Sunday, 1 February 2015

Using Socrative and iPads to Differentiate

Back in November, I blogged about how I used socrative to assess a Year 9 class' ability to use different types of punctuation (at the start of a unit on creative writing).  I wanted to take this opportunity to now go into a bit more detail on how I used this data effectively.

When I did the punctuation quiz with my Year 9 class, it was apparent that I had a real challenge on my hands.  I'm used to differentiating for a range of abilities anyway, as I teach mixed ability classes at KS3 and KS4, but this brief assessment highlighted the special need for this when covering punctuation with my Year 9s. Clearly, a lesson on apostrophes was not going to be needed; a lesson on the use of semi-colons would also not be beneficial for those who needed to first focus on speech marks.

Instead, I used the results of the quiz (along with a pre-booked set of ipads) to create a series of lessons where students would be able to address their individual needs.  In these lessons, they were grouped according to their test results in two main phases.

The the first lesson (phase one) I had two groups of students working independently on iPads.  Their task was firstly to access guides on a specific type of punctuation (links to which were given on QR codes). After taking notes on the rules for that piece of punctuation, they then had to create a lesson, complete with resources, to teach to another student.  Another group worked with me: I worked with them to revise the use of speech marks, using mini whiteboard to assess their knowledge before they then wrote a piece and labelled the various rules for punctuating speech that were at work.  Lastly, I had one student who had managed to get 100% on punctuation use, though I was aware that his range of vocabulary needed work. Again, he was given an iPad and QR codes to access; his task was to find out how GCSE students needed to vary vocabulary in their work and create a lesson to teach other students.

Phase two (the second lesson) involved me taking more of a back seat.  Students who had worked with me the previous lesson were grouped with those who had planned lessons in the first phase- they were taught by their peers whilst I went around and tested their teaching, by checking the understanding of their 'students' through verbal questioning.  This lesson then ended with all students writing a description of a scene, using the knowledge they had gained over these lessons.

Overall, I found the experience really exciting, since I noticed the students really taking ownership over their own learning and the learning of others.  The QR codes have also proved useful after the session as my KS4 students have stuck them into planners and use them as a revision aid for writing exams/assessments.  The peer teaching was also beneficial, as I noted how some students had chosen to tackle the problem in ways that I had not thought of myself. One of these was the image of an apostrophe verbally apologising for the absence of a missing letter (thus reminding students of where to put an apostrophe used for omission).  

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