Catering for diversity of students' learning abilities in today's learning environment

 Schools have blended  learning and created programs to maximise student engagement and learning outcomes.
Lanella Sweet
Sep 11, 2020
Different approaches for different ability levels needed

Meet the diverse learning needs of all students
It is extremely important that educators are allowing for the diverse learning needs of the students in this new online environment. Programs that will involve asynchronous and synchronous learning in a blended approach need to be considered for all individuals. From those students who may struggle and therefore need extra scaffolding to those individuals who excel and may require extension need to be considered to maximise learning success. When supporting all students, the following strategies can be taken into consideration:

  • Use a variety of instructional methods to deliver the content to students. There could be various tool kits set up for students to re-visit in their own time on their various learning platforms and devices.
  • Offer a range of options for students to present their learning and findings as an individual or group. Options for non-screen or screen presentations can encourage creative, academic, critical thinking and many other diverse ranges of skills for students being able to express themselves.
  • Allow some student driven tasks to be used which will enable students to take control and ownership of their learning. Students are more motivated if they are central to the learning experience. These engagements might be open-ended which will promote multiple outcomes and solutions to the learning.
  • Provided targeted support for those in need. Apply confident building to assist students to feel successful at completing tasks. Some students may require targeted intervention.
  • Offer mastered options for those students who have successfully understood concepts and content. Allow these students to be adequately challenged in order to feel motivated and engaged. Listening to student voice and providing authentic opportunities for student agency will enhance the passion and interest of those more able students.

Know where the students are at in remote learning and support for those in need
When working with students in this remote learning environment it is essential to get to know them as individuals. Taking some appropriate time to touch base with them individually and provide the necessary feedback to all students will assist with planning and allow the students to successfully work at their appropriate stage of learning. Ensuring a personalised learning and feedback loop is viewed as essential within the learning environment, will ensure decision making regarding next steps and further learning stages are accessible and successful for allowing specific learning of concepts, skills, and application to occur. Open engaging and authentic conversations with students about their own learning and the scaffolding of concepts along with targeted skills for those in need is essential to enable all teachers to listen to students and allow learners to access the curriculum accordingly. If relevant and meaningful curriculum offerings are to be made to students, then it is appropriate to move beyond the question of why students must speak but to consider how students’ engagement in the construction of their own schooling experiences might be made more explicit.

Student self decision making extension for students
Some students may enjoy the live lessons, watching the teacher present and involve themselves in class discussions on their own terms, participate in collaboration, planning and feedback. Some students may then need to be adequately challenged, rather than just repeat more time on concepts that they have previously mastered. Engaging opportunities to assist these learners to thrive by offering inquiry based, open ended engagements where students would be taking the skills, concepts, new content and make this personally relevant moving through their own level of discovery and curiosity. More time for them examine themselves as individuals allowed them to become absorbed in the mastery of skills. Such experiences displayed how capable students are of providing rich, nuanced accounts of their own learning experience.

Enable students to demonstrate their knowledge in different forms
Celebrating the different ways in which individual students present their knowledge, is something that can be highlighted during remote learning. Due to the lockdown, students have extra time and space when learning at home in their own environment. They can set themselves up to successfully extend on and make the most of their asynchronous learning time to display knowledge and present their journey in a variety of formats. Some students may feel more comfortable delivering a previously recorded speech to the class to demonstrate understandings and skills learnt. Other students may form a written academic piece of work outlining different perspectives of the skills and knowledge formed through their own learning. Creative students may build visual representation, which reflects the learning in a more visual or kinaesthetic manner. Remembering that all students can express themselves in different ways is more important than ever, during remote learning.

By reflecting and observing the differences in students’ learning capacity, capabilities and learning styles, teachers can strive to provide opportunities for all students to be attentive and open with one another in the remote setting. Thus, proving a mutual understanding and promoting individual differences. Successfully engaged students are likely to reflect and appreciate their learning opportunities to use initiative, goal set, self-monitor, at their own zone of potential development. The remote learning experience has taught them to encourage and enable future authentic academic outcomes which are specific to where they are as an individual learner. Students and teachers can successfully monitor the specific personal learning for individuals within a mutually respected environment and have the scope and diversity to maximise academic engagement and outcomes.

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