Stretching Strategies

Intervention strategies for underachieving high attainers

A number of our underachieving KS4 students are in the high attainment band and they can often require different sorts of strategies to get them to their target grades. Following group discussions and mentoring with them, I have put together some strategies that might help them.

Suitable Stretch Tasks

They say:

  • "Teach us what the stretch tasks are"
  • "Something that is challenging but relates to the task"
  • "Something we’ll actually be able to answer"
  • "Something that isn’t just more work than the other work, it’s a more difficult task"
  • "We like to be given choice."
  • "Something that isn’t too hard but pushes us."



In the classroom:
  • Ensure that the three levels of challenge are legitimate and challenging enough through using Boom's taxonomy.
  • Model how to do the tasks, or give an example of what the outcome might be.
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Suitable tasks

They say:

  • "Set me more work that is challenging."
  • I'm underachieving because I'm not working hard enough."
  • I'm underachieving because I don't focus and concentrate."


In the classroom:

At the beginning of each task, target underachieving student(s) to ensure they are completing the scorching task.

Revision / Note making

They say:

  • "To get back on track, I need to revise lots."
  • "Teach me how to revise."
  • "We need more resources to revise with."



In the classroom:

  • Ask students to make notes summarising content. They could aim to reduce the amount of words that they use each time they make the notes, so that the content is eventually summarised down to key words. This could be set as a homework task.
  • Share explicitly with students what is needed to reach an A* in your subject and how this is achieved.
  • Lead revision sessions focusing on the topics/skills needed to reach the top grades.

Growth Mindset

Research says:

  • Focusing feedback and praise on the process of learning rather than the outcome can significantly improve academic achievement (Dweck, 2007).



In the classroom:

When giving feedback and praise, focus on effort and time spent on the task rather than attainment.

Study Club

They say

  • Some of them admitted to spending less than 20 minutes a day on homework.
  • Some of them said that they didn't do homework and it went unnoticed.


In the classroom:

If these students are not completing their homework, or it is not done to a high enough standard, they can be nominated for study club.

Model excellence

They say:

  • "It motivates me when I know what grade I'm at."
  • "It helps me if the teacher shows me how to do the task."



In the classroom:

  • Share examples of A* standard exam answers and make it explicit what makes this an A* answer. Get students to replicate this.
  • Share explicitly with students what is needed to reach an A* in your subject and how this is achieved.

Holding students to account


They say:

  • I'm underachieving because I'm not working hard enough."
  • I'm underachieving because I don't focus and concentrate."



In the classroom:

  • Speak to the student(s) at the beginning of the lesson and set them a target for the time that you want them to have started the activity by.
  • If you don't think work that the student has submitted is reflective of their ability, ask them to re-do it.

Marking

Use feedback in their books to elicit higher order thinking.
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Collaboration with other HA students

They say:

  • "Group work helps us focus and understand the topic."
Research says:

  • Accelerated learners benefit from working with other high attaining students. (Eyre)

In the classroom:

Underachieving HA students could be paired with HA students who are on track to plan work, to ensure they are working at the right level before doing it or to provide feedback for improvement before submitting work to the teacher.