Monday, February 18, 2013

Differentiation and The Split Classroom

I have the unfortunate task of teaching two classes two completely separate subjects at the same time.  The size of our school and the ESL population we serve means that my Grade 9 and 10 English courses are each split into an Academic (higher understanding) stream and an Applied (lower understanding) stream.  In an elementary classroom, split classes are difficult (I can imagine anyway).  In high school class it can be very challenging.

Marina Mall - Kuwait
The only sane way that I can cope with this situation is to construct units that contain very similar core components.  For instance, we are studying non-fiction in Grade 9 right now and much of the day-to-day lessons are very similar.  I focus on a question of inquiry during my units, and everything we do relates back to that question.  The daily lessons are built around getting the students to work for their understanding, but the activities (and the other ways they get to this understanding) are separated for stream.

Managing two classes in one room can be a bit of a nightmare, but I often try and stagger their activities or assignments so that I can introduce a concept or activity to one stream while the other is finishing something else up.  This doesn't always work the way I want it to, and occasionally I have some students staring wide-eyed at me waiting for instructions.  This is where Crafting comes into play.  Students that finish their stream's activity quickly can independently work on their own learning through my Crafting program.
Marina Mall - Kuwait

The staggering works reasonably well, and I always try to start my lessons (unless there is carry-over from the previous day) with whole class instruction and inquiry.  This lets kids in either stream work at answering questions or giving opinions on the topics being covered, and the whole class can work with and learn from each other.  The differentiation comes when they start on stream appropriate activities or tasks.  Due to a huge difference in abilities, I try to differentiate the task within a stream as well.

In practice, it has worked well with a few bumps along the way.  One of the biggest challenges is simply keeping all of the tasks straight in my head.  It is very easy to get some of the jumbled!  My marking sheets are a bit of a mess, but it is a mess that makes sense to I guess that's what counts.

And...finally...the pictures above were taken at Marina Mall, here in Kuwait.  It is one of the few nice outdoor areas here.

No comments:

Post a Comment