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A question about your A-Level teaching

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by brookes, Sep 17, 2011.

  1. Hi, I'm having a discussion about our A-Level course with SMT next week and having a look at the prompt questions (these are generic for all subjects/qualifications taught here). One is about differentiation, "how does teaching cater for students of different abilities?". It's got me thinking and I'd be interested to hear what other schools do in this respect.
     
  2. Hi, I'm having a discussion about our A-Level course with SMT next week and having a look at the prompt questions (these are generic for all subjects/qualifications taught here). One is about differentiation, "how does teaching cater for students of different abilities?". It's got me thinking and I'd be interested to hear what other schools do in this respect.
     
  3. I do the same as i do at KS4!
     
  4. Hmm, at KS4 we differentiate with different ability classes, matching teacher's strengths and styles to the needs of the students, different learning outcomes for a given objective, different tier of exam entry, use of intervention staff etc none of which we can use at KS5. However, your reply has also made me realise that we use a mix of activities, differentiated Q&A and different levels of support and scaffolding - all of which we use at KS5 too. I still have a bit of a block about the exam. At KS4 I believe it's possible to teach a student up to grade B, they can ignore higher level topics that are beyond them and still gain a grade B. At KS5 any topic can come up as an easy one mark question at the start of the exam OR a challenging multi-part final question. A student needs to be more than competent in all of the topics.
     
  5. pipipi

    pipipi New commenter


    I don't think I actually do much differentiation at all.

    My Alevel teaching is just going through a few examples on the board, and then spending a few minutes with every pupil 1-1. And going back to spend more time with anyone who is getting stuck.
    Near exam time we photocopy a whole bunch of exam papers with markschemes so they can work through them, see what earns marks and check their answers.
     
  6. DM

    DM New commenter

    No differentiation in A Level? Yet more dumbing down.
    [​IMG]
     
  7. bombaysapphire

    bombaysapphire Star commenter

    I usually set extension questions as part of homework for A level. The kids know whether they are expected to have a go at them or not. If I expect them to do them and they don't then they are quickly told! I more often have students attempting them who I didn't necessarily expect to.
    I also talk to students individually about the right exam technique for them. The right approach for turning a potential D into a C isn't the right way to go for an A or an A*.
     
  8. afterdark

    afterdark Lead commenter

    The question is a little redundant. All the students on the A level course should have passed GCSE. If they want less able A students to get more teacher time be sure to insist that the school staff this as they would any other class.
    You cannot realisticly reduce the content. Any reduction of content has cumulative knock on effects later on, due to the cummulative nature of the subject.

    What do they think the A in A level stands for?

    As far as I am concerned the only [non-calculus] differention is elaboration of questions asked.
    Some years they struggle with one topic the next year it can be different. A dynamic positive feedback system is essential.
    Perhaps they should try and understand that the differentiation occurs at GCSE results day then they their GCSE grades.
    The ALIS data clearly shows that even students with a C grade at GCSE struggle with A level. This is if your professional opinion is not enough for them.
    Beware of loonies on the SMT who want you take on A level students with less than a grade C at GCSE.
     
  9. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Well someone had to say it!
     
  10. Maths_Mike

    Maths_Mike New commenter

    Especially as a grade C is a prerequiste!
     
  11. mmmmmaths

    mmmmmaths New commenter

    I started when A level was a 2 year linear course either pure and stats or pure and mechanics. So really everyone needed to do and grasp everything or they spent the 'upper sixth' understanding little!

    Now the group will contain those for whom C1, C 2 content is the end game ie they will stop at AS and those who will need the c1and c2 content as building blocks for A 2 and FM content. Not easy.

    My differentiation is usually the same as for 11 to 16 classes; column A questions if you need to consolidate, column B questions if you are confident and ready for more challenge so don't need to waste time doing the easy stuff. Extra out of class time for those who start with poor algebra skills to sort out their misconceptions. No compromise on language of mathematics and mathematical presentation.

    I am still unhappy about how I differentiate for the most able as I would love to be able to miss out the GCSE content totally and get on with the real advanced content like I used to in the 80's when only those capable of doing A level arrived in my classes in September.
     
  12. I agree with MMMMMMATHS, inconsequential to teh fact that the subject is termed advanced even B grade students have massive holes in basic skills and concepts. To address this i have to start with GCSE based questions and work upwards. Time is a massive constraint as i personally feel that the more able are not challenged. Differentiate by sending the less able to a PRU.. oh thats terrible!!
     
  13. Interesting topic of discussion and something I'm struggling with at the moment. In my class have 17 students ranging from grade C to grade A*. It is not like GCSE where there are topics can be graded differently - as someone has said, students really need to know everything in order to be successful. I think the differentiation comes in the pace that students work at, and so more able students can be extended with more contextualised questions. It is a real challenge - I don't think any KS3 or 4 classes at my school have such a wide range of ability. I have considered separating the class and doing different things completely but the truth is there isn't enough of me to be able to devote enough time to the less able consolidating and the more able going on to more advanced content.
     

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