A precursor to sustained, effective differentiation is determining what is essential for students to know, understand, and do (KUD) as the result of a unit. Differentiation then occurs to support all students in developing and, if possible, extending the identified knowledge, understanding, and skills. Many teachers have not thought about their curriculum in that way, and therefore developing KUDs can be frustrating at the outset. Without a KUD format (or some other format that specifies essential knowledge, understanding, and skills), teachers tend to give advanced students more work, to give strugglers less work, and to provide related but ill-focused choices for student work. High-quality differentiation hinges on stating and focusing on what students should understand. Developing those understandings will enable students to recall, retrieve, and transfer what they learn. An example of a KUD planning guide from Colchester follows. The concept-based approach to curriculum helps teachers focus their curriculum planning, and subsequently their plans for differentiation, on essential knowledge, understanding, and skills for all students to master while adhering to the requirements of state standards.
The Human Experience: English
Reading and Writing the Self