Differentiated Instruction Groups - DIG

What is DIG?

DIG stands for Differentiated Instruction Groups, and that means that students from all grade levels are grouped together at the same time of the day, in small groups to learn with their academic peers – a small group of students learning at the same level.  DIG groups can consist of students from various grades that have similar learning styles, readiness, and interest.

DIG provides instruction based on academic readiness, rather than age.  Groups consist of 5-16 students each. The rule of thumb is that the lower the skill level, the smaller the group. The higher the skill level, the larger the group. This is because those with lower skills usually need more help to overcome challenges and those with higher skills are usually better at larger group work.

DIG at Gonzales focus on reading/ELA (English Language Arts) and math.

Why does our school have DIG?

Our prime motivation for DIG was reading, hearing, and learning that DIG has proved to increase student achievement more than any other intervention.

Every school has students that are learning at different levels at any one time, and DIG enables students to get more individualized attention, in small groups that teach to their current academic abilities.  These small groups help students achieve greater academic success in a shorter amount of time.

For example:

A third-grade class of 22 students may have the following learners:

   - 11 students learning at grade level

   - 5 students learning above grade level

   - 3 students learning below grade level

   - 3 students learning two levels below grade level

A fourth-grade class of 23 students may have the following learners:

   - 15 students learning at grade level

   - 3 students learning above grade level

   - 3 students learning below grade level

   - 2 students learning two levels below grade level

During DIG, the following students may be grouped together from both third and fourth classes:

1)      13 students learning at grade level

2)      13 students learning at grade level

3)      8 students learning above grade level

4)      6 students learning below grade level

5)   5 students learning two levels below grade level

How are DIG (groups) formed?

Each DIG is created based on the student’s academic data from short-cycle assessments – how they perform on Istation for reading and NWEA Maps for math.  Teachers also use academic data from their own class work.  They also consider the behavior of the students and group dynamics to create groups that work well together.  Click to learn more about short-cycle assessments administered to Gonzales students.

Students with similar academic data are grouped together for DIG.

When is DIG?

DIG takes place every day Monday-Thursday at 2:10pm – 2:50pm for the entire school and Fridays for seventh and eighth grades.

Who teaches DIG?

All core teachers teach DIG!  Teachers have a DIG Analysis & Planning session every six weeks in staff meeting to review students' progress, decide which skills need to be addressed and regroup students as needed.

With over 430 students at Gonzales, DIG requires as many teachers as possible to provide instruction to small groups at the same time.  It’s a huge logistical challenge that is well worth the reward.

Who should I speak with about my child’s DIG placement and progress?

It’s always recommended that you start every conversation with your child’s classroom teacher.  Your child’s classroom teacher will provide you with answers to your questions or direct you to the proper person.  If your child’s classroom teacher is not able to provide you with the information you need or you feel that your question has not been completely answered, please contact Ms. Lisa, Instructional Coach for DIG related questions and concerns.

Please remember to always schedule an appointment to speak with teachers and administrators.  This enables both staff and parents to be present (not distracted by other priorities), and prepare for the conversation.  You may find their email address on our Teachers and Staff page.   

Is DIG new at Gonzales?

DIG is not a new concept at Gonzales.  Classroom teachers have been differentiating their instruction for students since Gonzales opened in 1953, although it didn’t get identified as such until more recent years.

We have found that our current form of DIG helps better utilize the data we’re learning through short-cycle assessments. The data tells us how well a student is reading and performing math, so DIG gives us the ability to teach directly to their current ability and improve their knowledge in the most effective way.

If DIG doesn’t exist, then most students will only learn the materials being presented in their grade level, which is determined by age, rather than academic ability.  This leads to students being left behind or getting bored.

We believe that DIG keeps students learning at the best of their current ability and pushes them to the next level in the shortest amount of time.