For me, differentiation is, and remains, an area of teaching that I don't think I ever get completely right all of the time. This is partly due to the fact that the needs and abilities of the students each year are ever changing. (For example, I am teaching a Year 7 Drama group with a range of reading ages from 5-15).
Let me explain my Year 10 German group to you, if you don't mind...
There are 15 students.
10 students studied French in Year 7, then studied German in years 8 and 9.
4 students studied German in Year 7, then studied French in years 8 and 9.
1 student studied French in Years 7 and 8, then studied German in year 9.
(Only since I have been at the school will students in KS3 be studying just the one language, in the hope that the foundation and knowledge they have will be greater!)
I started teaching them this term, because of the tempestuous staffing issues of last term. To add to the complexity of the matter, out of the 6 lessons they have German, they have me 3 times and a non-German speaker for 3 lessons, as they are on at the same time as my Year 11s, so I couldn't swap.
Differentiation is, therefore, a huge part of how I teach them. I have trialled my 'colours' approach with my amazing year 8 group, and it really works, certainly from a planning point of view.
So this is what I am doing.
1. Based on class work and past papers, I assessed them in all 4 skills just before Christmas, as a baseline for the rest of the course.
2. I have split the students into 3 groups for each of the 4 skills, based on their ability and performances in the tests and coursework. You can see by the picture below that most students have strengths and weaknesses.
Green = E/F/G
Orange = D
Purple = C
3. The students now know which group they are in for each skill, and they know who to sit with for the different types of tasks, depending on my instruction and on the task. They also have stickers on their books, so they know without having to remember!
4. For tasks that require differentiation, the resources or instructions are then colour-coded, so the students know which part to do. Below is an example of a listening task we did, and each student did the task that was relevant to their colour. It is also a good opportunity to create questions in exam-paper style.
It is an easy way to manage both mixed and ability groups, and it is an easy way to plan. The kids now no longer accuse me of being racist when I say "Right, get into your colour groups."...!!!!!
And I love colours! There may be a blog soon that doesn't centre around colours. But until that, paint me up, buttercup!!