For years I have sat my children in ability groups during English and this is how I was taught to teach. Occasionally, I used mixed ability groups during vocabulary tasks but after watching a colleague teach English using mixed ability groups every session and seeing the results I decided to give it a try.
At first, I was apprehensive and I was right to be, the children took a lot of training in peer collaboration and effective discussion techniques but it was most definitely worth it. I found that after the initial training period around effective feedback and collaboration the discussions that the children had during writing sessions were amazing. Every morning my class were buzzing with excitement about the writing or reading tasks because they could be the teachers and they could encourage and support one another with only a small amount of guidance from me.
I still use differentiation but in a whole new way; a much more subtle way that enables the children, who might have struggled, to engage and succeed in higher-level tasks. In addition, high attaining children get the chance to develop and embed their learning by teaching their peers. I urge you if you haven’t tried ‘mixing it up’ DO!!
This ‘In Brief’ Article was originally printed in the October 2015 Edition of UKEdMagazine.
@thunkingteacher Grimsby, UK- LKS2 and Whole School English Lead