Mrs Humanities

Because I'm married to the job


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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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Developing a Feedback NOT Marking ‘Policy’

This summer I was tasked with the job of editing and improving the Department Handbook I had inherited. One of my key focuses was going to be on creating consistency in marking and feedback within the department.

In order to this I looked at what we already had in place and how we could become collectively more efficient whilst maintaining high quality assessment and feedback for our students.

Using the work I’d done at my former school in researching and putting into practice assessment and feedback strategies, I looked at what we were already doing individually and as a department and took it from there.

First things first we had the job of deciding what should be marked. In a department meeting we identified pieces of work that would be assessed, marked and feedforward could take place on. Assessment pieces were the first to be included, we tend not to assess by test due to our approach to the Middle Years Programme and instead our students produce pieces of work that will be assessed according to specific MYP criteria. Next we decided on one or two pieces of class work and/or homework per topic that would demonstrate student progress in particular skills or MYP criteria.

Below is an example for September to December for one year group. You can see we decided on particular skills and/or MYP criteria to assess and the work that would be associated with that.

assessed work

Our second job was to decide what type of assessment would take place and by whom; would it be assessed by the teacher, peers or by either.

types of assessment

In inadvertently we came up with a few guidance rules

  • If the task was to be assessed for the Humanities faculty then this would be assessed by the teacher only, however ACE or SpACE peer assessment could be carried out throughout the process to help students to make improvements before submitting their final piece.
  • After feedback of any kind, the teacher would assess the piece of work that has undergone Feedback-Feedforward.
  • If there were quantitative or definitive answers e.g. grid references, country names, numbers etc. then it could be peer or teacher assessed so long as mark scheme was provided.
  • Any work could be peer assessed part way through the task, providing time was given for students to continue and make suggested improvements before submission. Also know as time to Stop. Peer Assess. Progress. in my classroom.

Each piece of assessed work was then colour coded to identify who should be marking it.

types of assessment

type of assessment

Thirdly I looked at the best practice taking place in the department and my own research into marking and feedback strategies to create a departmental toolkit to reduce workload and to develop effective Feedback-Feedfoward cycles.

In the end it ended up looking something like this…

page 1 and 2page 3 and 4page 5 and 6

And frequency of marking? Well… “There is no strict rule on how frequently our student books should be marked and assessed.”

The only rule we have is… “Students must receive feedback in some form on a regular basis – this can be through verbal or written feedback, whole class or individual”.

 

If you’re looking for ideas for marking and feedback, there are plenty more on my site. Here are a few to get you started

If you’d like a copy of the departmental feedback and marking document to give you a starting point with your own department, please feel free to get in contact.

Hope the post is of use.

Mrs Humanities

 

 

 


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 Whole Class Feedback Examples

mrs humanities shares

The time was September 2016, I shared a version of a Marking Crib Sheet from @MrThorntonTeach at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016 and since then I’ve been seeing whole class feedback every where. It even forms part of my Marking and Feedback Toolkit.

Now I’d say it’s nothing new, teachers and educators from across the world have been doing it for years. Marking work, then telling students what they could have done to make it better, where they went wrong, what misconceptions came up etc.etc. it just didn’t have an ‘official’ name. I remember RAG rating students work on a separate piece of paper during my NQT year, I’d have 3 columns and i’d write their initials under the relevant column so I knew who I needed to invest time in during the next lesson or would need to check their books at the end of the lesson to see how they’d done. Nowadays people are using crib sheets, whole class feedback, book look records or whatever other name they been given to record and SHARE such information with students.

Here are some examples I’ve seen that maybe of inspiration to you.

1 //  Mr Thornton Teach

The original example I first shared at Pedagoo Hampshire 2016. When I told people how book looks had cut down my marking time and gave me more of a work/life balance it was like a revelation for many. Pleased to see Greg’s post has gone far and wide influencing educators across the country.

2 // @TGEngTandL

I really liked how this example had an exemplar of good practice included along side the feedback to help students to develop their own work. A useful ad developmental strategy.

3 // @Greg_Parekh 

This one I feel is good for younger students or when you are first developing the strategy with students in the sense that it directs students towards the comments and questions that apply to them; Scaffolding them in the initial stages of identifying relevant feedback and how they can improve. I’ve done this through simple codes in their books before which relate to the next steps comment on the sheet. Once students become better at identifying what is relevant to them, I take the codes or direction way.

4 // @matthewmoor3 

This example works alongside a marking code system and has been used to mark an assessed piece of work. Matthew used the codes on the assessed work to identify to students what they needed to do to improve in order to provide students with precise targets whilst the ‘warm, hot and super scorching’ tasks give students choice in how to act on feedback.

5 // @ScienceLP

The simple and effective style. Easy for everyday use to check progress and understanding before using to plan subsequent lessons. Easy.

Now the key point to remember with whole class feedback is that the aim is too reduce the time spent marking but ensuring that students receive high quality feedback that enables them to progress. Scaffolding the technique is important at first but once students are confident it can be taken that away so that you encourage students to reflect and determine their own improvement actions. Again takes some support and scaffolding but eventually students can master it becoming drivers of their own progress (oh but then it’s the end of the year and the training starts all over again in September).

In addition to the provision of feedback, these sheets provide an excellent basis for planning. Sometimes I just use the book look sheets to formatively assess a class, so I know where to go next lesson. Often misconceptions influence my starter and RAG rating student understanding helps to identify where the direct support, where to scaffold or differentiate.

Hope these have inspired you to give #WholeClassFeedback a try.

Mrs Humanities


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Mrs Humanities shares… 5 wellbeing strategies

mrs humanities shares

Wellbeing is being flung around from here to there these days…. and about time to be honest. However, my concern is that too often schools are merely paying lip service to staff wellbeing and not embedding it into the ethos and foundations of the school.

Here are 5 things I feel help to embed staff wellbeing…

1// Thank yous.
It doesn’t take much to sincerely say thank you. It doesn’t need to be a public affair (in fact it’s the little thank yous that I always find have the most impact), but it does have to be meaningful and sincere. A note card or post it note with those little words can make all the difference to somebodies day, being recognised for the hardwork and commitment they make to the school and the lives of their students. It doesn’t take much to show a sincere thanks.

2// Acts of kindness from Senior Leadership
Every now and then surprise staff with an act of kindness; leave surprise cakes or fruit in the staff room, take cups of tea to Middle Leadership meetings, provide snacks for twilight meetings. Anything that’s not forced and is supplementary to anything that insists participation by all staff like whole-staff wellbeing days… get rid of them. They’d rather have the time to do work so they can enjoy the weekend with family and friends.

3// Shout out boards
A little something I really like to see in schools is a shout out board, where staff can share the great things they’ve seen going on in the school. I’ve seen shout out boards have a range of focusses such as

  • T&L focused – ideas seen, magpied strategies, inspiration from further afield etc.
  • Wellbeing focussed – motivational quotes, thank you messages etc.

or just a mix of this and that worth shouting about. Personally I think making it anonymous makes it even more rewarding but that’s just my opinion.

4// Leaving early
Encouraging all staff to leave early at least once a week, but it mustn’t be made compulsory. Just that SLT should lead by example and shout about making sure one day a week you leave earlier than you do on other days, just half an hour can make a big difference. That could be half an hour for making a cake, spending time with your kids or other family members, going to an exercise class maybe even just half an hour more of reading. As long as that gained time is spent on you, just once a week.

5// School social activities
What about activities in school for staff, run by staff. Maybe an after school exercise class, termly quiz night, a morning yoga sessions, morning meditation? Although not all staff want to socialise with their colleagues, I think it’s nice to have the opportunity. When I started at my current school last September, I was thrilled to find they did several exercise classes after school. It meant I quickly got to know people and was made to feel welcomed and comfortable. The sessions were free, run for by staff for staff and we all donated money to a cause close to the heart of the teacher running it. As soon as my wedding is out of the way, I’ll be back to them this year.

What does your school do to embed and promote staff wellbeing?

Share your thoughts and ideas.

And don’t forget to check out Teacher5aday and Teacher5adayBuddyBox for more inspiration.

Mrs Humanities