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English Online. Every child literate - a shared responsibility.
Ministry of Education.

Massey High School - approach to differentiation

Massey High School is a large mid-decile, co-educational school in West Auckland, with a high Māori and Pacific Island population. The school incorporates over 50 different ethnicities and approximately 20% of students speak their native language at home.

The English department have had a focus on differentiation, led by the Head of Department, for several years. A key aspect of this focus has been the priority for teachers to know the learning needs and strengths of the students in their classes. By using ongoing qualitative and quantitative evidence, teachers adapt the teaching and learning programme to best meet the individual and collective needs of their classes by planning appropriate differentiated tasks.

Teachers are encouraged to build on students’ prior knowledge and strengths from other curriculum areas in their teaching programme. There is a strong emphasis on:

  • students’ ability to choose tasks and to work at their own pace
  • group and peer work - teachers deliberately select groups based on students’ strengths and learning needs in order for all students to be extended through peer and group collaboration
  • establishing success criteria for tasks through group and peer checklists that build on students’ ability to identify the skill that they are working on.

Massey High School has used the Collins Writing Programme to teach writing skills. This is a cross curricular writing programme designed to give teachers processes to teach subject specific writing skills. It focuses on ensuring that specific skills are taught and assessed and builds on basic gathering of information - Type 1 - to a fully structured, edited and developed piece of writing - Type 5. Both lessons seen in this clip are focused on Types 2 and 3 of the writing process. Students focus only on those aspects of writing that have been taught immediately prior to the writing. Summative writing assessments are marked against a rubric which has been developed using the key skills in the curriculum document, translated into language students are more likely to understand.

Video clip: Head of English department (HoD) overview

Video clip: Head of English department (HOD) cross curricular writing programme

Published on: 25 Oct 2012


Laura's Year 9 class

Laura has a high ability Year 9 class. She deliberately chooses mixed ability groups (two high ability and two low ability) alongside a differentiated task to meet the learning needs of this class.

Hama's Year 9 class

Hama has a bilingual Year 9 class with a wide range of abilities in English, and a variety of overall literacy skills. He is wanting his students to achieve success as Māori. In order to do this Hama uses strategies that allow him to co-construct learning with his students.



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