Month: August 2012

Differentiation: What it IS and what it IS NOT

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Do you shrivel at the thought of having to prepare lots of ‘special’ resources for students who have differing learning needs?  Before you spend long hours preparing all-singing-and-dancing lesson plans, it’s important that you know how simple it can be to differentiate.  Here’s a list to use as guidance:

 

Differentiation IS:

Using a range of tasks to present the topic
Increasing pace and variety to lessons
Making changes – building blocks of knowledge – from small to large
Providing opportunities for students to respond in ways other than writing: displaying work or role play (for example)
Assessing work in a number of ways
Using flexible groupings
Delivering the curriculum by using a variety of teaching practices

 

Differentiation IS NOT:

Lunchtime sessions
After school/college clubs
Letting students leave early if they have finished
Self-supported study
Extra/additional tasks
Entering external competitions

 

I guarantee that you're going to LOVE this link, which helps you to create your differentiated lesson plans and scheme of work, just click through to The Differentiator...

Questioning in class: You ask, but do they answer?

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Effective Questioning

Much is said about the benefits of good questioning techniques in class.   Sometimes it can be tricky to instantly convert questions to become more effective (ie a more open/higher category).  But it's important to be able to use questioning for a variety of purposes throughout the lesson – to check prior knowledge; check understanding; to differentiate between stronger and weaker learners; to follow up on what a learner has said; to feed back from group activities; to test knowledge.

It is widely acknowledged that questioning to assess learning is underdeveloped in some observed lessons.  We know we need to do it, but how can we avoid emotive and leading questions?  And how can we ensure that everyone participates?

Here are a few answers to those questions:

  • make questioning into an activity to be enjoyed, not tolerated
  • have a list of prepared questions before you go into class
  • don't stick to individual questioning, use groups for...

Setting Your Classroom Boundaries

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In your classroom, how do you get your students to ABIDE BY THE RULES?  It's no secret that the beginning of the year is a critical and necessary time to put in place an agreement over the rules and routines. Never has it been so important to remember how getting a good classroom climate brings a greater chance of good behaviour and attendance.

But nobody likes to be told what they CAN'T do (particularly teenagers).

Most students are more likely to want to know what they CAN do, before they make a choice about whether to do it or not.  So, when meeting your class for the first time, avoid using negatives in the rules, such as "do not" or "never".  Select precise behaviours that you expect to see and use positive terminology:  for example

- Arrive at class on time
- Finish food and drink before class begins
- Raise your hand before...

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