Differentiation with the Grid Method in the World Languages Classroom

Marcia Davis, OFLA Secondary Language Learning Chair
Assistant Principal/Former Spanish Teacher, World Language Middle School, Columbus City Schools

Meeting learners’ needs can be challenging, to say the least. Differentiating instruction is one way to help meet those challenges. According to Carol Ann Tomlinson, differentiation can be by content, process, or product.

Differentiation by content does not mean that students are presented with different knowledge, understanding or skills, but that how students access that information can look different. It can look like students working independently or with a partner to read a novel in the target language, watching a video in the target language, or the teacher providing scaffolding to students in stations.

Differentiation by process means that students learn to take ownership of content so they can make sense of it and how it relates outside of the classroom. In a world language classroom, it can look like students working individually or in small groups, reading and listening in the target language, and asking questions about the content. It is expected that students will make mistakes and that they will learn at their own pace.

Differentiation by product means that students can demonstrate their learning in a variety of ways. Students can suggest how to provide evidence of their learning or the teacher can offer students choices about how they provide evidence. The GRID method is a framework that incorporates content, process or product.

The GRID method builds a tiered instructional unit that starts with the standards to design learning intentions based on depth of knowledge (DOK) levels and essential questions. From there, the teacher designs activities to engage students and to allow them to demonstrate mastery. Teachers set daily goals and monitor students’ progress through formative assessments to offer feedback.

The GRID is more than a choice board because the learning opportunities progress through DOK levels and establish and reinforce fundamental skills that culminate in critical thinking to address the essential questions. 

In my classroom, I used the GRID to design a unit on Colorism that I taught during Black History Month. This unit aligned with the AP theme of Beauty and Aesthetics with an essential question of, “How do the ideals of beauty and aesthetics influence daily life in the U.S. and in Latin America?” Our learning intentions included, “I am learning to recognize and identify the historical cultural perspectives of colorism in Latin America and in the U.S.,” “I am learning to examine and compare the cultural perspectives of colorism in Latin America and in the U.S. and how they are portrayed in the media and other sources,” and “I am learning to prove my understanding by analyzing the cultural perspectives of colorism in Latin America and in the U.S.” 

I prepared students for this unit by frontloading critical vocabulary through comprehensible input picture talk activities to present information on stereotypical images, specifically, the Mexican comic book character, Memín Pinguín. Then, my students worked independently and in small groups to participate in a series of learning opportunities that included reading articles, viewing videos, answering questions, writing reflections, and using graphic organizers to prepare for a Socratic Seminar to address the essential question. My students were engaged and intrigued by the similarities among the cultures we explored. 

If you are interested in learning more about how the GRID framework can support differentiation in your classroom, please visit: https://teachbetter.com/blog/what-is-the-grid-method-2/

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