Learner diversity within classes has been a challenge faced by the English teachers of this school. In view of the school’s contexts, the teachers’ different concerns and the students’ learning interests and readiness, School Development Officer (SDO) of QSIP and teachers collaboratively designed learner-centred activities that enabled the learning contents to be delivered through multiple sensory channels including visual, auditory, musical, kinesthetic and tactile (Blomert & Froyen, 2010; Gardner & Hatch 1989; Kroonenberg, 1990; Tomlinson, 1999). The collaboration aimed not only at helping the students to process the learning contents separately through the different channels but also facilitating their brains to create the interactivity between the different teaching modes, which essentially increases the efficiency to absorb and retain information (Paivio, 2006). Moreover, the learning products were also differentiated to provide the students with the opportunity to work on the same topics, but at different levels of proficiency.
Level: Primary 2
Topic: At the playground
- Tiered learning goals
- Multi-sensory pedagogical designs
- Tiered learning tasks / worksheets
1. Tiered learning goals
- Set individual learning goals according to students’ prior knowledge and skills in vocabulary learning, even their motivation and attitude towards learning English.
- Less able and motivated learners: recognise most of the target words.
- Average learners (even the less able but motivated learners): recognise all target words and to pronounce, spell and apply most of them to a given context.
- Strong/Keen learners: pronounce, spell and apply all the target words to a wider range of contexts.
- Guide students to provide sentence-level responses whenever possible.
- Make student practise reading aloud not just individual words but also short sentences, even when teaching lower primary students.
- Strengthen speaking fluency training through conducting substitution drills. (A substitution drill is a classroom technique used to practise new language. It involves the teacher first modelling a word or a sentence and the learners repeating it. The teacher then substitutes one or more key words, or changes the prompt, and the learners say the new structure (Harmer, 1987; Robertson & Acklam, 2000)).
2. Multi-sensory pedagogical designs
- Teach the names of playground facilities by using different resources
- Visual channel:
- Design flashcards and PPT slides on which the pictures and graphics are displayed to assist students in associating the words with the concrete objects.
- Print consonants using a different colour to help students read the word using the phonics knowledge acquired in Primary 1.
- Visual channel:
- Auditory channel:
- Read aloud the target words with an exaggerated voice to let students hear the word stress and articulation and then model on.
- Teacher describes the playground facilities using an exaggerated voice and body movements; students guess the words. Students, especially the strong/keen students, may learn the English definition of each word at the same time. For example:
|a roundabout||It goes round and round. Children can ride on it.|
|a seesaw||Children sit on each end of a long piece of board and go up and down on it.|
- Kinesthetic channel:
- Enable students to mime according to the word meaning and clap to the stressed syllables while practising reading the target words in order to reinforce their memory of word meaning and pronunciation.
- Musical channel:
- Write vocabulary chants (Graham, 2000).
- Tactile channel:
- Teach words using the realia whenever possible. Have students touch the object while learning a noun, even an adjective (e.g. hot, cold). Assign students to repeat the target word, or a short sentence consisting of the target word, a few times.
A teacher is inviting her students to touch a wet towel while teaching the adjective, ‘wet’. She is holding the towel in one hand and the sentence strip written “The towel is wet.” in another hand.
3. Tiered learning tasks/worksheets
- Design differentiated assessment tasks to provide students with the opportunity to work on the same topics, but at different levels of proficiency.
- Assign at least one end-of-lesson assessment task to let students demonstrate their learning and to monitor student progress at the same time.
- Encourage students of diverse abilities to apply the newly learned vocabulary using questions of different levels
|Less able learner||Which of these things in the park are hard, soft, hot and cold? Can you match them with the words?
The sun, a flower, a seesaw or an ice-cream
|Average learner||What are hard, soft, hot and cold in the park? Give your answers in complete sentences. For example,
The __________ is hard.
The ________ and _______ are soft.
|Strong learner||Make sentences using the adjectives you have learned today. Write 3 sentences using the park words and more sentences using any words you know.|
- Produce graded worksheets written with different prompts to cater for learner diversity.
In general, student participation in class increased when a wide variety of learning activity types were used. The students of diverse abilities demonstrated greater learning interest. The assigned tasks were completed with stronger motivation and more conscious effort. More capable students were challenged to achieve higher level speaking and writing tasks that enhanced spelling and sentence making skills.
Blomert, L., & Froyen, D. (2010). Multi-sensory learning and learning to read. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 77(3), 195-204.
Gardner, H., & Hatch, T. (1989). Multiple intelligences go to school: Educational implications of the theory of multiple intelligences. Educational Reader, 18(8), 4-10.
Graham, C. (2000). Jazz chants old and new. Oxford University Press; 2nd edition.
Harmer, J. (1987). Teaching and learning grammar. New York: Longman.
Kroonenberg, N. (1995). Meeting language learners’ sensory-learningstyle preferences. In J. M. Reid (Ed.), Learning styles in the ESUEFL classroom. (pp. 74-86). Boston: Heinle and Heinle.
Paivio, A. (2006). Dual coding theory and education. Draft chapter for the conference on “Pathways to Literacy Achievement for High Poverty Children,” The University of Michigan School of Education, September 29-October 1, 2006. Recuperado el, 7.
Robertson, C., & Acklam, C. (2000). Action plan for teachers: A guide to teaching English. British Broadcasting Corporation.
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.