Same Source, Different Tasks

English teacher Leor Holtzman has been working with one of our Learning Development Groups trying out some techniques for everyday differentiation. Here she shares her work in progress:

Same Source, Different Questions

This week I have been trialling a range of strategies in differentiation from the Learning Spy. I just thought I would share my feedback with you to either provide helpful tips or perhaps remind you of strategies that you have once used.

One strategy used was identifying a resource – e.g. extract from a novel, an image, key quote, and differentiating the questions or tasks to support the different ability/ levels of students in my class. I trialled it with year 7 and 8s in English and found it to be highly effective. Not only does it help save time in planning resources, it also helped me to really focus my questions asked to help challenge/ support particular students.

From this I created different question sheets that were colour coded in terms of the starting points of my students. The process enabled me to provide support in the form of sentence starters to help guide the students who potentially were going to struggle as well as set additional challenges for students who needed stretching.

A healthy competition was established in the class, when students understood the different colours meant more challenging questions. Students were able to challenge themselves, with some asking to try the harder sheet.

Circle Time

Another strategy that I have been exploring with Jess (PGCE student) is the notion of circle time. I have found that my year 7Y class are very challenging and needy – presenting a range immature behaviours in the lessons. On one particular lesson whilst I was struggling to be heard, I decided to get them in to ‘circle time’, to discuss the issues in the class. I found the moment they were sat in a circle facing each other, this reduced the low level disruption immediately. Since them I have rearrange my class room to include circle time around the board and use it to introduce new strategies/ concepts and review of work.

Both Jess and I have used it to identify students who may be struggling and need additional support and have found it effective to get the students to come and sit around the board with the teacher, who can then provide additional support and present the group findings on the board. Whilst leaving the other students to work independently.

It has been lovely to watch moments of engagement and enthusiasm during circle time, with what is a challenging class.

Talk for Writing 

A new strategy that I have had much success with is something that both Jess and I have researched from Pie Corbett– a bit of an English guru. The reason why I want to share this strategy is because I believe that this can be used across all subjects with all key stages.

When introducing a new concept e.g. To know what a literary hook is and be able to explain why it is used in writing.  Rather than provide the students with examples and for them to copy down in their books (which used to be the norm in my classes), I now get the students to learn these by developing a range of actions that are chosen collaboratively with the class.

For example: for lower ability – students are presented with a range of pictures that represent the definition: A literary hook is a device used to grab the readers attention at the start of a story.  (A hook, an electronic device, A hand grabbing someone,  solider standing to attention). The images are then translated in to a sequence of  actions that you come up with as a class. The progress made has been excellent. Students are able to recall key definitions though the prompt of actions that they have learnt two weeks ago. By involving the students in the process of learning, they become more involved and show a higher level of recalling details.

With my 7X english class, we took this one step further, where they became the teachers and came up with their own group actions for definitions for new key words, which they taught to each other.

If you use any of the ideas from this post, or have others you’d like to share, please leave us a comment below!

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About Stacey Partridge

Assistant Principal responsible for Teaching & Learning and CPD, Stem, Transition & primary liaison. Applied Learning Quality Nominee, CEIAG, Prince's Trust and SMSC. Wellacre Academy Flixton, Greater Manchester
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4 Responses to Same Source, Different Tasks

  1. yasmin chowdhury says:

    Leor this looks brilliant! Im definitely giving the ‘Talk for Writing’ a go. It will be interesting to see how I can introduce inferential statistics and other statistical tests using pictures! Well done anyway, your ideas sound really cool.

  2. Pingback: Differentiation for All | Making Our Best Better

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  4. Pingback: What happens in our best lessons, and how do we know? | Making Our Best Better

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