How do teachers plan for different levels of differentiation?
The varying ability of children in the classroom means that in order for all to be educationally challenged, teachers should arrange activities and set learning intentions in certain ways to ensure the equal opportunities of learning for all children. By examining the work of theorists, such as Piaget (1961) and Vygotsky (1978), the importance of motivating all children by providing challenging tasks is extremely significant. Off course these tasks must be differentiated to account for the range of ability in classrooms. It is therefore vital for teachers to acknowledge the level of individual children, so that appropriate tasks can be set to fulfil certain goals and enhance learning. Further ideas and implications have been discussed to analyse in which particular ways the teacher may employ to plan for different levels of differentiation in the classroom.cofd fdr sefdfdw orfd fdk infd fofd fd.
This essay has only briefly discussed differentiation in terms of the differing abilities of children. It is important to remember that differentiation can also be present in gender, social class, ethnicity and religion. Teachers should provide all children with equal opportunities to their right to a fair education, building and developing the child's individual needs.
How do teachers plan for levels of differentiation?
In every classroom there is an obvious diversity in children's learning styles and abilities. High motivation in children can be achieved in a variety of different ways and therefore it is important to provide varying levels of stimulation for all abilities. Planning should accommodate for the differences in ability and performance of all children, 'including the more able and those with special educational needs' (DfES, 2002, S3.3.4, p13) and thus implying that teachers should be active in differentiating. It is beneficial to evaluate ways in which this is portrayed and organised in the classroom, in order to consider any future implications. This essay will draw upon notes from observation week, as well as background theory on the subject area. cal1966, please do not redistribute this hypothesis. We work very hard to create this website, and we trust our visitors to respect it for the good of other students. Please, do not circulate this hypothesis elsewhere on the internet. Anybody found doing so will be permanently banned.
Theoretical support derives from the psychologists Jean Piaget (1961) and Lev Vygotsky (1978). The former theorist suggests that children are active constructors of their own social world. Teachers should constantly build schemata by presenting novel situations which provide a challenge to the child's existing beliefs and thus enable the child to accommodate their knowledge accordingly (DfES, S3.1.1).
Vygotsky (1978) claimed that the teacher's purpose was to provide a model of intellect which the child could aspire to and actively want to pursue through social interaction. The 'zone of proximal development' (ZPD) is the distance between the child's actual developmental level and a more heightened level that they are able to reach with help and support from a more able individual. Thereby suggesting that teachers need to plan by ensuring all children are provided with distinctive challenging tasks, so that they can increase their level of knowledge with interaction from another 'expert' individual. Both theorists suggest teachers need to ensure that the tasks are challenging for the range of learners in the class (DfES, S3.1.1). This will help stimulate the child and therefore lead to learning. So in what ways do teachers plan to accommodate for children across the ability range? from coursewrok work info
The grouping of children can play a key role in managing for levels of differentiation, especially when considering the influence interaction may have (Vygotsky, 1978). In all Key Stage 1 classes, children were seated in groups according to their ability. This meant that teachers could easily assign certain groups with different levels of activities and support (according to their ability) and children in 'their group' could work in a suitable pace with their 'group peers'.
Despite Vygotsky's (1978) emphasis on interaction, he would object to this type of grouping and would opt for mixed ability seating, seen in the upper years of the 'observed' school. In this way a more able child can be a positive influence and support the less able child. However, in a Years 5 class, children were split into ability groups for literacy and numeracy and furthermore, numeracy sessions in a Year 6 class involved an actual physical separation into two classes; one for the lower ability and one for the higher. This made teaching more effective, as teachers could attend to similar ability children, meaning that the whole class could work in a pace suitable for them. This meant allowing more time needed in the lower ability group to solve suitable numerical problems (DfES, S3.3.4 and S3.3.7).code der sededew orde dek inde fode de:
Teachers may also plan differences in the input of activities. This can include slight variations of a task or allocating totally different activities for the differing ability groups, however, both with the same or similar learning objective (DfES, S3.1.1). During observation week, numeracy lessons for one Year 2 and Year 5 class were given different levels of worksheets to complete according to the child's ability. This is suitable if the task is providing challenges to the children but in some cases this may not occur. Bearne (1996) suggests that teachers should attempt to 'provide for the variety of ways in to learning.' A learning objective can be assessed in many ways, and if a child has difficulty in for example recording their work, they should be given a chance to show their abilities in another way, i.e., in oral group work or with other materials, such as ICT (DfES, S3.2.1, S3.3.10).
In another instance, the learning objective for a Year 1 literacy lesson was, 'to develop different handwriting styles.' The lower ability task was to draw the other side of a picture. The rest of the class were given certain words and letters to write in their handwriting books. The teacher however could still assess similar skills in all children, for example, whether or not the children could control the movement and hold the pencil correctly. Despite the fact that these assessments could be made for all children, the lower ability group perhaps should have been given a chance to practise letter formation with the rest of the class, as outlining a picture seemed unnecessary compared to practising handwriting skills, especially in a literacy lesson with that as the learning objective. However, the teacher explained that she used this form of differentiation because the lower group would have found difficulty in the task. Thus, this signifies that teachers should be well aware of the abilities and skills each child can achieve to assist when planning activities (DfES, S3.2.6).
A problem with differentiating task input is that children may begin to notice that some work is easier than others, and this may therefore create devaluing feelings and opinions of the lower ability children, possibly generating harmful remarks and behaviour from the other more able children (Montgomery). Montgomery (1996) also suggests a suitable form of differentiation is applying whole class group work. Teachers with the knowledge of each child's ability can conduct oral/mental starters by targeting appropriate questions to specific children. This was seen throughout the school, where teachers modified their questions according to the directed child. Reason (1993) suggests that teachers should understand the child's ability in order to plan future tasks for the child, suitable to their learning. Thus, as mentioned previously, when planning, teachers need to cross reference tasks set with the child's ability assessed over time (DfES, S3.2.6).
The resources supplied to children can help support individual children in their learning. Teachers need to plan extension work, especially for children who work at a faster rate. This was seen in a Year 5 class and seemed successful, as while the 'gifted and talented' group continued with their individual worksheets, the teacher could offer help to the rest of the class. Another example was when a Year 2 class teacher provided the lower ability group with multilink cubes to help with an addition task. The other children were encouraged to use a big number square displayed on the wall. The problem with this is that those children not provided with these concrete objects to physically work with, may be considered at a disadvantage. Askew (1998) emphasises the importance of physical objects to 'develop mental ideas' (p2) and suggests that it is unfair to remove the use of such materials. Therefore, teachers have to be careful when planning for one group that they do not unintentionally hinder the learning of another group.
Research by Reason (1993), suggests the teacher should ensure that all children have an opportunity to 'teacher time' where necessary. Evidence of this planning has been observed in weekly plans in a Year 1 class, where the teacher pre plans work to do with a 'focus group' in a particular session. This group was not always the lower ability group but also included children of average ability. A problem with this is that the higher ability may not get as much individual attention unless they ask for it and any children with difficulties are at a disadvantaged when the teacher is engaged with the 'focus group.' Teachers should provide attention and individual support to all children and when they are busy with a 'focus group' they should return to any other children who had problems when they can (DfES, S3.2.4).
Differentiation can be further planned in relation to extra support from Learning support assistants and other educational specialists (DfES, S3.3.13). During observation week, many classes had additional support from an assistant, who worked in co-operation with the class teacher. For a Year 5 numeracy lesson, an assistant worked with the lower ability group outside the class. This meant the teacher could concentrate teaching the rest of the class. Also in the same class, there was another assistant working specifically with an autistic child. Both teacher and assistant worked together when planning an individual action plan for the child. The autistic child was encouraged to participate in the oral starter and the teacher involved the child by asking him a suitable numerical question. The importance of inclusion and providing opportunities for all children is highlighted here.
There have been many different ways that differentiation of differing abilities has been accounted for in planning. Piaget (1961) and Vygotsky (1978) highlight the importance of providing children with individual challenges, as well as the significance of independent and interactive learning (DfES, S3.3.3). Therefore, in order to 'challenge' all children, teachers must plan to motivate all differing ability children.
Children should experience a contrast in working environments, consisting of working with mixed ability, similar ability groups and independent work with appropriately organised tasks and the same learning objective wherever possible. Also teachers should involve all children in whole class teaching and provide all with the use of different resources and individual teaching/support time if necessary and available.
Most importantly, when planning to account for such differences is the idea that the teacher should be consciously aware of each child's different abilities and targets, so that tasks and general organisation can be set in accordance to this to help motivate the child and enhance their learning.
References and Bibliography
Askew, M (1998) Teaching Primary Mathematics. London: Hodder and Stoughton.
Bearne, E (1996) Key issues in classroom differentiation.
In Pollard, A, Readings for Reflective Teaching (pp180-183). London: Continuum.
DfES (2002) Professional Standards for Qualified Teacher Status and Requirements for Initial Teacher Training.
Montgomery, D (1996) Curriculum strategies for able pupils.
In Pollard, A, Readings for Reflective Teaching (pp183-186). London: Continuum.
Piaget, J (1961) The genetic approach to the psychology of thought.
In Pollard, A, Readings for Reflective Teaching (pp109-111). London: Continuum.
Pollard, A (2002) Readingsfor Reflective Teaching. London: Continuum.
Pollard, A (2002) Reflective Teaching: Effective and Evidence-informed Professional Practice. London: Continuum
Reason, R (1993) 'Good practice' in group work.
In Pollard, A, Readings for Reflective Teaching (pp204-206). London: Continuum.
Vygotsky, L (1978) Mind in Society and the ZPD.
In Pollard, A, Readings for Reflective Teaching (pp112-114). London: Continuum.