You all know I’m passionate about inclusion and that means including pupils who are more able in certain areas. It’s something that we all need to be aware of in the classroom as such pupils need to be challenged there’s nothing worse than being bored. But how to do it? Where do you start? I have a number of things I like to use; some free, some not, but the trick is to keep them interested. Here are a few ideas that you might be able to use in your classroom.
- The Challenge Box…: I have two special boxes in my room. They are undeniably spangley and a little OTT. They are called challenge boxes: one small (for Foundation Phase challenges) and one large (for KS2). Inside there are a range of colour-coded cards (different colours for different skill levels) that have ‘one off’ challenges on them. I also have a couple of additional cards hanging up in poly-pockets, for quick challenges. Anyway, if a child finds a task too easy or finishes it quickly I always have a few meaningful extensions planned. If there is still time in the lesson and they have completed all tasks I will direct them to take a card of whatever colour from the box. The challenges will always relate to skills we have covered before – they are just independent tasks to get them thinking. For example…
- It’s a mystery: Regularly, particularly if there is something happening in the world that I think needs investigating (like the World Cup, World Book Day etc), I will come up with a set of mystery challenges (usually 5 or 6) which I place in sealed envelopes. In each set there’s usually a challenge linked to Science, Geography, History, Literacy, Mathematics and local (i.e. Welsh or British) interest. There are some examples of these challenges here and one of the important things I feel is that I am sourcing a number of the resource – this cuts down on the children wasting time looking for relevant stuff. These sessions challenge all pupils and sometimes work better when pupils are split into pairs or small groups but that’s up to you.
- Show them something cool: with younger pupils who are more able it’s nice sometimes to show them something extra a program can do and let them share it with their classmates (or other teachers) during a plenary session or back in class. It’s nice to feel special and kids love that you’re sharing a piece of added information just with them 🙂
- Give them choices: let the pupils choose the best way to complete their task. I love planning activities for pupils as young as Year 1 where they can select what they want to use. In a recent session (recording factual information about the Antarctic gathered by using Zoom School) Y2 pupils chose to record their work using either 2Publish+, 2CASS or 2Publish Extra (via PurpleMash). They also chose their own template and the way they presented work, leading to work that ranged from fact sheets to reference books while all covering the same skills ( importing, copying, pasting, etc.) and the same topic. This also works with older children: asking them to make a multimedia presentation might lead to a selection of videos and animations fitting in alongside more traditional Powerpoints or items made using web based tools like Animoto or Prezi.
- Use things that inspire and engage: if you can make room for a little gaming or game creation: it might take your lesson in unusual directions. I’ve recently brought in my ipad and shown pupils some of the great apps available – many of which could be used in the classroom. They are totally in love with it! Bringing in a console or something hand held (like a Nintendo DS) can have unexpected results – it just depends how you use it. Check out ideas from fantastic people like Tim Rylands and get technology working for you, and the pupils, in your classroom. On the flip side get pupils to create their own games or quizzes to challenge each other and link to topics or learning intentions. I’ve mentioned 2DIY recently (which I’ve just used with more able, younger pupils to create quizzes linked to their topic) but there are other things out there, includingScratch, which are equally useful especially with older pupils.
- Buddy pupils up! Use your more able pupils to assist the ones that need a little extra support – not intrusively, just as a someone to encourage or chivvy them along. I also like using older pupils along side younger ones (in a sort of Yoda style mentor role). again this isn’t intrusive, just supportive, and the pupils really seem to get something out of it.
So there you go. Not rocket science but a few ideas to than can be used to extend and stretch your pupils. I’m sure you can think of loads I’ve missed but I’ll leave you to fill in the gaps. If you’re looking for a place to start (to get more ideas – technology wise) then this might be worth a look.