Bethel School District Eugene OR

2019_20_Bethel Language Development Team Photo

2019-2020 Bethel Language Development Team




DOK Differentiation

Every classroom has a variety of learners and it takes strategic, intentional planning to meet the needs of all students. Webb’s Depth of Knowledge wheel provides a nice framework for teachers to use daily, in both their planning and teaching. Oregon’s state standards require all students to perform tasks across the four levels. Please see below:

In an effort to provide differentiation for students needing a challenge, it is common for teachers to assign more work through projects, book reports, and other extensions. However, teachers can differentiate daily, across all content areas, by focusing on questions at level 3 and level 4 for students performing at higher levels.

To learn more about Webb’s Depth of Knowledge wheel and how you can apply it to your teaching, click here.

Shifting Our Thinking About Students’ Behavior

Over the course of a day, we find ourselves interacting with students who clearly need our support in a variety of ways. Much of our professional development this year has focused on increasing our background knowledge in the areas of Culturally Responsive PBIS, Resilience Building, and Restorative Practices. As we shift our practices in how we interact with students who are struggling, sometimes it is helpful to unpack our beliefs about why students are behaving in a particular way.

Author and director of Sound Discipline, Jody McVittie, offers a different perspective. See this helpful grid to spur your thinking.

Purposeful Partnering

Teachers often need to create teams or partners for different assignments.There is a strong body of evidence that peer relationships have a powerful influence on academic achievement. Therefore setting up purposeful partners is a key to success in the classroom.  Conducting Purposeful Partnering means teachers deliberately assign or randomly choose teams, groups, or partners AND teach students how to cooperatively work together. Simply partnering students doesn’t guarantee success though. It takes instruction, practice, and monitoring. For now, let’s focus on different ways to partner students. Look for a future post on teaching students to work together once they are partnered.

Deliberate partners have been structured so students are as heterogeneous as possible. Creating a mix of different learning strengths, needs, and achievement levels increases equity and excellence for every student. Students do not know how you created these groups.



Below are some deliberate partner strategies you may want to try in your classroom:

  • Groups of FOUR-SIX:  
    • Jigsaw – teacher creates a diverse group of four to six students
      • Each student is assigned a number and a topic
      • After learning the topic students disperse to similar numbers/topics and discuss the topic in this new group so they become “experts”
      • Students go back to their original group and teaches their topic
  • Partners of TWO:
    • Reading – teacher creates partners who are a little below or a little above their reading level so students are not at “frustration” level

Random partners are selected by chance. Your students see it in action; they know they have not been “singled out.” In this low-risk setting they are more willing to participate. Randomly choosing groups can create a positive and cooperative classroom environment.  

Below are some random partnering strategies you may want to try in your classroom:

  • Groups of FOUR:  
    • Get a standard deck of playing cards for creating “four of a kind”   
  • Partners of TWO:
    • Use flashcards to partner up facts showing the commutative property
  • Click HERE for more ideas

 Try these strategies in any content area.  You will be surprised how quickly it becomes part of your regular classroom routine.

No Opt Out

Everyone learns in a high performing classroom. As teachers, we hold students accountable and maintain the expectation that it is not ok to not try. In Teach Like a Champion 2.0, Doug Lemov states, “Students in your classroom should come to expect that when they answer incorrectly, say they can’t answer, or decide not to try, there’s a strong likelihood that they will conclude their interaction by demonstrating their responsibility and ability to identify the right answer.” Below are a few ways we can assist students in believing in their ability to answer, thus building a culture of validation and success in our classrooms:

Four “No Opt Out” Formats:

  1. You provide the answer; the student repeats the answer
  2. Another student provides the answer; initial student repeats the answer
  3. You provide a cue*; the student uses it to find the answer
  4. Another student provides a cue*, initial student uses it to find the answer

*Cue-the place to find the answer, the next step in a process, another name for a term, an identification of the mistake

You can also use the “No Opt Out” technique to stretch students’ thinking and to give students a chance to show how much they know. Asking a series of similar questions, stretching the question by asking more challenging follow-up questions, having the student identify the error in an initial answer, and celebrating perseverance all result in greater rigor and increased confidence for students in your classroom. If a student in your class is unable to answer, try one of the “No Opt Out” formats above to give that student another opportunity to answer the question and experience success.

For a No Opt Out Cueing Tool Kit, click here.

Take a minute and seven seconds to check out an example of “No Opt Out” in the video below.