# &quot;General Theory of Differentiation&quot;

Discussion in 'Mathematics' started by SMHardy, Apr 21, 2011.

1. ### SMHardy

What is that!??
I have been asked to show how a differentiated lesson I have planned fits into a general theory of differentiation but all I can find is everybody's completely different, unique, conflicting, hairbrained takes on it... nothing 'general' there!
As qualified teachers, do you receive guidelines/instruction on how you are expected to approach differentiation.
More specifically in the secondary school maths area but all info would be very very appreciated. Thank you!!

2. ### ResourceFinder

I know I am just not reading carefully enough but is this a lesson on differentiation

Or is it a lesson and you are looking at how it is adapted for different children

3. ### ResourceFinder

If the latter does this help?

4. ### Betamale

No, it means in terms of differentiation by outcome, by task, by resources and so on
Its all very complex you know!

5. ### SMHardy

I'm looking for what guidelines the authorities give to secondary teachers re:differetiating lessons to address pupils of all different attainment levels and learning preferences.

6. ### ResourceFinder

No such thing

7. ### florapost

some of it is real, some of it is imaginary?

Genius, FP!

9. ### Betamale

i, thats true. Im sure there is some logic behind it. Its just hard to believe its a rational one when you have it rammed down your thought on every INSET day. My argument has never been has never been in the positive direction on the matter and I make my thoughts real plane. In fact is usually so dull I sit there in the land of ZZZZZZZZzzzzzzzz's when its being delivered.

10. ### SMHardy

Damn it! It seems to be quite the elusive subject!
Where did the 'by outcome, by task, by resources and so on' come from Betamale?
I've seen some people on here say there school insists they address at least 3 attainment levels, setting 3 different tasks... except the pupils have to choose for themselves which task they do...? It seems very complicated - needless to say I'm currently struggling with a complex analysis class at university just now!!

11. ### ResourceFinder

Did you look at the link I gave?

12. ### bombaysapphireStar commenter

My understanding of this is that the objective is split down into:
All will be able to ....
Most will be able to ......
Some will be able to .......
Not as complicated as it sounds!

13. ### florapost

morning betamale

14. ### Betamale

Seems not by the response
Here is another which may provide ome more explicit info
http://fiendishlyclever.com/tag/teaching
Different time zone for a while, at least until the Royal <strike>sham</strike> Wedding is over.

envy!!

16. ### MasterMaths

As a trainee teacher myself, my advice is don't overcomplicate it! You will be told by some people in ivory towers that differentiation is key to teaching and they are right - but breathing is central to living and you don't need to show a detailed action plan to your GP to convince him that you know how to do it.
I've had run ins with trainers saying that my differentiation isn't clear enough in my plans; that I don't clearly state (by name) which pupils I expect to work at which level, I don't explain how I will identify pupils who need extra support and/or extension work, that the KS levels aren't apparent in the plans, I don't tell pupils their personalised learning outcomes and I don't list the order of verbal questions (word for word!) to ensure suffecient scaffolding.
I've invited these experts to come see me teach with the understanding that I will happily discuss their concerns if they still exist after having the seen the lesson which they think is "underplanned". I've not had to have one of those conversations yet!
If you are a paperwork junkie then, yes, you will want to show in great detail what you are planning to do in terms of differentiaion (not just "what" but who, why, when and how too!). Otherwise, you simply need to know in your own mind that you have different sets of questions for different ability levels, you know how to simplify/scaffold the work, you know different ways of explaining/showing/modelling the techniques you are teaching if the first approach didn't work.
In terms of a "general theory", I think that there are 3 schools of thought.
1 - teach to the top and pull the lower pupils up through extra support and/or more gradual ramping. Great for more discursive subjects*, but difficult for a subject like maths
2 - teach to the middle (the "most" in the "all, most, some" approach mentioned earlier) with extension work for the higher abilities and simplification work for the lower end.
3 - let pupils decide for themselves.
I go for a combination of 2 and 3 - which is quite common (I think - but I'm mere GTP teacher so can't speak for everyone)

* I'm not saying that maths can't be taught/learned in a discursive manner - just that the content isn't discursive in itself, rather than, say, Citizenship or English Lit.

17. ### Betamale

Paul
I think on many many points you are right and quite switched on this early on in a teacher training program. My one bit of advice is to siply tick boxes. I am 100% behind you on the outlook but remember people who train teachers are those who dont have to teach anymore and just talk a good race (very often).
They just want to be Ofsted and SLT cool when in reality its all rubbish.
Differentiation in my true view is 10 sets in a year and people fit in where their ability/effort takes them.Differentiate by set. If the pupils have true SENs then they will be catered for. Top kids top set, low ability low sets. If they want to be an audiotory learner they can in their own time and if they want to touch everything, again in their own time.
Differentiate by making the first 20 out of 100 questions on the board accesible to all gradually getting harder to the 100th where the top kids are extended.
I assure you the vast majority of teachers only differentiate through fear of SLT rather than desire

18. ### brookes

For me differentiation is about putting extra thought and preparation in to the lesson to ensure that all students are appropriately challenged and able to learn. So I'll plan my lesson and then think about the three really bright kids - are they adequately challenged? I'll think about the two fidgety boys - am I expecting them to sit still and listen for too long? I'll think about the lass who lacks confidence - how will I reassure her? Sometimes I'll do this as I'm planning a sequence of lessons, sometimes I'll do this as they're walking in to the room. With colleagues, including trainee teachers, if differentiation is something we're developing, I believe it's appropriate to expect such considerations written down in the lesson plan.

19. ### ChazetteNew commenter

I hope this is sarcasm?
I'm a PGCE maths student coming to the end of the course. I too got panned for not writing exactly how im differentiating in my plans, yet after watching my lessons this was no longer mentioned.
Differentiation for me is making sure that your not teaching one way for one level and forgetting all else. Pupils learn different ways and its wrong to think that only one method will be satisfactory for all. I try to mix up resources in lessons to appeal to this (i.e. match cards, group work, worksheets, videos) thus engaging all members of the class at some point during a topic.
I create my own worksheets too with different parts, A,B and C and let pupils choose where they start. Then if i see they chose the easy option (like a few of mine do), I can push them on and up.
One style of learning would be boring not only for the pupils but for the yourself too!

20. ### Betamale

I got that far.
Feel free to throw your 2p in when you are 5-10 years into a career, doing 20-22 lessons a week, week in, week out and are accountable for classes, their results and development and then I will listen to you.
Well done though, you avoided the VAK sales pitch, that is worth something.