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Ministry of Education.

Laura's class - teaching inquiry

What strategies were most likely to help Laura’s students learn what they needed to learn?

Through diagnostic and formative assessment, students are grouped deliberately to offer extension for all students. The tasks are scaffolded through an adaptation of the three level reading guide, based on Bloom’s taxonomy of thinking. The three level writing guide supports students through forming simple ideas with detail - Curriculum Levels 1 & 2 - to adding detail in an organised way. This process scaffolds them towards the final paragraph task which requires them to demonstrate “develops and communicates increasingly comprehensive ideas, information and understandings” NZC English Level 5 - Ideas.
The video clip shows the benefits of mixed ability grouping alongside the differentiated task :

  • activation of student’s prior knowledge
  • three levels of questions that increase in depth of thinking and writing
  • oral discussion and visual tasks that links to student’s artistic skills
  • students working at their own pace yet contributing to group discussions. All of these strategies scaffold students to develop increasingly comprehensive ideas.

Video clip: differentiation of ideas

What evidence did Laura draw on?

As a Te Kotahitanga trained teacher, in a school where this is the primary professional development programme, the pedagogy of that programme informs all classroom practice.

What evidence did Laura draw on from her own practice or that of her colleagues?

Writing mileage and accuracy issues are barriers to writing for many Massey High School students. Therefore beginning with drawing and talking allows students to generate ideas before facing the writing barrier. The gradual build-up of depth and detail through differentiated tasks allows students to begin with a clearly achievable task, then move into the level of writing required at curriculum level 5 (which is the aim for the whole class in the end of year assessment). This level of the curriculum requires deliberate choice of content, language and text form and this task scaffolds students into reaching that level of writing.

Laura's class - learning inquiry

Published on: 25 Oct 2012

What differentiated instruction means for teachers

Teachers do:

  • provide several learning options, or different paths to learning, which help students take in information and make sense of concepts and skills
  • provide appropriate levels of challenge for all students, including those who lag behind, those who are advanced, and those right in the middle.

Teachers don't:

  • develop a separate lesson plan for each student in a classroom
  • "water down" the curriculum for some students.

From Teaching Today