Students bring a variety of passions, interests, frustrations and challenges to the classroom. One of the biggest challenges a teacher can face is ensuring their diverse range of students meet their learning objectives.
The biggest challenge using the lesson plan is the class dynamics. Sometimes, the entire framework is revised depending on the student’s readiness and the observers have to understand this and allow flexibility.
S. Kavita, science teacher, India
Differentiation and planning go hand-in-hand.
Differentiation and inclusion
Creating an inclusive learning environment can be challenging but there are different steps you can take to remove learning barriers ***:
- Assess prior learning – Take time to work out where each of your students are starting from.
- Give a context – Make this first step easier by setting the learning activities in everyday contexts, giving students a context to anchor their knowledge on.
- Break down the learning process – Ensure your activities have broken down the learning process into step-by-step procedures all the students can manage.
- Use their peers – Students often understand each other’s difficulties and can make complex ideas more understandable to one another through peer-to-peer learning.
- Make yourself available – By giving students activities to do you make yourself available to help those who need it and enable you to stretch those who need a challenge.
- Give opportunities for success – If you begin a worksheet with easier questions it will give the students confidence to continue.
- Offer targeted feedback – Offer praise and make it specific to demonstrate how you value their work and help them to develop a belief in their abilities.
- Stay flexible – Don’t be afraid to stop a lesson and resolve problems if students are struggling. Monitoring understanding will help you stay agile, adjust your plans and keep your students with you.
There are many different ways you can differentiate a lesson. One of these following approaches may help you with your students:
- Differentiation by task – Designing different activities for students could involve adjusting the scientific, mathematical, oral or written skills required, how the task is delivered, or the independence given. The task could be graded in difficulty, or the questions varied by Bloom’s taxonomy.
- Differentiation by outcome – This approach helps you avoid unintentionally labelling students as all students have the same task, but they can achieve the outcome in different ways.
- Differentiation by route – Here students work in a group, but different students take different roles, dependent on their strengths.
Having a well-prepared plan, knowing your students and retaining flexibility and agility in the classroom all help to create an environment where every student can learn.
Click the covers below for some suggestions for differentiation in Cambridge IGCSE™ and Cambridge International AS & A Level Biology, Chemistry and Physics practical lessons.