisions, with learning profile and interest to differentiate further within those levels. Flexible grouping tasks would be used to make sure the same kids aren’t always stuck with each other. Lofty ideals, eh?

I’ll let this diagram I cobbled together explain the rest…


*Thanks @LizDK for the word – it fits the idea perfectly!







2 responses to “Differentiation through a ‘Readiness Filter’?”

  1. eadurkin Avatar

    Gotta say, I love the diagram.
    Stephen, it is clear you have put a good deal of deep thought into this, and personally, I think your ideas are fantastic. I would love to observe this in action in your class.
    My only hesitation: it might be a hang of a lot of work. How many different tasks/activities might you create for the one lesson, would you say? Could be around 9: three readiness groups multiplied by 3 learner types, etc, maybe? Do you see it working like that, or differently?
    Lastly, thanks for crediting your source!

    1. Stephen Avatar

      Hi Liz – thanks for the comment!

      I think what I would really see happen is that in classes like ours, I’d be using readiness as the first filter and then looking for other ways to differentiate if they were natural. It wouldn’t necessarily be 9 different tasks (3 levels, 3 Sternbergs, for like you say), but I would look for places there was freedom within the lesson. Maybe different ways to show relationships between concepts or explain biological processes.

      At the end of it all though, we end up assessing against pretty rigid assessment statements, so that really dictates choices.

      Thanks for the comment and food for thought!


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