T&L INSET Tops and Tails

Our Teaching and Learning INSET on Tuesday 4th November was all about sharing ideas for how to ensure all pupils make progress in every lesson – how we differentiate for both the “tops” and the “tails” of our classes.

We used a “Balance Wheel” to help us discuss the strategies we are already using to help us differentiate for pupils in our classes. Staff were asked to give themselves a mark out of ten for how often they used certain strategies in their teaching: use of seating plans; providing model answers; grouping students.  Joining the dots to create a personal balance wheel allowed a quick and informative chance to look at our existing practice.  It helped give confidence in the fact that many of the things we do already are part of differentiation and that differentiation does not mean having to create a different task for each and every student.  Staff considered at each others’ wheels and shared ideas on how they might balance their own.The balance wheel itself is also a useful idea to use with pupils to help them reflect on a variety of areas, personally and in particular subjects.

The next part of the session involved watching a short video clip from the comedy ‘Big School’ (see the powerpoint from the INSET) and then looking at tasks designed for top end and tail end students.  We focussed on practical ideas that could be taken away and used by staff and help them challenge the more able students or allow less able students to access the work and progress.  Staff  chose where they would like to focus their time following the video.  Some chose immediately to go the tail end table and had a go at completing some of the tasks set out (for example a cloze paragraph, card sort and playdoh modelling task designed around the clip).  Other staff went to the top end table and thought about ways they might be able to use a Quality Question grid, or how asking students to ‘wear spectacles’ and view the lesson from someone else’s point of view.  It led to lots of new ideas and discussion about current practice and ideas we might want to trial in our own classrooms.

To summarise the session, staff filled in a ‘Top Hat’ and  a ‘Tail’ outlining other ideas or strategies for differentiation. We’ll include some of the ideas in a later blog post. We then spent some time working on creating our own adapted resources for use in lessons in the coming days.

Staff appreciate the useful format of having time to reflect on what they are already doing (using the balance wheel), share good practice and have time to create new resources.  Many of the ideas are well known and well used strategies, but it is often good to have a quick reminder.