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Year 11 Low attainers

Discussion in 'Trainee and student teachers' started by milli_93_x, Sep 22, 2017.

  1. milli_93_x

    milli_93_x New commenter

    Hi everyone,

    I am wondering if anyone has any ideas or advice they would be willing to share about how to ensure a bottom set year 11 can access their lessons?

    Thank you,
  2. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    What do you mean by 'access their lessons' - are the lessons too hard for them you mean? They cannot complete the tasks?

    Look at the GCSE mark scheme - what do they need to be able to do to achieve their targets? What are they able to do now (i.e. what level are they currently on, based on last assessment)? Give tasks based on the wording of the mark scheme.

    E.g. Edexcel GCSE language - to get a 1 for q3 they have to: Comment on the language and/or structure used to achieve effects and influence readers, including use of vocabulary. - So, I might them a task where they simply have to find a simile or metaphor in a short text, or identify a simile or metaphor in a list (e.g. He swims like a fish - simile or metaphor?).

    What I did with my Y10 bottom set last year was give each student a colour (there were 3 colours, based on ability), then have 3 tasks on the board corresponding to the 3 colours - the weakest had something nice and easy (seriously, for my weakest kid, who had some undiagnosed issues, it was something like 'list 3 things you know about Sheila in An Inspector Calls'), the strongest had a nice challenge (with a link to context - 'what might the 1945 audience have thought of Sheila's behaviour?'). They realised what I was doing, of course, but it made the middle kids try harder, and the highest kids feel boosted (which they needed).

    Consider using wording from Bloom's taxonomy (Google if you don't know it) in your tasks - the lower down the scale would relate to easier tasks, while higher up are more challenging. Try them out and find what works.

    Focus on something they're good at, or could achieve. I had a (rock) bottom set Y10 as an NQT - they were plagued with severe SEN issues and poor attitudes (in and out of PRUs some of them) - it was only a small class, so I ended up starting every lesson with an image on the board, and 3 choices: brainstorm some adjectives to describe the image; write a couple of descriptive sentences using similes and metaphors; write the opening of a story, using sensory details. I then gave them points for their work - ultimately they judged each other - and did prizes at the end of every half term. We did it every single lesson, and the image always related to the text we were studying. At the beginning there were terrible, by the end of the year they were amazing and I almost cried in my last lesson with them when one boy wrote that 'Big Ben was on his knees' (WW2 image; war poetry).
    oHelzo, saluki and pepper5 like this.
  3. welshwizard

    welshwizard Established commenter Forum guide

    Hi Melissa you would be better off posting this query in the subject forums to get the best response relevant to what you are teaching them.
  4. oHelzo

    oHelzo Occasional commenter

    Great advice from Blueskydreaming.

    When I was training and in a similar position, someone pointed out to me that I'd never been in a class like that before. After all, most people in teacher training are good degree or above qualified and spent their school days in top sets or thereabouts, rarely a bottom set.

    It takes a lot of adjustment as to things like literacy (variable), attention span (often shorter), transferring skills to other tasks (rare) and critical thinking (opportunities to develop). There were various reasons these weren't working for pupils in these groups and every time we overcame a barrier, it was a triumph for them as well as me.

    I found a lesson style that worked and stuck to it, varying the topic. For example Y11 loved Top Gear for physics and another group a fun introduction followed by 'quiet' study for chemistry and biology - if you find what works for them, many will value the routine and knowing what to expect from your lesson. Also spent my free time observing them in other subjects. What tasks/styles worked and what didn't? Interestingly (or not) I also found a classroom with a door, a smaller class size and plenty of space to spread out helped.
    blueskydreaming likes this.

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