Adding value to the educational experience of each and every child, whether in a class setting or not, takes some work initially, but that work saves hours and hours of harder work later on. Here’s a five step procedure to guide you through:
1. Take existing class lists, or a list of any group of students to whom you are delivering a subject or something educational.
2. Divide the students into 5 horizontal frames based on your assessment and observation, using whatever guides you need to for your subject as appropriate, in order to tell what your students should be doing at their class and year level.
Frame 1 should contain each student who is finding the subject challenging, and who is struggling with basic concepts
Frame 2 lists the students who are grasping some basics but not the more advanced concepts in the subject
Frame 3 contains the students who are grasping not only the basics but also some advanced concepts (these are the middle range, average capability students).
Frame 4 contains those students who are grasping the more advanced concepts
Frame 5 lists those who find the subject unchallenging, and who therefore need the next level of material.
The image above gives you an idea of what your ‘Frames’ should look like.
3. Work out for your subject, if you haven’t already done so, how you would accurately assess whether a particular student has moved one way or another along these horizontal frames. In other words, using the above made-up example, what exactly does Billy have to accomplish to show that he has moved from Frame 1 to Frame 2?
Notice that these frames are horizontal, not vertical - in other words, though Billy is in Frame 1, he isn’t ‘below’ anyone in any other frame. There’s a reason for that, and it’s very important:
No student, no matter what his or her individual ability is in any given subject at any given time, is ‘better’ or ‘worse’ than any other student.
What these horizontal frames should do is indicate what we need to do to add value to each and every individual student, no matter which frame they are in. The idea is that they move from left to right as much as possible.
For example, using the above table, Billy needs certain actions to help him move from Frame 1 to Frame 2. These are not the same actions that Constance needs to move from Frame 4 to Frame 5.
The frame table effectively breaks down the subject of differentiation into an easy-to-see format. If you place all the students in your class in the correct frame, you will immediately see what needs to occur in your lesson planning, short-term planning and so on to make sure that the entire class gets value added to them individually over a period of time.
Not all students are going to make it to Frame 5. Billy may work really hard and get to Frame 3 by the end of the school year; Thomas, Adela, Bernice and Wendy, already in Frame 3, may work hard and only get to Frame 4. But everyone will have had value added to their education and it will be easy to see it and to show it to parents and others.
Now it can get more magical from there.
Because these same frames will show us where our attention as teachers most usually goes during lessons. From that, we will be able to determine what we need to do to make sure that each student gets what they individually need to progress across to the next frame.
The frames also indicate where students are at in terms of study difficulties.
In Frame 1 we will find the students who are having the most trouble with words. Because this often manifests itself as ‘behavioural problems’, Frame 1 will usually contain the students who are giving us the most trouble as teachers and who are sapping most of our attention. Frame 5, on the other hand, will contain the ‘high-fliers’ - who sometimes get neglected because our attention is drawn to Frame 1 misbehaviour and problems.
These same frames can also be used to indicate the level of activity required to remedy things like boredom or exasperation in any subject - Frames 1 and 2 will most likely need more; Frames 4 and 5 probably less.
Frames will show us as well who finds the subject too fast-paced (Frames 1 and 2) or too slow and shallow (Frames 4 and 5).
In an ideal world, attention should be given to each frame evenly.
Value Added should be a concern in each frame, not just the lower end.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that Frames 4 or 5 never have problems; nor does it mean that Frame 1 will always contain troublemakers. But you will see a pattern with your own classes, guaranteed.
Then you’ll be able to rise above it and strategise to make sure that each and every student gets what he or she needs to progress to the next frame.
That’s Value Added.
Once you have your head somewhat around that, you can move on to plan your delivery fairly and consistently for the whole year.
Note that, if you are designing lessons for any subject, you have to take account of what Frame 1 students may need to really grasp something. You may even need a different approach for a different frame in some cases. That’s because if you put a Frame 1 student and a Frame 5 student on the same actions, the Frame 1 guy will find it a steep gradient, but Frame 5 will find it too shallow.
Frame 3 is your stable measure. A Frame 3 student is someone who gets the basics of a subject relatively easily and can also manage some advanced concepts. They hit an average number of words that they have to look up, can handle a reasonable pace, and need some, but not necessarily a lot, of action. Most lessons should be designed around a Frame 3 student, while making allowances for the other frames.
In a class-based subject, or some part of a subject which doesn’t work well with checksheets, like Art, Drama, Music, some aspects of English Literature and so forth, the frames become a tool for classroom management and differentiation. You can have enormous successes as a teacher by doing some simple things like:
• don’t sit Frame 1 students together in the room - they will more easily trigger off each others’ misbehaviour
• design some stretch work for Frame 5 students that is always on hand in case they race through the work that the rest of the class is doing
• pair up students with others in the same frame to accomplish tasks, rather than ‘mixing frames’. If you mix students together with no regard for the frame structure, you will end up with Frame 4 or 5 students doing all the work while Frame 1 and 2 students mess around
• put together simple glossaries for Frame 1 students
• realise that Frames 1 and 2 will most likely need extra help at some point - plan for it.
You can also do more complex planning and preparation with each frame to ensure that you know exactly what it will take to get movement across the frames: what exactly does Billy need to do before can be considered a Frame 2 student in your subject?
These actions can really assist you in designing and then delivering lessons that are smooth and which add educational value to all.
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