Skip to 0 minutes and 0 secondsJANE: Hello, everybody. And welcome to our second video diary, differentiation planning. I'm Jane. And this is my colleague Yeasmin. And we've really been enjoying reading your comments. And we've just got a couple here that we're going to discuss a little bit further together, so onwards and upwards. It starts off with Mary. I loved your comment, Mary. Mary said that she didn't really feel like she was qualified enough to progress with the rest of the course, because she didn't really feel that she knew enough about what her children knew and about assessing them. And I think this is really common for teachers to have this feeling of inadequacy of these sorts of things.

Skip to 0 minutes and 39 secondsThe thing is, Mary, I bet you're doing a lot more than you realise already. And I like to use the analogy of driving a car. Do you know when you get in your car and you drive along, you're making assessments all the time. You don't think about them as assessments. But is there traffic coming towards you? Have you got enough petrol in the car-- all these little micro-assessments in the moment that you just react to. You don't write it down. And you move on. And the longer you've been teaching, the more you're doing this with your students all the time.

Skip to 1 minute and 6 secondsSo this is the sort of information that you're collecting almost unconsciously, and just doing what you need to for your students. And it's really powerful. I mean, we don't recognise it. And the other thing is it's not an exact science. You're not going to get numbers back. You can't say, oh, that child's a 35. And to move them up into 36 I need to do x, y, and z. You know, that child one day can do something, the next day they can't. And then they surprise you with how much they can do. And then they shock you with how badly they do something else that you thought would be a walk in the park.

Skip to 1 minute and 39 secondsSo you haven't got anything to really cling on to in the way that we really want to, because we so want to be doing the best that we can. So go with it, Mary. I'm sure you're doing a lot better than you think. Trust yourself. Just take a little steps at a time. Keep moving on. Remember, it's an evolution, not a revolution. You're just gradually improving your skills. And sometimes, it's not so much improving your skills, but just improving how much you understand what you are doing. And that's an improvement in itself, once you know what you know. So keep with it, Mary. You're doing a grand job.

Skip to 2 minutes and 12 secondsAnd I think you've got some stuff that Sam's been saying next, have you, Yeasmin?

Skip to 2 minutes and 16 secondsYEASMIN: Yes. I think they're linked in that. All of these comments are really flushing out the fact that differentiation is quite a big, complex thing. And it's not something-- an overnight insert or a one day insert will fix. It really is a career-long learning process. So Sam raises an interesting concern. And I thank you, Sam, for being totally honest. We love that level of honesty because we want you to get genuine learning out of this course. So Sam says that in some six years of teaching, Sam is not convinced that differentiation works. Is there proof? And that actually, maybe differentiation holds children back and creates low self-esteem. OK.

Skip to 3 minutes and 2 secondsSo I think the way to answer it is to just talk about sort of common cultures in school, if you like. Differentiation is done, done in some way or another, by all schools. But there are right ways of doing it, and there are wrong ways of doing it. And unfortunately, I've been to so many schools, as has my colleague Jane. And probably more of us are doing it the wrong way than the right way. Because it's a shortcut. It's a management shortcut, as well as maybe an individual shortcut. So schools often misinterpret differentiation. I do urge you all to have a look at our page, which covers some of the mix as to what differentiation is and what it isn't.

Skip to 3 minutes and 45 secondsWhat are the problems with the variants? Well, things like setting the student or labelling students. That will demoralise them. It will demoralise them. And as Jane mentioned in the previous slides, actually students' ability profile, for want of a better word, is a spiky, spiky profile. That means they're going to be good at some things, and not so good at others, which means how fast they can tackle a task is going to change task by task. So when we give them general labels, actually, it can demoralise them. And maybe that's one of the things that we react against when we think that differentiation doesn't work. Those overgeneralized differentiation tools actually can often backfire as well. They're not effective, either.

Skip to 4 minutes and 35 secondsAnd they can be unmanageable and unrealistic, unworkable. And all these things build to not only student low self-esteem, but teacher low self-esteem as well. So differentiation is something much more sophisticated and much more malleable, and promotes inclusive learning, empowers the learner. And hopefully, all of the different examples that we tried to give that-- and our lead educators have given a wide variety of examples-- pulls out from this thing of giving students choices, allowing them to make informed choices, so that each child is moving at their individual fastest possible rate of learning. So good differentiation, it does work. And it raises self-esteem. Please trust us on that.

Skip to 5 minutes and 27 secondsAnd hopefully, by the end of the course, we'll all feel the same way as it. So, bear with it. And hopefully, you'll see the rationale at the end. So thank you very much, Sam, for your honesty and raising that concern, which I'm sure was shared by many. OK. So Christine Harrison in I think page-- step 3.2, she did describe four types of differentiation. And I think there were concerns with participants that we may be doing one and not the other. We might have more stronger leanings towards one and not the other. But actually, these four routes, they're quite strongly linked. And they're more often overlapped than not.

Skip to 6 minutes and 11 secondsSo if I give you an example, just one example, if a teacher, say, creates, I don't know, four tasks and gives them out to the students, and just guides different students towards different tasks, then that is differentiation by task. Because each of them are doing different tasks. OK. And now while they're doing those tasks, that teacher might be walking around intervening. So they might say, ah, actually, this one's-- you've tackled this one fine now. Move on to the more difficult one or vice versa. So now the teacher's intervening by adjusting the choices, which tasks they tackle. So we've got intervention. We've got differentiation by intervention as well.

Skip to 6 minutes and 53 secondsNow about tackling those different tasks, the students are following different routes in their learning. So we've already hit three different areas just by this one task there. And chances are, some students will be flying much further ahead as well. So then we've got differentiation by outcome as well. So that was my one example to show that how one thing can actually hit all four of those areas.

Skip to 7 minutes and 24 secondsSo moving on to a comment by Jennifer. Jennifer raises a really, really good comment with sharing her learning. So she found one of the issues that I think all of us of have shared this, have experiences, most of us, is that when differentiating, too many students are maybe waiting for the teacher to come and support them, so the ones who are stuck, or the ones who want the questions answered and the rest of it. So the problem is there's only one teacher in the room, and there's 30 students. We're a scarce resource.

Skip to 8 minutes and 0 secondsAnd so, if we look at it in sort of a little bit of a mathematical way, if you've got one resource being shared by 30 people, then you've got a bottleneck situation going on. So if the teacher delivers-- if the teacher is seeing themselves as the main resource, the problem is you've only got two things you can do. You can either lecture all of them at the same time. That's not differentiating. Or, you're going to be running around trying to deal with individuals, in which case, you'll be running around the room. And it's just unworkable, unrealistic. So the teacher doesn't have to be the key resource. The teacher can be the facilitator.

Skip to 8 minutes and 45 secondsSo Jane-- Jennifer has realised that the more independence we give the students, the more we allow them to work in pairs or in groups, the more they're using other resources other than the teacher. They're using themselves, first of all. They're using the other learners. And the more independent they are, they can use books and all the rest of it. So it allows more malleable, flexible learning to take place. So thanks very much, Jennifer, for raising that piece of learning. So I'm going to hand back over to Jane for a comment by Anneliese.

Skip to 9 minutes and 20 secondsJANE: [INAUDIBLE] Anneliese. And she commented-- she works with very young children. So one of her 5 year-olds was really surprised that she didn't know everything. And I think you raise such a valuable point here. And one of them is that letting the children know that you don't know everything releases teachers from the burden of perfection, which is a hard burden to bear, isn't it? Because we don't know everything. And I think perhaps it's slightly easier for primary teachers to let the mask slip. Because we are in a situation where we're generalists and trying to teach lots of different subjects.

Skip to 9 minutes and 53 secondsAnd whereas, I think perhaps in a secondary school where you really are a specialist in one subject, and you might feel like you really do have to know everything, you really don't. And if you show your children sometimes you don't know something, you're doing some really valuable things for them. One, you're being a role model on what it's like to be wrong, how it's nothing to be ashamed of, how it's a learning opportunity, a chance to find out, and a chance to grow. You make the classroom in a place where it's a safe place to make mistakes. Even you make mistakes, and you're not flustered by them. And they know that they can make mistakes.

Skip to 10 minutes and 31 secondsAnd it just focuses on the process of learning. It's not all about chasing the correct answer. It's about learning together. And I just really want to quickly share a little anecdote about Michael Rosen, the poet. And he talks about when he was in the sixth form, he's got a young English teacher who admitted to the class he didn't recognise-- it was not a book he was familiar with, one of their texts that they were working on. And they spent the two years working on it together. And he told his father about this. And his father went, oh, yes, that old trick to really get you engaged. But it worked.

Skip to 11 minutes and 6 secondsBecause Michael Rosen said it's a text he really learned to love. And he learned a lot better than the others. And he met that teacher a few years later and said, oh, that was a great trick. And the teacher went, no, I really, really didn't know that book. We really did learn it together. So it really can pay off. So go with it. And now moving on to seek to Jessita's comment. I loved your phrase, Jessita, choice and voice. Now, first of all, she talked about it in terms of when you're working with children in a language that's not their mother tongue. And I know some people, you want to immerse them in the new language.

Skip to 11 minutes and 48 secondsSo you're going to talk in that language all the time. And I can see where you're coming from. And I can see that's really going to help children develop a language quickly. However, when you try to teach them a new and tricky concept that would be tricky even if you were learning it in a language that you were familiar with, I think you really do need to revert back to the mother tongue. And work on the concept and get the ideas and the vocabulary embedded in the language that the children are familiar with. And then introduce the target language for that topic. The children have then got some vocabulary that they already understand that they're just learning new words for.

Skip to 12 minutes and 25 secondsThey're actually probably going to rehearse the concept a bit more. It's probably going to do the science or maths learning more good because they understood it once. Now they're going to try and understand it again in a different language. And it's really going to reinforce the target language and make it even stronger. So thank you very much for that, Jessita. And also, she talks about some really creative assessment opportunities. She's got a bit of a flipped classroom thing going on. And she'd done a topic with the children. And she sent them home to find some way of sharing their learning with the rest of the class.

Skip to 13 minutes and 1 secondIf you read this slide, you'll see she had lots of different things that the children brought in. And, as she said, it gave her, she called it a secret assessment opportunity. The children didn't know they were being assessed. But wow, didn't they give her a lot of information? They were just engaged and enjoying sharing their learning. So thank you very, very much for that example, Jessita. And I think you've got something from Colin for us now, have you, Yeasmin?

Skip to 13 minutes and 26 secondsYEASMIN: Indeed. Thank you very much, Colin, for sharing your reflections with us. I do encourage you to stop the tape and read through Colin's comment about student buy-in and student empowerment. I just want to pick up on one thing that Colin said that brings it all the way back to the first slide that Jane shared for Mary's comment. So he said, it's all about-- he's realised that it's all about just making tweaks to his practise. And I think that's a really, really important point. Because we are talking about evolution, not revolution, as Jane said-- tweaking, making subtle changes that actually have big impact. So just because the change is small doesn't mean it won't have a big impact.

Skip to 14 minutes and 11 secondsGiving yourself a chance to develop your own understanding of differentiation, and recognising that differentiation, it's actually a career-long learning process. So it's not something that can be done and dusted in a term or a half a term, but to make it a process of continuous refinement. That way, you're making it manageable for yourself. It's not so scary then. And actually, then, it's more likely to pay dividends for you, me, and the students as well. So thank you very much Colin for that. So that brings us to the end of this particular video diary. So Jane and I will be recording our last one in roughly a fortnight's time. Do look out for our lead educators answering your questions.

Skip to 15 minutes and 0 secondsAnd they will make a video of that. And they will be posted up on step 5.2. So keep your comments coming. And we look forward to reading them. See you all online.

Reflect on your learning with Jane & Yeasmin

You’re now a good way through the course and we would like to encourage you to take some time to:

  • Reflect on your learning so far
  • Celebrate any Eureka moments you may have had
  • Consider any implications for you in your classroom

Reflection grid

Take a look at your reflection grid for this week. Add to your reflection grid based upon your understanding of the course, discussions and classroom practice this week.

Make a note of any outstanding questions, as you can take these to the Q&A session.

  • Step 5.2 - post questions before 22 March 2019.

Mentors video diary

Your mentors will reflect back on the first two week’s key themes and your comments. You can use this to catch up on the course discussions and see if you missed any of the highlights so far. This second video diary will be available after 22 March.

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Teaching STEM Subjects: Differentiation for Learning

National STEM Learning Centre