This is a follow up post from Monday, where I wrote about how a change in planning, a shift in expectations, a lot of confidence work and a great deal of self-belief has transformed the learning that takes place in my classroom.
I have many “case studies”- I teach almost 500 students a week. I have gathered pages and pages of “evidence” and tried out many different ideas, tweaks and methods in order to improve my own teaching, but most importantly to improve the skills of my students.
Around three years ago I visited one of our local primary schools to see how work was differentiated there but also what students with low reading ages should be able to do. This was my focus, to help prepare more appropriate work for lower ability learners.
I’ve been back at work just over a year from maternity leave, and have tweaked, tweaked and tweaked my differentiation even more. Currently, I have almost gone full circle back to where I started, but with most students now completing the most challenging tasks rather than most students completing the mid level challenge task.
This is work of one of my Y9 students in September. I teach in mixed ability forms in music. This particular student is a “set 3″ (out of 3) student in set lessons. As you can see he has not answered some questions, used limited vocabulary and is not particularly neat.
This is the same student’s work in November, a different task but we use similar methods for listening to embed the processes and skills into each task so it becomes easier. Sentences with musical vocabulary are developing and in the venue answer, he has justified his choice, although no full sentences there.
The only thing that has changed in this student is HIS belief. He believes he is capable to produce good work and has become more and motivated by his achievements.
Just to highlight once more- the next photo is of one of the most able students in the group. Neither student has instrumental lessons or any other musical input apart from one hour a week in KS3 music lessons.
The hand written task from the first student is the same task as the student above has completed.
When talking to the first student when he (volunteered to) come back in his lunch time, I asked him what had changed to make him want to produce this work. After all, it has to come from them, I can’t physically write it for them. I can give them the tools but I can’t carve their work.
We looked through his book, to the first task. He was appalled. “That’s rubbish, I can’t believe I put so little effort in”. It did make him realise just how good his last piece of work was though, in comparison to his first one. He said he knew he could do it. That is the only difference. He also knew he had the skills and tools to do his best, and he knew if he had difficulties, he was confident enough to overcome them with the help of his newly found resilience, his peers and his ever growing skill base. He went on to say he had been trying harder BMX tricks recently, ones he thought would be too tricky.
“If I fall off my bike, I just try it again. It takes ages to get better but it’s worth trying because it will work one day”.
By expecting more from ALL of my students in ALL tasks has meant that ALL students have raised their game, improved their grades but in my eyes, most importantly improved their skills and confidence.
The rising tide WIL lift all ships. Fact.