Caring for diverse learners by employing the “five-kid grid.”

by Tim Dove

All Grades


The “five-kid grid” is probably one of the most important things I’ve used in my career to keep me fresh as a teacher and to be able to effectively respond to diverse learners.

The “five-kid grid” is a series of activities where there is:

-Self-reflection in terms of my own biases and experiences,

-A perspective consciousness piece about who is sitting in my classroom, and

-A period of planning where I use what I’ve learned to ensure that I am meeting the needs of all my students.

I begin by looking around my classroom and acknowledging which students look and act differently from me. Then I’ll interview them. Based on what I learn, I make a list of the attributes of five kids and use that as a starting point for developing teaching approaches that meet the needs of those five “types.”

Five isn’t a magic number but it gives me a way to continuously remain conscious of my own biases and the differing needs of my students.


What I did well…

In this instructional sequence, I’m effective in laying out the context for why this strategy is needed. During the subsequent sections, the components of the strategy are clear.  It is important as a professional, to be self-reflective and honest about what we bring to the classroom and use strategies that elicit the same from our students. In three brief clips I felt there was some good interaction and questions from the others, which also demonstrated the power of this strategy in conversation with colleagues, both novice and veteran. And finally, I thought the comments regarding the ‘here and now’, versus thinking of former students when preplanning lessons was supportive of this type of strategy.

What I would do more of, better, or differently…

In this sequence, I wish I had more time to develop how the strategy can be modified based on context. During one section, a participant asked about using google docs as a data collection strategy. That is a useful method for data collection, however, I wish had offered up more alternatives for data collection electronically. 

I still want to grow in this practice by…

I want to continue to demonstrate how the personal and professional reflections play an intentional and more formal way to evaluate my effectiveness as a teacher for all my students. This is a pillar of good formative evaluation and teaching. The parent involvement, which was also mentioned in the clip, could also be included. Some of the same components of this strategy could be a part of a Student-Led Conferencing experience and create a deeper and even more valuable experience for students and families.

About Tim Dove

Tim Dove currently works as a consultant for CCSSO working with the leadership of eleven states. He has had a longstanding career in teaching and l...

Find out more