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

High expectations and goal setting



I got the unique opportunity to teach English to year 9 bilingual students. And we've got a real unique mix in there, which is awesome. Really creative class, very capable class. And what I've seen with them so far is an energy and a willingness to give things a go. So within it is a fairly broad range of ability. I've got students with a reading age of around eight, right up to students who are reading at 15 and 16. And the writing is at a similar sort of level as well with comprehension. So, yeah, I need to differentiate. I can't get up the front and try and do the same thing with everyone. And the main outcome I see is it makes things a bit more manageable for students. Helps build up students' confidence when they know that the task ahead of them is challenging, but ultimately doable. Whereas times I haven't use differentiation, the top students often they'll get bored with it. Middle students find it easy. The ones down the bottom well, they're gonna really struggle. So it's an absolute necessity for the kind of class I have.

Student 1:
The teacher writes that I need to learn... practice on my grammar and spelling, so that I can be an A-star student.

Now the aim why we're doing this... is this, I want you to show improvement, that means you're getting better. Ka pai. To be gaining marks and a level above your current level. Right. You're at a level, and we need to raise that level up.

The areas we're going to focus on are ideas, development, structure, terms or language features, and then accuracy. Ka pai? We can have a quick look through that.

Paetae means what? Achieve. Kaiaka therefore means? Merit. And kairangi is? Excellence. Ka pai.

Student 2:
What do those mean?

Student 3:
Paetae means you've got lots of ideas, like, really good ideas but it needs developing. Like, you've got some examples but no paragraphs. And you just need to work on some of your spelling and grammar and punctuation. Merit, kaiaka, your ideas are really clear, but your examples lack in detail, so you need to put more detail in. You've still got some 'there is' there. But excellence. That's where it's nice and clear. It's persuasive. Good examples used. There's one main idea per paragraph, so you're really detailed in your work. So there's not much errors.

So which one are you going to go for?

Student 4:
Probably excellence because last time Matua told me that I have to improve on my punctuation.

So one way to ensure that students know where they're at is we hold regular assessments. It might be written, it might be reading, it might be just a quiz. Anything like that. And that way I can feed back to them exactly what they need to work on, but also the level that they're aiming for. I don't say you're a level two or you're a level six, but what I will say is, you need to work on, say, paragraphing. And I get all this from our rubric, I get all this from our explicit level two to level six diagram. So all that feedback, I give that feedback orally. I write into their books. Any marking sheets they get, they stay with them in their books as well, so they can see it as well. But a student should know exactly what they need to be working on at any given time, any given assessment.

back to Hama's class - focusing inquiry

Published on: 29 Oct 2012