Using the Quick Check to Inform Differentiated Instruction

Contributed by Jessica Palmer-Gwaltney


As educators, we know how important formative assessment is in our classrooms. Formative assessment gives us a chance to check for understanding during lessons and use that information to guide our instructional decisions.

The big issue with assessment is that often times we may feel that we don’t have the time to assess thoroughly or repeatedly. With pressure to “cover” standards and adhere to pacing guides, how can we get everything done?

Formative assessment can actually be a time saver when we have the right tools. The most effective formative assessments are done during the learning process—as part of the lesson—to gain information about students’ understanding as they build understanding. That way, teachers can use that information to modify and differentiate instruction to improve learning outcomes.

There are a variety of formative assessment opportunities in enVisionmath2.0, but my personal favorite is the Quick Check. It’s short, effective, and built right into the lesson components, so it’s not an “extra” thing to do during a busy day of teaching.

Administer the Quick Check

To use the Quick Check, simply assign students the Independent Practice at the end of Step 2: Visual Learning. While students work on the Independent Practice, find the items marked with check marks in the Teacher’s Edition. These items (the Quick Checks) are designed to formatively assess students’ progress on the essential mathematics of the lesson. Their responses to these items gives you valuable information about which students have mastered the material, which students are on target, and which students are struggling.

Review Student Responses

Once you administer the Quick Check, review students’ responses to check for understanding, provide feedback to students during the lesson, and decide your next instructional steps for differentiated instruction.

If you have students take the Quick Check online via Pearson Realize, students’ responses are automatically scored, and you can choose to have Pearson Realize automatically assign a leveled, differentiated assignment based on the results.

If you don’t assign the Quick Check online, the Independent Practice problems are in the Student Edition, and the items identified in the Teacher’s Edition with a check mark are the Quick Checks. Students can turn these problems in to you on paper or in math journals, as long as you are able to review their responses quickly, since the key to effective formative assessment is to be able make instructional decisions on the spot.

When I was a teacher, I went through piles of index cards. While students worked independently in their math journals, I passed out an index card to each student and let them know which problems to answer on the card. Students put their names and answers on the card, and I collected them, reviewed their answers, and sorted the cards into piles (all correct, some correct, none correct). Those piles of cards became my small groups for the next part of the lesson!

Do you have mini-whiteboards (or copy paper, sheet protectors, and dry-erase markers)? Have students do the Quick Check problems on the whiteboards so that you can rove the room as students work, review their Quick Check answers quickly, and mark their whiteboards with a symbol or number that indicates their small group. (Make sure to change the symbols or numbers frequently so that students don’t associate a certain group with poor performance.) Have students use the symbols or numbers to find their group members.

Using whatever method works for you, review students’ responses to the Quick Check items during the lesson so that you can form small groups and prescribe differentiated instruction.

Prescribe Differentiation

Now that you have formed your small groups based on students’ responses to the Quick Check, use enVisionmath2.0 resources to provide differentiated assignments or activities during Step 3 of the lesson.

In the Teacher’s Edition, use the Response to Intervention (RtI) chart to see the corresponding Intervention, On-Level, and Advanced activities to assign based on the number of points students earned in the Quick Check. Students can work on these leveled assignments independently or with small groups while you work with other groups.

What if students finish those assignments quickly, or they need opportunities for movement during math time? Consider setting up some centers or stations for students to complete while you work with small groups. Use the On-Level Activity Centers, Advanced Activity Centers, and Technology Centers for quick station ideas. You can group students heterogeneously and have them rotate to each center for a few minutes, or assign students to certain centers based on the Quick Check results. The Math and Science Activity might make a fun station for students as well!

Do you have students who enjoy working on computers or other devices? Set up some time in the computer lab—or gather a few tablets/laptops—and set up technology stations as part of your small-group or center time. Have students work individually or in small groups on a variety of digital resources such as Practice Buddy: Homework & Practice (Grades 3–5), Math Tools and Math Games, Another Look videos, and Adaptive Homework & Practice Powered by Knewton (Grades 3–5).

No matter which resources and small-group structure you use, students will benefit from differentiated assignments and activities that meet their needs based on the results of the Quick Check.


Hopefully you’re inspired to use the Quick Check and enVisionmath2.0 differentiated resources in a new way in your classroom! Comment here to share ideas with each other, and check out the My Pearson Training enVisionmath2.0 Differentiation tutorial for more information about differentiation and intervention.

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