Session 127: What are the most effective uses of differentiation in planning, teaching and assessment?’

Thursday 29th November 2012

Session Title: What are the most effective uses of differentiation in planning, teaching and assessment?’

Date: Thursday 29th November 2012

Summary of the Session:

[pullquote]Differentiation: the art of creating challenging learning opportunities for a range of abilities. #UKEdChat” @MrIanHickman[/pullquote]This week’s topic on differentiation initially led to a debate on what the word ‘differentiation’ actually means. One definition that stood out for me was from @MrIanHickman who suggested that “Differentiation: (is) the art of creating challenging earning opportunities for a range of abilities”.

The discussion was full of differing opinions surrounding the effectiveness of differentiation methods and whether we should even be differentiating lessons at all. Some tweeters were concerned about the time and effort put into differentiating just 1 lesson and the challenges faced by teaching classes with such a variety of needs.

Most of the discussion focused on many great effective uses and methods of differentiation. These included by questioning, the use of different teaching and learning styles, the level of support given to the pupils, differing tasks and activities and the amount of time given to pupils to finish their task.

Assessment was mentioned and how we can use this to set targets based on pupils’ performance. The use of mixed ability groups versus ability groups was discussed with advantages for using both depending on activity or subject. Another important point that was talked about was how our knowledge of our pupils allows us to modify our teaching to enable all pupils to access the lesson or activity at their level.

The word ‘personalisation’ was used many times towards the end of the discussion instead of the term ‘differentiation’. @ePaceonline suggested that “Personalisation (is the) key to effective teaching, just because we teach well doesn’t mean pupils learn well.”

Notable Tweets

  • jonathan peel @mrpeel

@rashush2 because to diff is human nature, regardless of paerwork or preplanned worksheets… #ukedchat

  •  thomas day @day_tom

Final Thought? Differentiation should be something we just do. Should be built into teaching, like questioning. #ukedchat

  •  annahalford @anhalf

#ukedchat differentiation key to successful teaching, range of approaches, questions,actvities,groupings. Stratgies like #TFW & #AFL

  • Ed @Primary_Ed

Differentiation by outcome rather than by ability can prove far more effective. #ukedchat

  •  Ian Hickman @MrIanHickman

Some people seem to think that differentiation is about labelling children. It really isn’t! #AfL #UKEdChat

  •  Rachel Humphrey @rashush2

Diff by outcome sometimes best strategy eg for creative writing (once they can write!) #ukedchat

  •  Richard Willan @rpwillan

@rashush2 Use your brighter students to ‘coach’ your weaker ones #ukedchat

  •  Ed @Primary_Ed

The key to differentiation is knowing the children in your class and what they are capable of achieving. #ukedchat

  •  Matthew. Drama AST @muttleyknight

@oldandrewuk @IamStephReed ideally they can be taught together but with their needs catered for and thought of as individuals #ukedchat

  •  Rachel Humphrey @rashush2

it’s not so much the principle as the time involved.. and the paperwork #ukedchat

  •  Mary Blake @ePaceonline

#ukedchat Personalisation key to effective teaching, just because we teach well doesn’t mean pupils learn well.

  •  andrew cowley @andrew_cowley23

#ukedchat In theory we plan lessons perfectly pitched 30 ways. In practice we would be dead!

  •  Monty Mouse @Monty_Math

#ukedchat. One thing I would question is when teachers differentiate for the sake of it – my personal rule is “”never differentiate blindly””

  •  Mr Place @MrPlaceICT

@kvnmcl @ianaddison #ukedchat Top middle bottom isn’t entirely helpful. Most schools I know differentiate for each sublevel in Lit & Num.

  •  Chris Chivers @ChrisChivers2

All classes are mixed ability, even in setting and streaming. I’d expect to see different expectation of different abilities. #ukedchat

  •  Monty Mouse @Monty_Math

#ukedchat I prefer to think of whether teaching is relevant for children rather than differentiation – respond to individual need …

  •  kevin mc laughlin @kvnmcl

#ukedchat Most call it differentiation others call it teaching. It’s the ‘you must include it on a plan’ that’s nonsense

  •  jonathan peel @mrpeel

diff is in how we question and how we engage, rathe rthan in the provision of several different workshhets for each task #ukedchat


#ukedchat I hate that word differentiation. PERSONALISATION in my view much better. Most important aspect is to plan in progression opps

  •  Mary Blake @ePaceonline

#ukedchat Every class has 30 different pupils all trying to learn the same material in wide variety of ways.

  •  kevin mc laughlin @kvnmcl

#ukedchat Differentiation leads to categorising children as top, middle, bottom, or some strange teacher/school set acronym. Daft.

  •  Matthew. Drama AST @muttleyknight

Differentiation is about allowing all students to access the learning and to make measured progress against the L/O #ukedchat

  •  Miss Smith @HeyMissSmith

Differentiation is about being flexible during the lesson and scaffolding or extending as needed best not planned too much #ukedchat

  •  Anthony Heald @AntHeald

Differentiation subtly done by skilful teachers: neither they nor students are aware it’s happening. Used to be called teaching. #ukedchat

  •  Rebecca Stacey @bekblayton

@IamStephReed encourage chd to explain their understanding and learning, great for getting HA involved, and supports LA too.. #ukedchat

  •  Cherrylkd @cherrylkd

@muttleyknight Me too! I can’t believe teachers still think one size fits all in teaching. #ukedchat

  •  thomas day @day_tom

@Teachric ok, I teach mainly classes of 25 – not to bad to think of 3 ways of learning / outcomes for lesson #ukedchat

  •  Rebecca Stacey @bekblayton

Fact is..How are we ensuring all children achieve? What do we find tricky about making lessons accessible to all? Teaching styles? #ukedchat

  •  Ian Hickman @MrIanHickman

Differentiation: the art of creating challenging learning opportunities for a range of abilities. #UKEdChat

  •  Andy Hassack @AndrewHassack

Have range of tasks/entry points, get pupils to decide, RAG pupils then get greens to support reds, diff/paired/group/independent #ukedchat

  •  Matthew. Drama AST @muttleyknight

I’m amazed at some of these tweets that are against differentiating lessons.. The mind boggles !! #ukedchat

  •  Wonder Academy @Wonderacademy

#ukedchat There is only one true differentiation: differentiation by outcome. Assess outcome and if progress limited,adjust/repeat teaching

  •  Matthew. Drama AST @muttleyknight

Differentiation is about knowing your pupils and using that knowledge to inform your teaching #ukedchat

  •  DHE Solutions @DHESolutionsLtd

@muttleyknight It may be essential but there seems to be a disaffected tone to the discussion tonight – surely something in that? #ukedchat

  •  Craig @C_Farr0w

#ukedchat we get told so many different things as NQT about differentiation. Surely we can do this by pace of learning and support?

  •  Matthew. Drama AST @muttleyknight

Differentiation is essential to lessons, it ensures we are not just teaching to the middle! #ukedchat

  •  davidhunter @davidhunter

#ukedchat rally coach is a good system for ensuring all chd’s needs are meet when teaching maths Operations

  •  Andrew Old @oldandrewuk

#ukedchat What we can’t do is differentiate learning that comes from being taught. Differentiation is the opposite of teaching a class.

  •  Elaine Cheetham @smiley1970

#ukedchat find its impossible to keep all pupils engaged when abilities so varied. Differentiation simply ineffective.

  •  Andrew Old @oldandrewuk

#ukedchat We can differentiate kids teaching themselves or each other. We can differentiate expressing opinions or being creative.

  •  thomas day @day_tom

#ukedchat – A lot of my differentiation comes from marking. I mark work, then set targets based on their performance – diff activities etc

  •  Polly @Paper_Polly

@TonyEmmerson @Super_Work I learned differentiation by task, differentiation by outcome and differentiation by support. Sorted! #ukedchat

  •  Andy Hassack @AndrewHassack

@IamStephReed When it allows the pupils to work at their own pace through Qs/tasks of their own choice #ukedchat #independantlearning

  •  Chris Chivers @ChrisChivers2

Differentiation in planning develops an expectation/hypothesis, which can be tweaked within the learning. #ukedchat

  •  Andrew Old @oldandrewuk

#ukedchat Of course teachers should try to meet the needs of all the students in their classes. However, you cannot differentiate teaching.


Tweet of the Week

  • Ian Hickman @MrIanHickman

Differentiation: the art of creating challenging learning opportunities for a range of abilities. #UKEdChat

About Your Host

My name is Steph (@ASD_Teacher) and I am a Special Needs Teacher teaching in a primary school for children with autistic spectrum disorders in the London borough of Hackney.

My main interests are around autism, communication, inclusion and technology.


UKedchat Session 127

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