The Silver Bullet?

This term TL Team was given the task of finding or coming up with strategies for effectively differentiating for our classes. It was tough. The team have once again worked really hard in trying to create some good strategies, however, in our very first meeting of this cycle we came up against an issue.

Differentiation isn't about straws, lolly-pops, or even different coloured work sheets. We tried to find simple solutions to a complex question and, lets face it, those really work.

In its most effective (and purest) form differentiation comes down to:

  • Knowing your class really well.
  • Knowing your subject really well.
  • Making links between the above two points to help students progress.

So, the strategies below will not in themselves differentiate for you. You'll need to do the legwork they might, however, be a starting point for you to launch from.

Once again thank you so much to the TL Team for their hard work during the most stressful time of the Year (SATS and GCSEs) The next meeting will be: Tuesday 9th June.

Self Differentiation

Phase 2 - Team 1

The children have enjoyed making the decision themselves as to which level work they complete. It has also worked well in maths where they have self selected either ranges of numbers from the whiteboard or which sheet to complete. The children were able to sensibly change their level of challenge throughout the lesson. During writing lessons the children have used their rubric to self select targets for their writing - this has led to some ambitious choices which have then been reached.

Challenging the Higher Ability

Liz Cooper

The idea of this was to give higher ability students 'stretch and challenge' throughout the lesson. Students were given a challenge task to do, per table, should there be any point during the lesson where they had completed a piece of work before the rest of the class. One example I used was during a year 11 revision lesson on rivers. Each group was given three photos of a river. They had to decide on the order in which the photos would appear, and then were challenged to identify as many land forms as they could. They were then challenged to annotate the land forms with the processes responsible for creating the land forms. The next task was then to add diagrams of how these land forms were created. Worked well with more enthusiastic groups, but was less well-received with the particular high-level student it had been especially designed for! They liked the element of being in competition with the other 2 groups.

Promoting Independence

Charlotte Wright

Tried with a middle set year 8 class. If they couldn't do something during the lesson, they had to: 1) Reread the question to themselves to see if they really couldn't do it. 2) Check with a partner. 3) Check with someone else on the table 4) Write the question at back of book, to be answered next lesson if they still couldn't do it. It was effective at reducing teacher talk time and did stretch the top end. However, some of the lower attainers found it hard. Perhaps something just to use with higher attainers in the class?

Differentiation Through Display

Ben Davey

I've been using sheets in individual lessons to make sure that students are using effective language for their level.

The sheets provided a good starting point particularly for the lower ability students with more high frequency vocab. This allowed students towards the lower levels to work more quickly and reach the required standard with support.. With higher ability students I expected them to work on researching their new language from dictionaries so in this respect it wasn't as effective - instead they stayed within what I had given them leading to staid and inconsiderate responses.

In the future I would provide the basic language or terminology as starting-point language and then allow students to be independent and research any extras they might need in more creative language.

Meaningful Stretch Activities

Claire Nichols and Tiffany Tovey

We both used real world application as an extension in our lessons. We created a reusable, laminated display that we can use with each Maths topic that we teach. In the transition class, the activity of reflecting on why we were learning about fractions worked really well but it worked better as a whole class discussion to motivate all pupils than as a differentiated extension for the more able pupils. It is something that will be used in future but it seems a shame to limit it to one group of pupils.

Phase 2 - Team 1/2

The year 3 children have been challenged to use a thesaurus - they have enjoyed this challenge. Prior to writing the children have been creating an 'ambitious word bank' as a whole class to use as a prompt. The year 2s have had target words to include.which has improved their word selection.

Final things to remember...

Here are some Golden Rules that you can consider when planning.

Keep reflecting on your planning for differentiation by task. Are all students doing the same task at the same time? This way we'll be supporting students who need a little more help and those who we need to stretch to the higher thinking skills..

Some techniques to consider:

  • Different starting points
  • Varied allocated time limits
  • Tiered Scaffolding
  • Various sources of information and how students can access them
  • Independent research
  • Various forms of presenting work (eg illustrated, bullet pointed, extended writing, visual IT, audio IT etc.)

TL Team Meeting: Term 6.

Tuesday, June 9th, 3:15pm

William Jessop Way