With our classes getting bigger and bigger and the needs of our learners becoming more and more diverse, differentiation has never been more important. This week I’m going to be focusing on ways instruction can be differentiated within the GCSE English classroom. Let’s start the week with three which work particularly well for exam preparation:
This takes a while to set up but has the advantage of reducing the amount of front of class teacher talk you have to do, freeing you up to monitor and support the students. During this activity you provide different types of content by setting up a learning station for each topic. You divide up sections of your classroom through which small groups of student rotate. To tailor it towards revision, each table could be for one of the exam questions and contain, for example, top tips, past paper questions, marked work, mark schemes, exemplar responses, video guidance etc.
The reality is that with a large class it is difficult to spend the one-to-one time with individual students. One strategy I’ve found helpful is to interview them. When the class are all working on an activity (for example, on the Learning Stations), pull individual students aside to hold a quick interview. How are they feeling about the exam? Which question would they like more help with? Do they know how to revise? And so on. You can then tailor your teaching to really suit their needs. It is surprising what you can learn about a student and what they feel they need in a couple of minutes of informal chat! I would argue that this is a useful strategy for all classes, but particularly helpful when exams are looming. A short one-to-one chat with you can have a surprisingly positive impact on their confidence too.
Using Task Cards
Creating a set of differentiated task cards again takes a little time but they can be really useful for supporting the individual experience of your students. Again these can be targeted towards exam preparation. I have adopted this strategy by using a table at the front of the class to display a range of task cards for each exam skill and the students came to the front to select the question or skill they needed to focus on. However; they could also be used for a small group activity or even a differentiated home learning task.
I hope you find these useful. I’ll be adding some more ideas on Wednesday so watch this space! Have a brilliant week.