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NE702 Differentiation for learning
Transcript: responsive teaching
Audio extract from Q&A session with Prof. Dylan Wiliam and Prof. Chris Harrison
for Differentiation for Learning, recorded 11 February 2020.
CHRIS HARRISON: Differentiation is not doing one to one tuition to all 30 children
in your class. What differentiation is doing good diagnostic assessments as you're
going through, whether that's questions that you ask, which is observation as
children are doing their work, and then making decisions the lessons coming up of
what you need to do to keep things flowing so that children are actually
challenged by the work that's coming up. By challenge, I mean challenged by the
science ideas, not challenge by accessing it.
So it's planning for those children who maybe struggling with that topic. Maybe
that particular topic is not familiar to them either because they've not done a lot of
it before in their previous schooling, or maybe just their everyday lives have
actually not allowed them to come across some of those ideas.
If you take them to topics like say conservation and ecosystems, and so on, some
children are really interested in that. And they've actually research a lot on the
internet and know an awful lot. Of the children don't know some of the words on
there or haven't really got an idea what global warming is, or is it the same or is it
different to let's say something like pollution. Is pollution and global warming the
same thing?
And so it's actually trying to grasp where they're at in their learning. The whole
thing we have beyond assessment really, where are they in the learning? What
are the problems that's actually stopping them moving forward? What can I do for
those particular kids or that group kids in order to actually help them move forward
with it?
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So it's responsive teaching. So only respond when you need to. Don't plan but all
the kids doing something different. Plan for maybe one or two things that you
might do in that next lesson to support this group or those three children, or
maybe just to work generally on one particular aspect like you've found that a lot
of them are having difficulty doing scales on the graphs.
And maybe you'll start to might be doing something where everyone just does a
quick scaling on the graph. And you can then ascertain whether the kids you think
have got you really have got it so that's going to move on. And then one or two,
you know that in the lesson you're going to either have to pair them up with other
children who can do that, or you're going to have to go around and work with
groups on it.
So it's not making it too difficult for yourself and doing a lot of planning in advance.
Think in once about what's going to happen, but you don't necessarily have to do
lots of individual resources. And I think that then sort of lowers the workload to
some extent.
DYLAN WILIAM: I think the crucial thing is that's the most important concept in
educational improvement is opportunity cost. So every hour that a teacher spends
producing three different lessons in the same group is an hour they don't spend on
anything else. So we need to think about, is the extra time that teacher’s spending
producing improvements in learning, and is there another use of that time that
could have been even more productive for the students?
I think as long as we think about what opportunity cost, what else could the
teacher have done with the time they spent planning differentiated lessons, for
example, then I think we make smart decisions. But everything has a cost. The
teachers don't have any more hours in the day. The question is, is there a better
use of this time that would lead to more student learning.
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