Unit 2: The GRID Method

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Return to: ETAP 623 Spring 2020 (Zhang) | Course Overview | Unit 1 | Unit 3

Learning Objectives

Learners will:

  • identify the key components of the GRID method.
  • discuss the benefits and drawbacks of using the GRID unit in various grade levels.
  • explain how technology aids with learning while using the GRID method.
  • compare the GRID method to teaching strategies that are currently used in their classroom

What is the GRID method?

The GRID method is a "student centered, competency based system, created at the classroom level and designed to fit any teacher’s style, within any curriculum, in any classroom" (GRID Method). By designing a self-paced unit for students to work through, teachers become facilitators of instruction and relationship-builders. Students develop invaluable life skills along the way through realistic goal-setting, responsibility, prioritization, and leadership skills. The GRID Method is designed for student success and mastery of the learning, not just passive recipients of knowledge.

During my first year teaching, I had a coworker that found this style of teaching and we both decided to try it with our content areas. As sixth grade teachers we had two sections of content. I taught two sections of Science and my co-worker taught two sections of Social Studies. In the next unit, you will see more of our examples across those contents. Here is the first GRID that I created. Each stage has links to the assignments that students would open up. I used Google Classroom, and attached to each assignment were further instructions and links that would be necessary for completion. This document serves as a jumping point for students to gain a big-picture view into the unit.

The unique part to me about the GRID is the amount of pre-planning that goes into each unit. For me, as a first-year teacher, I had to learn the unit and design the activities for the unit, all before introducing anything to my students. If you are a more veteran teacher, you might already have some units that you have activities and lessons developed for that you can adapt and slate into your GRID.

Webb's Depth of Knowledge

Webb's Depth of Knowledge (DOK) can be utilized to develop lessons and units that place a greater emphasis on content complexity. The Bloom's Taxonomy levels are transferred to into four stages that take a look at the cognitive effort that students are putting forth. Gerald Aungst posted an article that describes how to utilize Depth of Knowledge in the classroom. Click the DOK picture on the left to go to this article. It is important to note that just because certain verbs or activities require a longer amount of time the DOK level is not always higher. To determine which level an activity would best fall under, take a look at the amount of cognitive effort that is required by students.

As it applies to the GRID, the lower levels of the GRID are designed for the lower levels of DOK. Typically, the higher up the GRID you go, the amount of stages per level decrease to account for the increase in cognitive load. Levels 4 and 5 of the GRID are best associated with level 4 of Webb's DOK and PBL with the emphasis placed on application of the new content in a discovery assignment.

Roles in the Classroom


Since students have the assignments laid out for them along with the needed resources, teachers are in a position to spend more time circulating the room. Those students that require additional time and support are able to sit in close vicinity to the teacher to get more direct instruction. Additionally, for those students that understand the content, teachers have the opportunity to extend the learning. Click the picture to watch a short video; become a F.O.L.E!!!


As the teacher circulates, students are working through the unit. Although each student starts in the same place on day 1, students can become scattered through the unit very quickly. Implementation may look different in every classroom. Since students are working independently, I require them to set a goal for their work each day. I use this goal setting sheet that comes with the GRID Method starter kit. More information about the Goal Sheet is included in Unit 3. While the learning activities are mostly independent, as students work their way through, exceptional demonstrations of learning merit "Genius Status". Those students that are "Geniuses" of a specific level, technological skill or resource are the first place for peers to go with questions. This reserves the teacher for the activities listed above.


While technology is not required for the GRID method, it does greatly aid in implementing the GRID method in the classroom.

Let's talk first about how your classroom might look if you don't have one-to-one technology, or limited access. In this case, you want to make sure that your organization is CLEARLY understood by all of your students. Many teachers use file folders that are labeled with each stage of the grid. In this case, you may also want to create an answer key to all assignments for students to self-grade. If you choose not to utilize self-grading, students could be stuck on levels until they achieve the required mastery point. It should also be noted that self-grading should be a teacher-taught skill so students know the expectation (different colored writing utensil, how to treat grading materials, etc.).

For those of you that have greater access to technology, you can still use the file system listed above. In my classroom with 1-1 Chromebooks, I kept a few paper copies of each stage for those students that preferred paper. Using your LMS (learning management system - Google Classroom, Schoology, Canvas, etc.), post your hyperdoc GRID first. This will be a central resource for students to use and navigate through as they progress in the unit. I have found and seen greatest success in making every level a new topic or folder within the LMS, then filing the individual assignments under that topic/folder. Click the picture below to go to a Slideshow with more detailed explanation.


After gaining an overview of the GRID method, you should be starting to think about the units in your classroom that could be positively transformed through this style of teaching and learning. Answer these questions to reflect on these processes in your own classroom:

  1. What benefits do you see with the GRID method?
  2. What are some areas of concern you have in your own classroom with the GRID method?
  3. What unit could be transformed through the use of the GRID method? How?
  4. How would your role as an educator change through using the GRID method?
  5. What differences would you expect to see in students with the GRID method?

Respond to these questions independently before adding your responses to the Discussion page.

Additional Resources

GRID PowerPoint

Teacher FAQs