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Extension tasks

Discussion in 'Secondary' started by crusader62, Oct 16, 2018.

  1. crusader62

    crusader62 New commenter

    I have a group of learners with mixed abilities. Some parts of lessons involve the learners copying written information off the whiteboard. Some learners will write a lot faster than others. This leaves them waiting and becoming disengaged whilst waiting for the slower writers to complete. Has anyone got any generic extension strategies to use in this type of scenario?
  2. freckle06

    freckle06 Lead commenter

    Why are they copying off the board? Isn't there an alternative? I have child that cannot track (he's in the bottom 1% of the country according to the centiles) so this would be torture and then he'd play up.

    But to be helpful; give cloze passages to the less able where they choose the correct word: In the Middle Ages, people grew crops such as potatoes/radishes. Then give them some simple questions to complete to check their understanding as they'll then be quicker.

    Challenge tasks for the more able could be relevant to the subject/what they've just written - explain why people choose to migrate to coastal areas. Write an A to Z in the back of your book and write a musical instrument for each (??) or google thunks which will get them thinking.

    Generic depends upon your subject.

    I think you need to consider whether less able pupils need to copy - what are they learning if it's taking all their effort to spell words correctly. They'll look at words (or even letters) in isolation and won't read what they've written anyway.
    phlogiston likes this.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    So fishing around in your profile, I have you pinned as a Science (physics) teacher. Is this correct?
    The best approach to "extension" I ever experienced was departmental, and riding on the back of a clear and simple scheme of work. Every element of the SoW was accompanied by a list of extension tasks, so you just had to consult the list to see what might fit your lesson best.
    I don't work in such a school now, but I have a gold and silver system (in Maths)
    I have 2 large folders for each year group, marked "Gold " and "Silver", basically relating to difficulty. The folders contain generic tasks which the kids can apply to most lessons. Examples are "identify two key words from the lesson objective and write a general definition of them" or "create your own variation of today's problem for a friend to solve". Sometimes they are more specific, eg a text book reference, a "why?" or "why not?"question relating to that lesson etc.
    Another approach to extension would be to provide the whole class with the more difficult tasks, but build in a way of supporting those who will struggle-it depends on the ratio of strong/weak kids in the group I suppose.

    I think your query is a really good one-my feeling is it is extremely common to (unintentionally) fail those kids who require a bit more stretch because we don't let them know at the outset of the lesson that there will be more to do once they have finished. Using the words "Gold" and "Silver" imbue the extension tasks with intrinsic motivation to start the lesson aiming for them. They get to Actually Walk Over To The Folder And Help Themselves, Yay!
    It all takes time, sadly, in preparation. But having an extension task to hand in advance is a game changer for all your lessons, because over time you will find some kids working well because they want to reach that task. The copying off the screen becomes a spring board, rather than the task itself.
    Finally, using the resources section on this website will find you hundreds of excellent specific extension tasks. Recommended!
    tb9605 likes this.
  4. crusader62

    crusader62 New commenter

    Thank you for all for your constructive suggestions
  5. crusader62

    crusader62 New commenter

    They are not copying reams off the board.
    I am working with learners with limited independent learning and research skills. I could dictate to them but this would be no better I appreciate.
    I need them to know certain things, and I need them to know the correct information. I am an engineering teacher not an English teacher. Trust me when I say that I do use a wide variety of teaching strategies. However I am always willing to learn from others best practice Freckle
  6. freckle06

    freckle06 Lead commenter

    To be honest with you, I think dictation would be far worse. We had dictation lessons back in the 1980s, as specific lessons - what was the point of that?!

    I still think copying for some pupils requires so much concentration that they don't actually read what they are writing, so cloze passages that just require them to put in the most important pieces of information. I also do with information where they have a choice of answers to get them thinking. The problem we all have is that we can end up spoon feeding and then they become even less independent - I think this issue is far worse than when I first started teaching.

    Best wishes with your students.
  7. Clarahome

    Clarahome New commenter

    One strategy we use at my school is to give the lower ability students a typed out copy of the meanings for words and then they have to join up the correct word to its meaning, whilst the higher ability students copy from the board. You could also use different colours and ask some students to copy just the basics (In green) and the rest to copy out the full sentence or give them a copy of the slides so they can work at their own pace.
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I'm not going to make any more comments about copying. I agree with the other comments - learning is about what goes in the head, not into the book.
    Generic extension tasks won't get done, they'll come across as "extra work for the sake of it"
    If you're structuring learning via powerpoint, I would think about 2/3 of the screen for the main learning task, then "when the geniuses finish do this" (open ended question or explanation).
    ScienceGuy likes this.
  9. Clarahome

    Clarahome New commenter

    What you said is definitely true, learning is about what goes in the head, not into the book. But some students find that a good way to memorise information is through writing it down and some students will take more time to write so they can absorb the information into their heads. So, I'd suggest making sure that the extension task is not going to be information the slow writers would miss out on.
  10. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    It only goes in the head if they write it in their own words. Copying as a teaching method is not about teaching at all, but about saying you have covered content.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. TonyAllen123456

    TonyAllen123456 New commenter

    For my lower ability/SEND/slower workers I tend to create a crib sheet. It takes me about 5 mins per lesson to copy and paste the essential info from my slides onto a single slide which I print & give to select students or groups of students to glue in. I personally would argue that a more capable student shouldn't be rewarded with extra work (even though you are calling it an extension task). I tend to use a choice of three tasks where possible easy/medium/hard (although some feejut has suggested I need to change it so as not to demoralise certain learners, that's the problem with PE teachers making it to a head's role I suppose). And for the non-Physicists it is essential in some subjects that word for word definitions are learned as well as formulae. Having a student write that in their book is a legitimate way to start to help for them to learn it even if that means copying.
    pepper5 likes this.

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