Students of Carmel Secondary School are hardworking, cooperate and respectful. Mastery of basic English is not a problem for most of them. Nonetheless, diversities exist. It is hoped that through the collaboration between School Development Officer of QSIP and the school, learning effectiveness for students with different cognitive and affective development, ability, motivation, aspiration, learning styles, needs and interests could be enhanced.
Teachers of English Language are particularly concerned about the choice of course materials. They are looking for teaching materials that are sufficiently complex for learning and practising higher order skills and pleasantly intriguing to engage students who are not interested in English.
The collaboration aims at the collection, selection and discussion of course materials appropriate to the need, interest and ability of the students and development of strategies for differentiated instruction to cater for learner diversity.
Level: Secondary 4
Topic: Reading Comprehension
- Profiling diversity: Vocabulary inventory for diagnostic purposes
- Tiered learning tasks: Tiered exercise for more able students
- Multi-sensory pedagogical designs:
- 3.1 Visuals to explain cultural differences in houses and flats
- 3.2 Drawing and explanation or comparison by students to cater for different learning styles
- 3.3 Different types of organisers
- Tiered questioning: Different level of questions addressing higher order thinking
- Contingent scaffolding: Provide step-by-step guidance
1. Profiling diversity
- Vocabulary inventory for diagnostic purposes
- To determine how much to teach to whom
- To allow group discussion for the less able students to catch up
- To allow group discussion for the more able students to make active use of the language
2. Tiered learning tasks
- Tiered exercise is also presented. Part Two is more difficult and require research work and the ability to explain multiple means of a word, which is suitable for more bale students.
3. Multi-sensory pedagogical designs
3.1 Use of visuals to address visual learners
- To cater for students’ different learning styles and multiple intelligences, pictures are used to explain cultural differences in living accommodations.
- Most students in Hong Kong live in apartment flats. The features that mark a house is not a familiar idea. Knowing the features is crucial to the understanding of why the narrator is so unhappy about the house on Mango Street. This paves the way to help the students decipher what the author wants to say in the subsequent paragraphs.
- Even when students know all the words, they are not able to get into the shoe of the narrator. Only when they ‘see’ a ‘real’ house, are they able to get into the mind of the narrator and in turn understand the underlining meaning of the English words. Understanding the cultural difference in living accommodations provides the necessary background for appreciation of the author’s craft.
3.2 Drawing by students for display of learning
- Showing their understanding and their talents and using it as a tool for tiered learning, especially for the high ability students
- To catering students’ learning style and multiple intelligence, students draw and explain, and compare their work as a self-reflection and peer-learning event
- Students draw wonderful pictures to show their understanding. To the teacher’s surprise, there were real talents who can (a) draw beautifully, (b) turn words into visuals, (c) explain very well with a picture, (d) use language effectively to explain concepts without any visual help.
Some of the drawings are shown below.
Tiered learning tasks:
- For students who can show understanding by drawing
- For students who can show understanding by drawing and oral explanation
- For students who are good at using words to explain and summarise
3.3 Using graphic organisers for cognitive development and scaffolding
- Different types of organisers are used to help students visualise concepts for intellectual development
- Helping students to build up comparison tables
- The ability to deconstruct a text to get to the main ideas is a skill. Students of different abilities need different kinds of visuals to help them decipher the writer’s work.
- Following on using graphic organisers to tear out the author’s messages from a mass of words, students use the key words to reconstruct a summary to show their understanding.
- For stronger students, they can work on one-sentence summaries or one-minute essays to express their views without going through the deconstruction of the text.
4. Tiered Questioning
- Different levels of questions addressing students with diverse language ability and at the same time helping less able learners to develop higher order skills.
5. Contingent scaffolding
- Sometimes, several graphic organisers, from simple to complex, are used to provide a step-by-step guide to facilitate visual and less able learners to visualise abstract concepts.
- For students who are not too strong in logical reasoning or using the English Language to express logical reasoning.
The collaboration is encouraging. Both the teachers and students were positive about the strategies implemented. Platforms and opportunities were provided for students with different learning abilities and styles to display their learning. Students enjoyed deconstructing the paragraphs by drawing the floor plans as depicted by the author. The aftermath sharing was very welcomed. Even quiet students participated excitedly. The experience was affirming and illuminating.
- Background and objectives
- Lesson design for differentiated instruction
- Application of strategies:
- 1. Profiling diversity
- 2. Tiered learning tasks
- 3. Multi-sensory pedagogical designs
- 4. Tiered questioning
- 5. Contingent scaffolding