a dash of differentiation & a huge helping of peer support

I had a thoroughly enjoyable 16-18 class this week. Gasp, shock, horror I hear you cry. It’s been such a long time since I posted about my bemusement of the younger age group it’s hard to figure out where the time has gone.

So what exactly have I been grappling with? Moody teenagers – check. An unknown curriculum – check. Trialling some new technologies – check. No wonder I’ve had No Brain to write!

I think I finally have a grasp of the (dreadful) PSD portfolio-building assessment & the iPads have taken on a routine-usage. As for the moods – just gotta swing with those.


I recently got two new very beginner students (both from The Congo). Already having a beginner student (from Afghanistan) the pressure was really on to ensure they could access the class meaningfully. I won’t go into the labor intensive failures at differentiating – and just write about what went well this week.

Starting with a quick vocab review/spelling test I had the task differentiated three ways:

1) most students were given pictures of food items that they needed to identify and write (aka a spelling test) This they did in groups of three.

2) the three beginner students had the same pictures but had to match the words.

3) a strong speaker, but very weak reader/writer was given the same pictures but a choice of three words – only one of which was spelt correctly. eg chicken / chken / chikan. He had to circle the correct spelling and then write it.

This vocab then linked to a reading text, which was differentiated with the use of Ask3 on the iPads. Roughly this was differentiated as follows:

1) most students read the texts and answer questions

2) the three beginner students were given the text on Ask3, where they could listen to the text being read out and identify the food words (they’d just been looking at)

3) the strong speaker/weak reader was also given an iPad so he could read/listen but answer the same questions as the other students.

I was very very happy with how this all worked out. Go me. :)

Peer Support

Most classes I try to get the students to help each other in some way or other, with some successes and much grumbling and groaning. All that ‘learner-training’ really paid off this week though, when we had portfolio-building tasks to do. I would say just about every student in the room had something different to work on to get their portfolio up to speed. To say I was dreading it would be an understatement. I was completely expecting the ‘miss’ ‘miss’ ‘miss’ cries & to be run off my feet.

Don’t get me wrong, I was certainly kept busy. But at one point I got to look up & saw everyone working, on task and helping each other. One (quiet but very IT-confident) student who had missed last week completed her final piece of work with absolutely no support from me at all. Her peers told her what to do, and she did it. Beautiful!



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