Learning Walk for Formative Assessment and Differentiation

Focus Area: Formative Assessment and Differentiation

CInstructional Coaches, LLeaders

Pathway: Ownership


BetterLesson believes that school and district leaders are first and foremost instructional leaders, investing in people and systems to improve learning opportunities and outcomes for students. Our goal is to provide leaders with processes, tools, and support for making organizational change and improving learning for students. We can help build leaders’ capacity in instructional leadership through a Learning Walk, a non-evaluative process used by leaders to assess the quality of student learning and effectiveness of instruction in their buildings, focusing on how leaders can support improvements to the learning experience. Learning Walks will consist of two learning experiences, a Learning Walk Launch and a Learning Walk Cycle.

In this Formative Assessment and Differentiation Learning Walk, leaders will learn about using assessment as part of the learning process including how to leverage checks for understanding, student-centered assessment, feedback, data, and grouping to support students in developing understanding of key content and skills. We will do a deep dive into the evidence and look-fors of formative assessment and differentiated instruction in the classroom and the available supports and resources for formative assessment and differentiation.


This Learning Walk is designed for school and district leaders, instructional coaches, and teacher leaders who are prioritizing Formative Assessment and Differentiation in their schools or districts and would like to take a student-centered approach to their role by developing their craft in coaching, observation, and feedback.


These Formative Assessment and Differentiation Targets can be selected for the Learning Walk Cycle sessions to take a deeper dive into evidence of these outcomes in the classroom and student learning.

  • Checks for Understanding:I design varied checks for understanding that provide insight into my students’ comprehension.
  • Designing Student-Centered Assessment: I design student-centered assessments that support students to demonstrate their learning.
  • Creating a Culture of Feedback: I create and refine systems of student-centered feedback in my classroom that support students to take ownership of their learning.
  • Tracking Progress with Data: I create systems in which my students and I collaboratively use data to track academic progress.
  • Differentiation with Grouping: I design differentiated learning experiences by using strategic student grouping.

Learning Experience


The Learning Walk Launch can be experienced as a 1-day in person workshop with an onsite BetterLesson coach guiding classroom walk-throughs, or as a two 2-hour virtual workshop facilitated by a BetterLesson coach, followed by independent classroom walk-throughs.

In the Learning Walk Launch, participants will…


  • Explore the benefits of a Learning Walk:
    • To build capacity of school leadership
    • To identify “look-fors” in Formative Assessment and Differentiated instruction
    • To effectively support change
  • Build understanding around the grain size and key components of Formative Assessment and Differentiation
  • Be oriented to a tool to facilitate the Learning Walk process for the Formative Assessment and Differentiation Focus Area
  • Prioritize Targets for Formative Assessment and Differentiation in their own school context


  • Practice using the Learning Walk tool by participating in short, group classroom walk-throughs (in-person) or by evaluating curated artifacts and resources (virtual)
  • Collaboratively reflect on the Learning Walk process and tool


  • Synthesize data from the Learning Walk using a digital tool to identify trends in the evidence they collected
  • Build a plan for implementing Learning Walks in their schools


After participating in a Learning Walk Launch, participants will engage in collaborative cycles focusing on one Target area within Formative Assessment and Differentiation. The Learning Walk Cycle can be experienced as a 1-day in person workshop with an onsite BetterLesson coach guiding classroom walk-throughs, or as two 2-hour virtual workshops, facilitated online by a BetterLesson coach, with independent classroom walk-throughs.


  • Build understanding around the key components of a Formative Assessment and Differentiation Target
  • Take a deep dive into the “look-fors” and evidence of this Target within the classroom using curated artifacts to identify exemplars
  • Prioritize look-fors within a Target to develop a focus for the Learning Walk


  • Collect data and evidence for the Formative Assessment and Differentiation Target through participating in classroom walk-throughs and evaluating curated artifacts
  • Collaboratively experience a protocol to reflect on the effectiveness of using a narrow lens when observing student learning


  • Synthesize data from the Learning Walk using a digital tool to identify trends with the evidence they collected
  • Align on the evidence for a particular look-for in a Target and evaluate the effectiveness of the tool for that Target in their context
  • Analyze their learning around the Learning Walk process to help build a plan for continued implementation