Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 strategies for developing independent learners

mrs humanities shares

Are we doing too much for our learners? This question has plagued me a lot recently.

I’ve seen hundreds of fabulous resources that take the hard work out of learning for our students. That remove the responsibility from students to teacher. That take the independence from the learning process. That make them dependent on us, their teachers.

Now I’m sure many people will argue with me that it’s a result of increased scrutiny; the unrealistic performance management targets; the use of target grades etc. Which are all completely valid arguments and I agree, but it still scares me that so many teachers are doing so much for their students. Things that take away their students responsibility and independence in the learning process.

Things like case study guides with all of the content students need, completed knowledge organisers, again with all of the content students need. Completed exam questions, so students can learn to replicate. Revision booklets again with all of the content. It all worries me.

I’ve never hidden the fact that I facilitate learning, that my aim as a teacher is to make my students as independent as possible in my classroom and in their learning. That I want my students to leave school being able to learn for themselves; to be able to critically analyse and evaluate; to design and create; to research effectively; to be responsible for their own learning; to want to continue learning after compulsory education.

I’ve created numerous posts on developing independent learners such as these

Developing Independent Learners – Help Yourself Display and Resource Station

Developing Independent Learners – Seating Plans

Developing Independent Learners – Attempts at Flipped Learning

Developing Independent Learners

Developing Independent Learners – Independent Learning Projects

Developing Independence in the Humanities Classroom

Although my practices have evolved and changed over the last 4-5 years, developing independent learners is still at the core of my teaching.

Some ways I approach ‘developing independence’ are as follows

1 // ‘Help Yourself’ stations

I’m a big believer that students should learn to take responsibility for their progress and learning. That we should facilitate them in any way we can to help and support them but at the end of the day, we don’t sit their exams. That’s down to them.

Here’s some further reading from Tom Rogers if you’re interested

Anyway, whilst I do differentiate for students individual needs I also believe that students need to be able to identify when they need support and should develop the ability to be able to work out for themselves what that support looks like.

Therefore in my classrooms for the last 4 years, there have been a ‘help yourself’ areas or stations. This is an area where students can find resources that can support them in a variety of ways. For instance students can find sentence starter mats to help get them started with a variety of extended writing tasks, topic platemats/knowledge organisers that provide the key content of topics (see below for more details), blank maps, atlases, peer and self assessment sheets, note taking templates, timeline sheets and the list goes on. All of which students can help themselves to in order to help them with the tasks they are undertaking.

Initially I will direct students to particular support and overtime encourage them to help themselves to the resource they feel appropriate. Usually as students start to recognise their areas of ‘weakness’ they can independently select the appropriate support strategy.

Read more on ‘Help Yourself’ stations in my original post here.

2 // Project Breakdown

I start year 7 with a homework project that is broken up into smaller chunks, each with their own deadline. We cover map and atlas skills to ensure all students embark on the rest of their geographical learning with the basic skills required.

Student’s therefore complete a project as homework over the course of the first term on a European country of their choice. Each chunk of the project fits with the work covered in class allowing the students to demonstrate the skills and knowledge they developed in the lesson.

The breaking down of the project into chunks develops students time management skills and teaches them to break down a project over time to ensure they do not complete other projects just before the deadline.

Over time these breakdowns are removed so students can independently carry out projects without the haste of

3 // Blank or Basic Knowledge Organisers (AKA Placemats, Knowledge Mats etc.)

I’ve seen knowledge organisers with the entire topic on one sheet. All the content a student needs to know. It makes me question why the student needs to listen, to participate in the lesson, to do the tasks set by their teacher. If they have everything they need to know in front of them, surely it encourages students to ‘switch off’. Some may argue that students have KOs in order to then apply the knowledge, but I fear this reduces their ability to retrieve information.

I prefer to use KOs or placemats as they were originally intruduced to me to provide a basic outline of the content students generally struggle with.

For Geography for instance I often find students confuse the 3 tectonic plate boundaries and find it hard to visualise convection currents.

placemat.png

In History it tended to be the sequence of events, names and places.

placemat History.png

Therefore I created a basic visual summary for my students to collect if they so desired. These mats would consist again of the very basics to support my learners.

I also encourage students to create their own KOs at KS5 and hope to implement this into KS4 in due course. In order for my KS5 students to do this I’ve created KO sheets with blank boxes, except for a question or statement in which they respond to in order to collate the knowledge they need to demonstrate thus retrieving and revising the content for use later on.

KO ks5

KO ks5 2

4 // Revision

I refuse to give students the content they need to know in the form of a booklet or similar in order to revise from. Sorry, but they should get that from lessons, why else bother going to lessons if it’s not to learn the content?!

Instead for I provide a variety of resources to support my students.

To start with for each topic students receive an AfL grids with an outline of the topic content. At the start of the topic students self-assess their prior knowledge and then at the end their understanding of the topic in order to highlight the areas for future revision.

Then in regards to revision of the content I’ve created how to revise guides to help students to develop an ongoing approach to revision as well as teaching retrieval strategies and exam technique in class.

In addition I’ve created case study templates for students to complete to summarise the case studies and examples explored. To support revision these have been combined into a case study and exam question booklet so students can also apply the content to exam style questions.

gcse revision

All these strategies require my students to do the work and be responsible for their own learning and progress. I’ve provided the resources, taught the content and given them the support they need to succeed but it’s up to them to actually learn what they need to know for the exam.

5 // Inquiry/Enquiry based learning

At my school we have a real ethos for developing inquirers. I love that we do loads of inquiry based learning across the school. Students get to question, research and develop their curiosity throughout.

In KS3, at the start of each unit, my students write down questions. These questions influence my planning, the resources I use and the lesson objectives over the course of the topic. Students are the driving force of the lesson content. I teach the same year group the same topic to reach the same outcomes but the approach varies dependent on the class questions.

Now that I’m settled in my ‘new’ school for a full year, I’ve seen the progression students make through this approach. Enquiry truly develops their curiosity and interest; they constantly challenge me to further my subject knowledge and keep it up to date as their questions get us exploring aspects I’ve missed in the past or thought not relevant when planning schemes of work.

Through their questioning comes exploration, analysis and evaluation; deepening their understanding and I love it.

How do you develop independence in your learners? Feel free to leave a comment or get in touch.

Mrs Humanities


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Resource – Differentiation Strategies CPD

differentationDifferentiation. I’ve only recently began to recognise how misconstrued my understanding of differentiation was in my first few years of teaching.

I guess my original understanding was that it meant providing different work for students based on their needs and abilities. At times, as a result I would find myself planning lessons in such a way that I’d essentially be teaching multiple lessons in the same lesson in order to cater for the ‘All, Most, Some’ learning objectives my first school required. No wonder I found it such hard work. Then when I started teaching mixed ability groups, it got even worse but I got really good at differentiation by task. However that’s not how differentiation works I’ve come to realise. There’s far more to it than that.

In my formative years of teaching, I went by the rule ‘differentiation by outcome is not acceptable’, I can’t remember if it was my first school that had this rule or whether I’d learnt it on my PGCE course. Either way, actually it is okay, especially now that in Geography and History at GCSE all students undertake the same questions, there is no differentiation between those doing higher tier and foundation. They all do the same, yet their outcomes will be different!!!! It’s now all about scaffolding students to achieve.

But differentiation goes beyond that.

When I was training to teacher I learnt that differentiation was ‘the process by which differences between learners are accommodated so that all students in a group have the best possible chance of learning’ as described by the Training and Development Agency for Schools and that differentiation could be by task, support and outcome.

  • differentiation by task involved setting different tasks for students of different abilities
  • differentiation by support meant giving more help to certain students
  • differentiation by outcome meant setting everyone the same task and allowing student response at different levels

But I’ve learnt that differentiation is far more than this, it’s a teacher’s response to learner’s needs and therefore can be planned or unplanned, long term or short term, explicit or subtle.

It is impossible to differentiate for every student and every need all of the time but being able to adapt and respond in the moment is just as important as planning support in advance.

In fact you may differentiate in any number of ways

– Task
– Instruction
– Resources
– Process
– Outcome
– Seating plan
– Groups
– Feedback
– Subject Content
– Questioning
– Assessment
– Dialogue
– Environment
– Rules and Routines
– Interests
– Approaches to learning
– Pastoral Support

As I put together resources for a CPD session this week, it go me thinking.
– Is it possible to evidence all of this?
– Should we be asked to provide evidence of differentiation in books?
– How is differentiation observed and recognised in lesson observations?
– Is differentiation often to focused on being able to see it through different tasks/support materials?

In particular I started thinking about the fact that if all students sit the same exam at GCSE the key focus should be on scaffolding to succeed rather than capping students with different tasks that suit their ‘ability’.

If I’m honest I would say my differentiation technique now which has been developed over the last 5 years is to teach to the top and differentiate down through scaffolding to support all students to achieve the highest possible grade/level/mark.

Anyway I’m starting to digress. I’m sure your here for the resources.

The CPD session gave an introduction to differentiation for NQTs and ITT students with practical ideas to take away.

 

Now if you’d like a copy of the PowerPoint click here. 

I hope you find the resource of use.

Feel free to share your thoughts on differentiation.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Differentiation Strategies for SpLD

mrs humanities shares

Now I’m no expert in SEN or SpLD for that matter, but these are 5 strategies that I have found that work for my students over the past 5 years. These strategies have come from research or CPD I have undertaken.

1 // Pastel Colours for Powerpoints
Since I can remember I’ve been using pastel colours for PowerPoints and other digital documents. I read somewhere during my NQT year that pastel colours are preferable for students with dyslexia but are also beneficial for all students as white backgrounds can cause eye strain. Ever since then I’ve been using pastel colours for displaying information on the whiteboard. Yellow for task instructions, blue for information and green for assessment for learning. In addition the background is a light grey to reduce glare and sensitivity to bright lights.

Further reading on role and value of colour 

2 // Structure Scaffolds
To support students to develop their extended writing I’ve used a variety of scaffolding strategies over the years in order to enable students to break down the task and focus on demonstrating their knowledge as opposed to structure (initially). Some approaches include sentence_starters_mat, structure sheets/strips and tasks broken down into sections which come together as one piece in the end.

atstructure stips differentiatedtask break down

3 // Note Taking Supports
Students with dyslexia regularly struggle to take notes, the challenge of listening and writing at the same time is clear. In order to develop note taking skills, I’ve provided what many people these days call ‘Knowledge Organisers’ as a reference point and note taking supports to support laying out and recording information.

independent learners topic placematsindependent learners note taking

4 // Differentiated feedback
This really applies to all students, however there are things I focus more or less on with students with SpLD than others. For instance focusing on subject knowledge as opposed to spelling, punctuation and grammar, making students respond to questions as opposed to making improvements to a previous piece of work and editing as opposed to full re-writes.

5 // Words to use in a lesson
Really simple but effective way to develop subject specific terminology in SpLD students and their practice of spelling such terms has been the list of key terms to use during lessons. These appear as a list at the bottom of PowerPoint slides and students are given the key word list at the start of the topic. They’ve then been able to highlight the words for the lesson that they need to focus on using. These are the only spellings I have focused my attention on in the marking of their work and these are the only spellings I have had them correct. I found this worked particularly well with boys, particularly one higher ability boy in year 8 that particularly worried about the structure of his written work and SpAG, he’d focus too much on these rather than showing his understanding in written work. When we started to focus on the spelling of key terminology instead he wrote more about what he knew and understood. independent learners key word lists

I hope this post is of some use to you.

Share your approaches in the comments.

Mrs Humanities


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Guest Post from @Jennnnnn_x – Stretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

guest postStretch & Challenge. A few ideas….

How can we ensure all students are challenged every lesson? Here are a few ideas I have used to encourage challenge in my Geography lessons recently.

What can you find out?

“Learning happens when people have to think hard” Prof. Robert Coe – Durham University. How often do we make students think hard – looking back I know that I don’t do it as often as I probably should…

So here is one idea I have used at the start of my lessons:

This example was for a Year 10 introductory lesson to Urban Issues.

1.png

I left my students with this image on the board/a copy each and then left them to think for 15 minutes (which felt like eternity) I then gave them some discussion time. Amazingly they came up with most of the ideas off the specification – they annotated their image to show their thoughts and added to them through discussion. I repeated this with my year 9’s and while there was more moaning, once they realised I wouldn’t help them they tried a bit harder and I had similar outcomes – they had summarised our whole topic in about 25 words and from one photograph.  Have a go – you might be surprised what they come up with!

Hexagons

An old one, but a good one. I remember seeing hexagons everywhere a few years ago but I had forgotten about them until I came across an old example when tidying my classroom. So I started using them again and I remembered why I like them so much! There is no right answer – which means there is lots of room for discussion and often the students come up with links that you might not have thought of.

I used this idea to support an exam question in a year 13 lesson looking at LDC countries. I put images onto the hexagons and the students cut them out, stuck them next to others and then annotated the links between them. They then used this to plan their essay. It worked well due to two reasons – it supported lower ability students as the photographs helped as a prompt to start different sections but it also challenged the higher ability students because the ‘link’ is usually where this class fall down – they forget to link their ideas to both the question but also other topics.

Here is an example:

2.png

IDEAL analysis

Command words – are the one thing every time I mark mock exams I wish my students understood. Despite doing a range of activities linked to command words and having them stuck around my room and on the table in front of them, I till find students explain when the question asks them to describe and vice-versa.

With the new examination changes and the increasing level of literacy needed to interpret some of the questions the focus on command words is more important than ever!

I went to a PIXL conference back in November and saw Rebecca Chew (@MissChewBeka) present her ideas on stretch and challenge… I have used every single one of them in various lessons since but my favourite is most definitely the IDEAL analysis.

It is based around a need for students to understand the different command words, but also that as we move through the word IDEAL the difficulty increases.

3.png

I – identify – what is it that you can you see?
D – describe – what does it look like, where are different objects/landforms?
E – explain – why is it like that, what are the reasons for what you can see?
A – apply – where else might this happen, how might it be similar/different?
L – link – how does this link to wider geography, other topics, other places?

Students seem to like it and more importantly find it useful. I recently marked a year 10 mock which asked students to use a figure (a photograph of the devastation caused by an earthquake) to support their answer and saw many of them plan their answer using IDEAL.

Below is also an example of a differentiated worksheet given to support some of the students in my class.

45

There are some more examples on my twitter if you want to take a look (@jennnnnn_x)

Hope some of these ideas are useful,

Jen (@jennnnnn_x)


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Guest post from @ploguey – Differentiation ideas that work every time

guest post

I’m really excited to share with you the second in the series of guest posts on the site. I love how everyday differentiation has continued to change and develop since I wrote my last post on it some years ago.

If you have an idea or something to share, get in touch.

Hope you enjoy this one from Paul, @ploguey.

differentiation

It’s a feeling we all have very often. Your class is exiting the classroom door and you have that sinking feeling, and the thoughts begin to cross your mind:

  • I didn’t do enough differentiation in that lesson.
  • I didn’t do any differentiation in that lesson.
  • Students could have made more progress.
  • I was sure that they all would have got that done with no problems.

Scenarios like these really stress me out. It also means that I tend to try and overcompensate the next time I see that class, forcing hours of extra planning upon myself. Once, for a lesson observation, I differentiated for every single student in the class. Yes, you read that right. The lesson was a huge success; however, the main piece of feedback was that I need to focus on improving my work-life balance.

The best aspect of EduTwitter is the virtually unlimited access to teaching and learning styles from teachers all over the world and from other subjects. It’s been my absolute joy to try and test out strategies and make them work for my classes.

These are my favourite methods to use, as they are easy to plan, not time consuming, students enjoy using them and they are designed to support students to produce high-quality work. I have shared these ideas at our differentiation CPD recently.

Read, Edit, Improve

An idea I magpied from @JamieClarke85. This method is designed to support students in answering exam questions and builds upon the WABOLL method (What a Bad One Looks Like). Students are given a poor question response and annotate the mistakes and problems with the response. They then feedback and offer ways to improve the answer in the ‘edit’ section. Finally, they improve the exam question. It’s been highly successful in assisting lower ability students.  It’s one of my favourite methods because students end up practicing exam skills and doing exam questions without even realising it!read edit improve

@jennnnnn_x and @geographyhanna have done wonderful adaptions of this.

read edit improve 1read edit improve 2

Structure Strips

One of my newest methods and I love it how easy it is for students. We are following the new AQA 9-1 Spec and 9-mark questions are very tricky for students to manage.structure-strips.jpg

The structure strip breaks down the question into manageable paragraphs and supports students with the knowledge and skills necessary needed to be successful. Again, it’s been great in supporting my lower ability students in Year 10, but it’s also allowing my higher ability students to reach the top end of expected responses while they adapt to the new accepted writing style. Over time, I tend to take away the targeted questioning for the higher ability students to ensure they are being challenge.

Originally inspired from @_Jopayne and @MrsSpalding.

 

IDEAL analysis

My students love this one, particularly my Year 11s. A simple restructuring of a stimulus question by focusing on the five main geographical skills of interpretation: Identify, Describe, Explain, Analyse and Link. This allows students to build up their answers through probing.  I’ve seen Year 11 students writing this on their mock papers and using it to answers 6- and 8-mark questions.

IDEAL Analysis 1ideal-analysis-2.png

Chilli Challenges

Inspired from the easily recognised Nando’s menu, it offers students a choice of task that suits their understanding and ability. I have found that the ‘Red Hot’ challenge is by far the most popular one, so careful consideration is needed to be given to ensure that students are not pushing themselves too far and struggle as a result. Adaptions included differentiating by target grade, flight path etc.

Chilli Challenges

Thanks for reading.

Paul (@ploguey)


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Resource – ACE questioning display posters

A few months a go I shared a strategy I’ve been using for a while called ACE questioning 

ACE questioning differentiation

It’s working exceptionally well in my new school, however we have two week timetables and therefore some classes I only see every other week. To help students remember, I’ve created these simple posters as a reminder.

ACE questions.png

I’m going to be placing them in some old frames I have from Ikea and will hang next to my board.

Feel free to download the word or PDF versions and adjust to suit your needs.

Enjoy!

Mrs Humanities

 


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ACE Questioning

Looking for a way to differentiate and challenge without any significant need for resources?

Try out ACE questioning. A simple idea which can  have big results.

I use it several ways dependent on the class and learners ability range.

Basic concept

A = accept
C = challenge
E = extend

image

Approach 1

The teacher asks a student if they would like to accept, challenge or extend the answer of another student. The student decides and does one of the above, ensuring that if they accept they explain why.

Approach 2

The teacher asks selected students certain questions related to A, C or E.

e.g. do you accept what child A said, why/why not?

Approach 3

During peer assessment students state whether they accept the work as it is and explain why, challenge the answers given by asking them a question such as why do you think… or I actually think this… can you explain why   you’re right? Or they ask a question to extend the answer given.

Try it out and let me know how it goes.


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Getting GCSE ready

Personally I believe and teach in a way that key stage 3 is simply setting the foundations for key stage 4. You could essentially say I’ve planned a 5 year scheme of learning, where students revisit knowledge and skills via a variety of topics, believe it’s linked to spiraling (I’ve not researched it but someone mentioned it recently).

After looking at recent assessments and discussions with students I’ve completely scrapped the scheme of work I had in place for year 9 for term 5 and 6. Instead I’ve set about creating a scheme of work that gap fills to ensure all of my year 9’s are prepared for the next stage of their learning.

The scheme of work will revisit a lot of what we’ve covered in year 7 and 8 as well as what we’ve covered in year 9 so far.

Students will be issued with a learning ladder that clearly outlines what they need to be able to do for the different bands; Bronze, Silver and Gold. Students will have to demonstrate their understanding and mastery of the bronze before moving onto silver and/or gold.

Students will be guided as to which band they are aiming to master based upon targets, however as always I will encourage them all to aim for gold.

The learning ladder will look something like this….

learning ladder

The ladder starts with essential map and atlas skills which takes in some aspects of physical geography followed by essential human geography linked to skills such as description and explanation. The final part of the learning ladder focuses on the recall of key terminology; this section has been based upon my gap analysis of the work undertaken over time and is essentially the areas where misconceptions have arisen, challenges have been faced or just general forgetfulness has taken place over time.

I want to ensure that their prior learning is recapped and embedded before the summer holidays (and the 6-week brain drain takes place) to make it that little bit easier in September when they start the GCSE course.

It gives me the opportunity to fill any gaps in student knowledge, particularly as a number of new students have joined throughout the year and allows me to ensure students have a secure understanding of what I believe are the foundations needed for GCSE Geography.

My plan is to make it as independent as possible with the resources available for students to work through at their own pace, completing and revisiting as they feel fit.

I’d like to put all the resources such as helpful PowerPoints onto a website for students to access in class and at home but not entirely sure where to start seeing as WordPress is blocked on the school network. So any recommendations are greatly welcomed.

So there it is, my little gap filling idea.

Now onto the lesson planning….

If you do anything similar I’d love to hear about it.

 

 


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Developing Independent Learners – Help Yourself Display and Resource Station

DIRThelp yourself resource stationThis year I’m striving to make my learners more independent. Last year many were making excellent efforts and this year I want to push this even further.

I’ll be doing this in 3 ways

  1. Tabletop resources
  2. A ‘Help Yourself’ resource station
  3. Personal Interest Projects

In this post I’m going to share my ‘Help Yourself’ resource station.

The idea behind it is that learners use the resources to help themselves to learn and progress.

I’ve created two areas, one for key stage 4 and the other for key stage 3.

The first, the KS4 area, consists of a noticeboard for GCSE Geography students.

This board contains past papers, exam questions and information sheets for Unit 1 and Unit 2 of the course for learners to access freely. Then there are topic specific help sheets for the current area of study in the ‘Current Topic’ resource holder. Learners have already been directed to these when they were unsure of how to draw the diagrams to demonstrate river erosion processes and will be encouraged to continue to do so.

I’m slowly training them that this is where they go in the first instance if they need help, they then ask another student and if they are still unsure they can ask me; 2 lessons in and so far this seems to be working effectively. Hope it continues.

The display also includes a notice board for important announcements so that they’ve no excuse to forget important information such as exam dates or deadlines; an outline of what should be covered from their work booklets each lesson from now until their GCSE exams as well as a sheet that outlines all the places they can get help if they find themselves stuck. GCSE display

My final addition to the board is a progress to target reward board. Next week I will ask each student to give themselves a personal target grade influenced by their end of year target, each time they achieve that grade in an assessment or exam question they can date the reward chart. After 3 successes they receive a reward, each reward is of greater value than the last. It’s a male heavy GCSE class so I hope a little competition might be of encouragement to them. GCSE reward

The second, the KS3 area, consists of a resource station. In the resource station there are a variety of resources to support my learners. This includes key word sheets, literacy mats, topic mats, reference books, sentence starters, scaffolding support sheets, DIRT and Curriculum Link sheets as well as textbooks for student reference.

I’ve made a variety of resources over the last 3 years which end up stuffed in a cupboard, folder or filing cabinet after a couple of uses, despite all of them being designed  to support learners. The resource station gives learners access to these support devices when they need them.

help yourself resource station

I just need to add labels to each shelf to identify and to give a brief description of the resources available so learner’s can make decisions on which one’s would be of use to them.

Once complete I will share the resources that make up my resource station.

How do you encourage independence?

Mrs Humanities


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Differentiation 

This week during a discussion, I was referred to as the “Queen of Differentiation”. In response I replied “well it beats the PMT Queen as l was formerly named’. AWKWARD.

However it got me thinking about differentiation and how I embed the practice into each and every lesson. These days it is something I just DO, I reflect on it and improve it but I find it hard to explain it and since a NQT might join me come September I thought I ought to start considering how I share the concept and ideas.

Throughout the last 3 years of teaching I’ve developed a wide range of strategies which include task based, support based and outcome based differentiation. However throughout my training and NQT year it was always reiterated that differentiation by outcome was not acceptable and that we should always differentiate by task. But how true is that?

Since passing my induction I’ve started to realise that their is a lot more to differentiation than you are taught in the first few years of teaching. It might not always be one of the 3 approaches named above.

Sometimes it can take the form of changing the language you use with certain pupils, for instance I might use 3 different words to give the same meaning to 3 individual students of different abilities. The questions you ask may vary, they still provide the same outcome but the way it is worded changes. The pace of a lesson may vary between classes, groups and individuals. All of these could be seen in my lessons along side task, support and outcome based differentiation.

I thought I’d outline here some of my favourite ways to differentiate to give inspiration.

1 //  My favourite method has to be differentiation through choice. There are two ways in which I approach this, sometimes it is levelled based task other times is it linked to their preferred learning styles.

Levelled Based Choice

I will set up a range of tasks that develop the skills, knowledge and understanding for a particular level. I usually set 3 tasks per class. Those with the lower level range select from the first two options whilst those within the higher level range select from the second and third options meaning they either complete work that enables them to reach or exceed their targets.

A recent example was in an observed lesson with a year 7 class. You can see below that I set up 3 tasks and the students had to choose the level of spice they would attempt.

1 chilli = a level 3 task with a level up task to take them into level 4
2 chillies =  level 3a & 4c tasks with a level up task to take them into a confident level 4
3 chillies = level 4a and 5c tasks with a level up task to ensure they achieved a confident level 5

differentiation choice task

Learning Styles

On occasions I will give the class a range of options for the format in which they present their work such as through a presentation, a leaflet, a poster, an extended piece of writing, a model or story board to name a few.

For instance last term year 7 completed projects on a variety of natural hazards as part of our Dangerous World topic. Firstly pupils were put into ‘levelled’ groups, for instance those with a higher target grade were grouped together and given a hazard that would create more challenge in researching, understanding and explaining.

The groups were then given the levelled criteria and suitable guidance for their ability. They then set about creating their projects for presentation in which ever format they choose from the selection of ‘previews’.

Learning styles became very clear through the activity, those with a kinaesthetic preference made models that demonstrated their knowledge of the hazards, whilst the more visual learns seemed to create projects with lots of text and pictures. There were clear differences within groups as well, for instance one group half of them created a model of a volcano whilst the other half created a large poster for display with images and text.

2 // Questioning

Now this one is hard to evidence when you are questioning the class unless you prepare your questions and who they will be aimed at in advance, which was actually something I was made to do during my PGCE. Although annoying at the time, it  was useful to get me thinking about students abilities, targets and progress.

Nowadays I ask a question before I say any names, I then quickly consider who that question would be suitable for whilst also providing the whole class with thinking time. Then I pounce on the unsuspecting victim and wait for the response.If appropriate I’ll then try to get a higher level student to extend, correct or develop the answer or ask a lower ability student whether they agree or not and why before moving on.

3 // Third and final idea for today is by resource/task.

This is the most time consuming if I’m honest. In a single lesson I can be known to have created 3 levelled tasks then further differentiated them through the support given as well as the resources they are provided with. I may go OTT sometimes. I try not to do that to often however it doesn’t always work out.

Anyway differentiation by resource can take many forms.

For instance in one year 8 lesson, I wanted a number of pupils to achieve the same level of outcome but through different approaches that were suitable to their needs and learning styles.

The level 4 aim was to describe adventures in more than one location. In order to do this a few students were locating places on a map with different adventure possibilities and describing the potential adventures to be had whilst another group were given two adventurer profiles and using a Role on the Wall sheet they had to decide on a location for each and describe they type of adventure to be had there. They both achieved the level 4 objective just in didn’t ways.

Another example would be with my GCSE group when defining key words, a small group receive a number of choices to choose from whilst others have to write their own definition.

Another examples is from a recent observation lesson I gave level 3 and 4 students a very basic colour shading map of population density whilst the level 5 students were given a choropleth map to interpret (not that the observer noticed the different).

There are loads of other useful ideas floating around the internet such as these differentiation cards or this differentiation deviser many ideas for both the newbie and the veteran teacher.

Mrs Humanities