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Discussion in 'Primary' started by j_dawg, Aug 15, 2011.

  1. <font size="2">Hello, I am just starting to think about next year after a lovely break. I have just finished my NQT year. One of the aspects of my teaching that I would like to improve is the way that I teach a class with a wide range of ability. </font><font size="2">I have year 6 next year, with abilities ranging from 1c to 5b, with fairly even spread in between. I feel fairly secure that the independent and group work that I set is sufficiently differentiated and allows pupils to progress at their own level. I feel less secure about the way I organise teaching time. </font><font size="2">For example if I am teaching division, I find it hard to give meaningful input across that ability range, and have experimented with teaching half of the class at a time. I also want to avoid sending the 4 or 5 L.A kids out the class to work with my (excellent) T.A as this doesn't really seem very inclusive or fair on them. I suppose that really I would like to teach all children at the same time around a L.O that looks at the same/ related strand.</font>
    <font size="2">Does anybody know of any good books, teachers TV or publications etc that could give me a few pointers? I have had a look around but have only really found material about how to adapt tasks, rather than the practical aspects of teaching.</font>
  2. I used to send my LA group out during the oral/mental starter to work on more relevant LO or to pre teach what I was going to cover in the main part of the lesson to give them a chance at getting it!
  3. <font size="4">As a Y6 teacher I am faced with the same challenges as you. There is no easy solution. I'm presuming the nub of your problem is the same as mine: the initial teaching input. It is very difficult to tune into all levels at once - in fact it's just not possible when you are dealing with levels 1-6 all listening to you at the same time. I also agree, that it is not a problem when the chn do their differentiated tasks &ndash; it&rsquo;s the actual whole class teaching. The fact is that when they go into year 7, most likely they will be streamed. How do you effectively keep a level 5/6 child engaged whilst not causing confusion to your level 3/SEN?I do not feel that I have perfected the art and it is the one thing that really bothers me.What I do try to do is start with something basic and say something like: "You will have used this method before so this is revision." I refresh their memories and have a list of Qs on the board for SEN chn to do and TA can support. Then I move into where 4s should be - show the method set/ask some Qs, get chn to demonstrate on the board etc. Then I demonstrate or ask how to tackle the tricky Qs which L5/6s should get to. As far as sending your SEN/LA out with the TA - think about it in reverse: how does it feel to sit there feeling everyone else is smarter than you but you are still struggling to understand? I'm not saying all SEN/LA chn feel this way during the maths teaching input but it is a point to consider. Generally they feel more confident working in a smaller group with people of their own ability at a pace that suits them. They feel good when they are learning and doing well. I don't always send SEN/LA chn out with the TA but I find it can be effective and can boost, not dent, the child's confidence due to what they achieve. But I am not saying this is the case for every child in every situation: I am just stating my observations.
    I also send out my HA for small group work. In fact, through out the year the whole of the class leave the class room during maths at one time or another to do small group work and they are desperate to go! They love it. This helps dispell the stigma of going out of the class room for support/work. It really works too - my results have been 85-95% level 4+, 50%+ level 5, and a good crop of level 6 (I'm pleased with these results considering I always have a group of SEN often statemented).

    I'm sorry I can't give you a simple or particularly useful answer but I wanted to reply so that you know that you are not alone!
    </font><font size="+0">
  4. No idea why my font came out so big!!?!

  5. I always have the same worry: I know that my differentiation of activities is OK, it's pitching the whole class input to four year groups that I find most challenging.
    This year, with an enormous class-size to contend with too, I am going to experiment with sending groups out with my TA more. This will be lower, middle and higher ability. I don't feel that there will be a stigma involved and, as the previous poster said, I think if all groups rotate, they will soon be clamouring to go! My main concern is going to be in effect planning and resourcing for two people, and finding the time to talk to my TA about the plans.
    I'm planning on trying:
    Differentiated M/O starter with everyone in the room (too much toing and froing otherwise), some chn with TA support as necessary,
    Split two ways for teaching input and individual work (LA / MA). HA will most often stay with the MA, but have differentiated questioning and more challenging work. Sometimes, though, I thought I'd set the HA an independent task during teaching input time, and then go and work with them once the others are underway with their work. That way, in theory, I should have some quality teaching time with two groups in one lesson. I only have a small handful of HA this year, so they are going to find themselves mainly lumped in with the huge MA group I'm afraid, with appropriate challenge and extension.
    Hmmm... it sounds like a lot of organising, but I'm going to give it a whirl and see what happens.

  6. flickaz

    flickaz New commenter

    Do you have access to computers in your classrooms? I sometimes put my LA/SEN groups on maths games/revision sites on the computers during my introductions if I feel they will be completely confuddled. This enables them to practise their basic skills while I teach the rest of the class. I will then work with the LA/SEN chn and do a separate introduction for them.
  7. Thanks very much for all of the advice so far.
    It is a difficult one, good to know that I am not the only person that struggles with this.
    I like a lot of the strategies suggested, I think the key is going to be to keep experimenting and find a set up that works, and try to establish the best ways of teaching across the range of ability and dividing my time.
  8. I approach this problem from the opposite end. During the mental/oral or teaching (not every session), I set a thinking skills or investigative challenge for my HA, giving direct input to my Average and below. Then, while they are working, I spend time with my HA showing a more advanced method or whatever is appropriate. I've found this very useful as the lower ability are included and more to the point, not confused. This way, if i have an average child who has grasped the concept well, i can keep them with me when discussing the higher ability work. This ensures that all children are challenged (I don't have a TA).
  9. That is an excellent idea cg82!!! I have never thought about doing it the other way around. I will definitely be trying that one out in September (PGCE). I love how everyone is included, the HA are challenged and you can see how individuals are progressing up to HA.
  10. lillipad

    lillipad New commenter

    I have tried something similar, but what sort of things do you give to your ha to get on with? I as thinking follow on work from the previous lesson because that would give them an opportunity to do something independent?
    Do you ever swap it around so la are doing a challenge while ha are having input?
  11. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    You could split the class into ability groups and send a different one out each day with the TA for the mental oral part of the lesson. Some days you will be left with the most and least able so pair them up to do a quiz or similar. Great for revision.

    Mix and match an awful lot. Sometimes work with the least able, sometimes the middling ones, sometimes the more able and rotate your TA in the same way. Sometimes have mixed ability pairs and sometimes mixed ability groups. If you have a lovely class sometimes let them choose who they work with.

    When giving questions in whole class work mention what sort of question it is to get children involved. So things like 'Oooo I want to see everyone's hand up for this one....' will bring back any who have daydreamed. Or 'this is really hard, not sure how many hands I'll see...' kind of lets the least able know you don't mind if they haven't a clue and lets the more able know that it is for them.
  12. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    I watched a year 5 class last year. the teacher used a lot of carpet club time each lesson. So usually taught three or more mini lessons each lesson. so each ability group had input at least every other lesson. It seemed to work very well, there was often teacher input too, but regularly went direct to the groups which allowed the teacher input to be very specifically differentiiated
  13. This is a great idea, especially to keep the gifted and talented children challenged appropriately, I will definitely be using this approach next year - although I will have less of a problem as I am teaching the more able set for Maths.
  14. I sometimes "start from the other end" too, but in a very unique way. In maths my typical sequence is as follows:
    1. I provide the HA group with a very open problem from Nrich that usually requires a good 20 minutes for them to independently digest it, think about strategies and what they already know and attempt some solutions. They usually find it not possible. But I expect them to persevere for the full 20 minutes! And they do.
    2. Whilst the HA group are working on that - I introduce the lesson to the MA group - and include the LA group if the concepts are acessible for them. If not I do number 3.
    3. The LA group work on problems from last lesson in a textbook for 10 minutes. After my 10 minute opener with the MA group and setting the MA group's task, I give 10 minutes instruction to the LA group and set their task.
    4. The HA group have now had 20 minutes of trying to consolidate skills and solve a problem. I guide their thinking and suggest strategies for 10 minutes. I provide similar challenging problems - and ask that these be completed. Sometimes their problem solving carries them into next lesson.
    5. The MA group and LA group have a plenary, whilst the HA group continue problem solving.
    Note: My HA group consisted mostly of very gifted students in math.

  15. I'm sorry, but I think that's a little unfair. The OP didn't say, "I don't know how to do this, do it for me..." - they said they would like to improve their practice and asked for examples of what other people do/pointers/suggestions.
    Yes, some people do post questions which make me wonder how they passed their training or secured a job in such competitive times, but this wasn't such an example.
    I view this forum very much as a learning community. I've just finished my NQT year too and I know that I can learn so much from more experienced teachers, and also from those with the same amount of experience as me, but who have tried different things at different schools with different children.
    Just look at the discussion that has taken place above. People sharing good practice, reflecting, supporting each others' professional development.... I hope I never get to a place where I don't want to do any of these things.
    And as for doctors, my GP often looks at a medical database in front of his patients, to check facts or ideas. He even, shock horror, sometimes goes online to quickly research something in front of his patients. And he is the most fantastic doctor I have ever seen!

  16. teach321

    teach321 New commenter

    In my case (PGCE), unfortunately, not a lot of anything useful that prepared me for "actual teaching".
  17. Having overheard a vet express surprise that cattle had teeth recently, I sincerely hope that no professional exits College/Uni believing they know it all and that they continuously seek to expand and improve thier knowledge.

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