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Objectives:
Participants will be able to:
Evaluate and rank teaching methods by their capacity to differentiate
Identify methods they could use that differentiate well
Consider and share methods for improving differentiation while using teaching methods that do not differentiate well
Improve their concept of differentiation
Each of the following tasks is best done in groups of between two and four staff.
While completing these tasks take differentiate to mean can accommodate differences between students due to their different ability, prior learning, motivation etc.
Task 1: Teaching methods and differentiation
Stage 1 Which teaching methods differentiate best?
a. You are provided with cards describing commonly used teaching methods. Imagine each method being used in isolation. First, discard those methods you would never be able to use, and add methods you use but which do not appear on a card.
b. Your task is to place each method card in one of the following categories assuming the teaching method is used by itself:
A. Can differentiate well
B. Can differentiate reasonably well
C. Does not differentiate well
c. When you have finished categorising the cards rank them for differentiation within each category, the best on the left, the worst on the right. Share ideas about why you place each card as you do.
Stage 2: How can you improve differentiation while using weak teaching methods?
For each of the methods you placed in category C, decide as a group how you can make it differentiate better if you use it with other methods. For example Teacher Talk would differentiate better it were punctuated with Question and Answer, or short sessions of group work, especially if the questions were high order and sufficient wait time and help was given to allow all students to answer the questions.
Reference: For more information on these methods see:
(1998) G. Petty Teaching Today 2nd Edition Nelson Thornes
Which Teaching Methods Differentiate Best?
Place each teaching method card under one of the categories below
Assume each teaching method is being used in isolation
Take differentiates to mean can accommodate with differences between students due to their different ability, prior learning, motivation etc.
A. Can differentiate well
B. Can differentiate reasonably well
C. Can not differentiate well
Teacher Talk/Lecture
The teacher gives a verbal input, explaining and describing etc, perhaps with OHP or board to assist.Teacher questions, students answer
Question and answer used in the traditional way. The teacher asks a question, then students either put up their hands or call out the answer.Teacher demonstrates
The teacher shows students how to do something. This could be a practical procedure.
It could also be showing students how to do something on the board/OHT. For example a teacher showing students how to punctuate a sentence or solve a mathematical problem.Teacher questions with wait time
Question and answer in pairs. The teacher asks a thought provoking high order question, or at least an open question, and then leaves students to work on this in pairs for say one minute. Then the teacher asks for answers from volunteers.Buzz Group
Students work in a small group for a few minutes to answer a question or complete a task. The teacher asks for volunteers to give their groups answers.Assertive Questioning
Students are asked an open question. Students work on this individually, or better in pairs, for one to five minutes.
Teacher asks students if they have an answer. If they dont, help is given.
Teacher nominates students to give their answers, (not volunteers).Buzz Group (Assertive style)
Students work in a small group for a few minutes to answer a question or complete a task.
The teacher asks the groups if they have an answer, and helps those that do not or ask for help.
The teacher nominates groups to give their answers (not volunteers) Students create a leaflet or poster
Students are given a design brief such as design a leaflet/poster summarising the main means of ensuring effective dental care and work alone or in pairs to create it.Teacher led whole class discussion
The teacher asks students a question and then volunteer students, or nominated students give their answer to the class. Some students may also ask questions or make contributions.Individual writing task for students
Students are asked to write an assignment, essay or similar in class or on their own.
Students watch a video or film
This just involves watching the video or film, no other activity is set. However you might like to consider as a group how this method might be made to differentiate better
Worksheet
Students are given a worksheet with a range of graduated questions: that is, starting easy and getting harder.Past Paper exam questions
Students are given a worksheet with a range of questions, starting easy getting harder. Tests and Quizzes
This is the usual way of doing tests or quizzes where questions are asked, students respond. The teacher then establishes the correct answers and students or teacher marks the students responses. Formative Tests and Quizzes
Questions are asked by the teacher, and students respond. Students mark their own responses from model answers provided. Students establish which questions they got wrong and work on these.
The test/quiz is given again a day/week later but students only do the questions they got wrong the first time. Experiment/practical recipe style
Students are given a task to do along with the materials needed, and are also given a detailed description of how to do the task.Experiment/practical discovery style
Students are given a task to do but not told how to do it. Students plan a method, then check this with the teacher before starting. Students who cannot work out how to do it are given a recipe style help sheet or helped in some other way.Students create a handout
Students are given a design brief such as design a handout summarising the main means of ensuring effective dental care and work alone or in pairs to create it.Paired Student Practice
Students work in pairs on a written task to complete, which requires them to practise a skill demonstrated by the teacher. For example doing calculations, punctuating a sentence etc.
Pair Checking
Students check each others work. For example check each others calculations, punctuation etc after this work has been done individually.
Case Studies
Students are given a case study with graded questions. E.g. Business Studies students, after studying marketing, are given the marketing strategy of a small hotel and are asked questions about it. Both mastery and developmental questions are included.Visits or visitors
Students have appropriate visits or visitors, perhaps arranging aspects of the visit themselves.
Explaining Tasks
Maths/science: Students study worked examples and then explain the how and the why of the method to each other.
Other subjects: students explain the key points of a lesson to each other at the end of that lesson.
In both cases the teacher then gives model
explanationsReading
Students read appropriate texts. Choose whether the texts are given
Researching
Students are given a topic to research using books, internet, CDRom etc. Students may be given references or asked to find the material for themselves.
Students understanding is then checked with a short test
Student Presentation
Students are given a topic to explain to the class. They may work alone or in a small group to prepare, plan and deliver the presentation. Materials and plans are checked by the teacher before the presentation.
Guided Discovery
Students are given a question or task to reason out for themselves. E.g. How should business meetings be run for maximum effectiveness?
Students present their answer
The teacher comments on these, confirms good answers, and adds what students have missed by explaining this.Other Method (Please state):Other Method (Please state):
Other Method (Please state):
Notes for the Facilitator
The Which Teaching Methods Differentiate Best? activity
The categorisation of the teaching method does depend on exactly how it used so the following answers are only suggestions and assume the method is used in a conventional way. The objective of the task is not to get the right answers so much as to explore which methods differentiate best, and how to differentiate better. It is particularly difficult to be firm about which methods should be in category B.
Note that the categories use the word can. Can differentiate well is not the same as does differentiate well in every context and circumstance. Every method, if used badly, will not differentiate well!
A. Can differentiate well
Assertive Questioning
Buzz Group (Assertive style)
Students create a leaflet or poster
Individual writing task for students depends on the task though!
Worksheet
Formative Tests and Quizzes
Experiment/practical discovery style
Students create a handout
Formative Quizzes and tests
Case Studies
Visits or visitors
Explaining Tasks
Student Presentation
Guided Discovery
B. Can differentiate reasonably well
Teacher questions with wait time
Buzz Group
Paired student practice
Peer checking
Teacher led whole class discussion
Researching  does better if weak students, or those not working well, are discovered,and given the help they need
C. Does not differentiate well
Teacher talk/Lecture
Teacher questions, students answer
Teacher demonstrates
Students watching a video or film
Past Paper exam questions though this could differentiate well if the questions were graduated well and of varied difficulty allowing all students to succeed and all to be stretched.
Tests and Quizzes
Experiment/practical recipe style
Quizzes and tests
Reading
Improving differentiation while using the weak methods
What follows takes the methods that are often placed in category C does not differentiate well, and suggests how they could be adapted to differentiate better. The suggestions are debatable  and depend on the precise way in which the method is used, and the suggestions carried out.
Teacher talk/Lecture: can be improved by keeping it short and punctuating with question and answer. This is especially effective if high order questions are used with long wait times, and if the assertive style answering approach is used.
Many teachers teach to the middle all the time, but it is more effective to also teach to the top and teach to the bottom at least some of the time. For example a teacher can sometimes make a challenging point, and sometimes state the blindingly obvious, or explain a point in a simplistic way  with a warning that the explanation was rather simplistic if necessary.
Teacher questions, students answer: mix mastery and developmental questions; use substantial wait time and have high expectations of the quality of the answers; use assertive questioning; etc
Teacher demonstrates: The teacher could use questions such as why am I doing it like this? What would happen if I did it like that instead? Etc. Also the teacher can ask students to talk me thought one: the students then give the teacher instructions with reasoning, and the teacher follows these instructions supporting the students points if necessary.
Students watching a video or film: Give students questions that the film will answer before showing it. Make some questions mastery and some developmental.
Past Paper exam questions: If there are no easy questions, write some, and ask students to do these before the past paper question. Many exam questions differentiate well, it depends on the exam.
Tests and Quizzes: Use formative tests and quizzes
Experiment/practical recipe style: Use the discovery style or set developmental extension tasks for students who have competed the recipe satisfactorily.
Reading: Have a range of differentiated materials including some at a level below the students and some that is almost the level above. Then let students choose, or alternatively prescribe some texts to some students.
Task 3 How can you use teaching methods to differentiate better
This is a task for teaching teams, or pairs
a. Think for a moment about what you have learned or decided today about how to differentiate effectively, and prepare to summarise this. 5 mins
b. Tell your team or partner your views 10 mins
c. Write some experiments you would like to try on your Differentiation Action Plan
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