Great Video – exploring…”Successful Learners for a (Sustainable) World Community”?!

Education for a Sustainable Future

As is often the case… a lot of ideas are not new…. A great critical analyses of what is considered socially relevant in a new education system which brings out the most potential in all of humanity. Love the “societal goals for education” – this is vital for the health of society, but not only is it not explicit – I doubt we often discuss this – certainly I have not seen it in many school “core values”. Many teachers globally create that many boundaries or lower order thinking activities with black and white answers, that not only is critical thinking not a focus for development, it is possibly discouraged. Many of us feel the frustrations outlined. Maybe it is time we take collective action to lobby our politicians (possibly through our Union) for some real change!!!….

A great video for some holiday viewing. Admittedly a fair amount of stereotyping… but good overview and critical ideas. Please leave comments below.

Have a great holiday!!!

Why is differentiation so difficult?

I think one reason it is hard for us to differentiate the learning in our class is our well ingrained idea of teacher control. The only real way to have every student engaged is to have each student doing something that is relevant and meaningful to them – which necessarily means everyone doing something different. A lot of the curriculum we have to work with as well as our long held habits make it difficult to do this. If we think that differentiation means the teacher having to design more than one program, this means that designing 3 tasks would do a better job than just one, but to do it properly we would all have to design 25 different tasks and then do this in 5 different classes! I’m pretty sure there’s no teacher on the planet who can design, implement and assess 100+ programs! If we think like this, we will always think that differentiation is a noble ideal but way to time consuming to actually do.

As difficult as it is to let go, the only solution to this is greater student choice and greater student control. This can be difficult to accept, particularly when our experiences with many students suggest they wouldn’t be able to handle this responsibility very well. It would also involve incorporating new technologies that make it easier to find out where students are at and give feedback, as the common model of students completing work, handing it in, the teacher marking it and then handing it back is way too time consuming and labour intensive.

I love the first suggestion in the document about differentiating by outcome. If we can have a common process outcome, like “everyone will produce a video about ‘x’, ‘y’ and ‘z’ that is better than their last one” the same resources and general instructions can be provided but each kid is doing something aimed at their own level. If there was a rubric that described what a great video, or a great project looked like, each will come in to the project having assessed their previous work and knowing what they are trying to achieve this time – every student is working on something different to achieve the same thing – at the level that is appropriate to them. This would be impossible if we were designing all these programs ourselves. In this paradigm, students also become at least partially responsible for the feedback side of things.

Once we start working like this our main focus becomes how to we give feedback and assistance in real time instead of how do we teach the information. At the moment the biggest concern people typically have with change is the time it takes to do it, as we are all under the pump. These ideas are important as allow us to work smarter instead of harder.

Welcome any comments.

Talking about Differentiation

Differentiation-“Taking the Scenic Route”

In the Handbook for the Inspection of Schools published by OFSTED, differentiation is defined as:

 “The matching of work to the differing capabilities of individuals or groups of pupils in order to extend their learning.”

Whether a class is setted or mixed ability, it will have a range of different abilities. In their published reports OFSTED have made it clear that differentiation involves recognising the variety of individual needs within a class, planning to meet those needs, providing appropriate delivery and evaluating the effectiveness of the activities in order to maximise the achievements of individual students.

1. Differentiation By Objective

The same general lesson objective but more specific targets ie

“By the end of the lesson:

ALL of you will…………

Most of you will……….

SOME of you will……..

2. Differentiation by Content

The pupils study different materials within the same topic area but do the same activities.

3. Differentiation by Activities

The pupils study the same content but do different activities.

4. Differentiation by Negotiation

The pupils study different materials within the same topic area and also do different activities. Teachers help pupils to select appropriate materials.

5. Differentiation by Support*

The pupils study the same materials, do the same activities, but receive different amounts of support from the teacher or from extra printed information.

6. Differentiation by Extension*

The pupils study the same materials and do the same activities. Extension work is given to the most able after they have finished the basic activities.

7. Differentiation by Response*

The pupils are set open-ended assignments that can be interpreted at different levels.

8. Differentiation by Group Work

The pupils work in mixed ability groups. Pupils help each other by working together and interpreting the tasks at different levels.

9. Differentiation by Gradation*

The pupils are given the same information and activities. The activities become progressively more difficult. The pupils work through the activities at different rates and therefore only the more able do the more difficult tasks.

10. Differentiation by Role

The pupils carry out different activities depending on the role they are playing in a simulation. The roles are matched to the abilities, aptitudes and needs of the pupil.

Another Viewpoint:

Four Ways to Differentiate

Differentiation can occur in the content, process, product or environment in the classroom.

1. Differentiating the Content/Topic

Content can be described as the knowledge, skills and attitudes we want children to learn. Differentiating content requires that students are pre-tested so the teacher can identify the students who do not require direct instruction. Students demonstrating understanding of the concept can skip the instruction step and proceed to apply the concepts to the task of solving a problem. This strategy is often referred to as compacting the curriculum. Another way to differentiate content is simply to permit the apt student to accelerate their rate of progress. They can work ahead independently on some projects, i.e. they cover the content faster than their peers.

2. Differentiating the Process/Activities

Differentiating the processes means varying learning activities or strategies to provide appropriate methods for students to explore the concepts. It is important to give students alternative paths to manipulate the ideas embedded within the concept. For example students may use graphic organisers (maps, diagrams or charts etc) to display their comprehension of concepts covered. Varying the complexity of the graphic organizer can very effectively facilitate differing levels of cognitive processing for students of differing ability.

3. Differentiating the Product

Differentiating the product means varying the complexity of “the product” that students create to demonstrate mastery of the concepts. Students working at a lower level may have reduced performance expectations, while students at a higher level may be asked to produce work that requires more complex or more advanced thinking.

4. Differentiating by Manipulating the Environment or Through Accommodating Individual Learning Styles

Even though this approach looks at learning styles in vastly different ways they all have merit for some children. However, an amalgamation or blending of these concepts is probably more effective than any one approach.

To include:

  • change the lighting or sound levels, to eliminate visual distracters
  • provide a more casual seating arrangement
  • Varying teaching strategies makes sure that students will occasionally learn in a manner compatible with their own learning preference



Don’t want to feed the hype – especially since we should not make too much fun of the situation in respect for our Kiwi neighbours and others who have been traumatised by “serious quakes” -(UN Infographic that came out this week)…. BUT…

It was a great demonstration of the power of “Connecting“.  At the moment, as explained in my previous post “Digital Pedagogy – Let’s Go!!! Join us!!!” our P&D group are looking at the Connecting strategy.  One way to “plug in” is Twitter! Man did it go off!!!! Within 2 minutes (after talking to the neighbours and confirming  that it was not just my house) I learnt it was felt far and wide – 400k?  Within 10 minutes people had roamed the web and found on the European-Mediterranean Seismological Centre that it was of magnitude 5.2 11km from Moe-Yallourn…  Jokes were plentiful and even I saw news from familiar people…  about 20-30 minutes later news was starting to filter to main media sites – newspaper then television!

The steady stream of information was informative, relevant, up to date… and exactly what I imagine I would need, especially if this was a real disaster / greater magnitude…  …are our kids/parents connected?

Was there a similar stream of news and info elsewhere? facebook? g+?  Please share your thoughts…

Global view

PS – I am about to start a Global Health Unit with my VCE class – on the day Rio +20 starts!!! How perfect – will do my best to “connect” students:‬

#Riodialogues,, @unisdr, @VicHealth…