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Creating Challenge in the Classroom

Extension is about creating challenge in the classroom. It is essential to extend the learning opportunities for all students. However, your extension strategies may be used more often for the able, gifted and talented students in your classroom. Extension activities must engage and challenge the students. You should never set just more of the same work. It should be suitably varied and incorporate the breadth, depth and pace required to progress to high achievement. Note: You can set an extension task (what to do) and / or use an extension strategy (how to do it). Creating Classroom Challenge:

  • Students / plan / do / review / learn / apply

  • Work from a difficult text or use technical language

  • Use a wide variety of texts

  • Have opportunities to debate contentious issues

  • Record in an unusual way

  • Role-play

  • Investigate or problem solve

  • Provide choice in how to handle content

  • Decision making

  • No correct answer, more than one correct answer

  • Teachers provide answers, they set the questions

  • Use Bloom‟s top three – Analysis, Evaluation and Synthesis

  • Time-restricted activities

  • Involve students in the planning (co-construction)

  • Independent learning

  • Open ended tasks, but with a clear brief

  • Use of the internet / ICT

  • Encourage risk taking

Using Higher Order Thinking Skills – “HOTS”

Good questioning stimulates good learning. When teachers provide challenge and different questioning techniques, the students, especially the able, gifted and talented, improve their learning. Students should be allowed time to take risks and make mistakes if they are to use reasoning and higher order thinking skills. The following websites are useful for exploring Bloom‟s building blocks and higher order thinking skills.

Teaching & Learning Tips

Whole Class

  • Use differentiated questions.

  • Differentiate expectations.

  • Prepare questions targeted on particular pupils that reflect their needs and personalities.

  • Prime able pupils for contributions that extend the experience of all.

  • Pitch texts just above the independent reading level of the class.

  • Avoid over-exposure of able pupils.

  • Direct questions to individuals to involve able pupils in interactive discussion.

  • Expect able pupils to articulate what has been learned.

  • Give an oral commentary with the more able in mind.

  • Involve pupils in modelling if appropriate.

  • Ask able pupils to articulate explanations and principles.

  • Make it possible for able pupils to enter tasks at a higher point.

  • Use modelling to build the confidence of able pupils.

  • Model problem-solving at different levels.

  • Use the terminology to support meta-cognition.

  • Model only that which able pupils need to know.

Group Work

  • Recognise that able pupils are entitled to teacher time.

  • Identify able pupils’ shared needs and group accordingly.

  • Use additional adults as mentors.

  • Create task-specific groups.

  • Vary group membership.

  • Ensure that there are times when the ablest pupils work together.

  • Ensure that able pupils have the opportunity to follow and to lead.

  • Give able pupils roles in group work that reflect their abilities.

  • Have group/pupil targets, not just class targets.

  • Promote self-evaluation.

  • Recognise and use the linguistic expertise of multilingual pupils.

  • Use out-of-lesson conferencing, for example with mentors.

  • Encourage pupils to set questions, not just to provide answers.

  • Negotiate over objectives, styles of response and criteria for evaluation.

  • Be open to suggestions that build on the pupils’ cultural backgrounds.

  • Decide together on the objectives to be addressed by able pupils.

  • Discuss possibilities over presentation .

  • Allocate challenging roles in group work, for example, chairing the group, taking responsibility for moving discussion forward.

  • Use peer editing or marking.

  • Require the articulation of principles and development points.

  • Expect ‘different’ rather than just ‘more’.

  • Help able pupils to contribute to the success of others.

  • Focus on qualitative outcomes.

  • Explore possibilities for acceleration.

  • Give all learning a time frame, but match timing to potential.

  • Compact the task and give a limited focus to promote depth.

  • Plan to engage with higher-order learning skills.

Independent Work

  • Marking should be formative, not just celebratory, and should be focused on specific criteria.

  • Share differentiated success criteria in advance.

  • Vary styles of response and avoid excessive pressure.

  • Offer the inspiration that can come from meeting older pupils who are gifted or talented.

  • Encourage self-checking based on prompt sheets for self-analysis.

  • Monitor independent reading round the subject.

  • Learn about the process of enquiry via the published comments of practitioners.

  • Extend and exploit the conventions of different text types.

  • Match texts and tasks to pupils’ abilities through negotiation based on high expectations.

  • Establish extracurricular groups.

  • Foster originality, independence and initiative.

  • Set investigative, research-based tasks.

  • Make time for individual feedback.

  • Promote extended reading and writing.

  • Expect the use of ICT and encourage (monitored) e-mail link-ups with able pupils in other schools.

  • Consider having students in training as e-mentors for able pupils.

  • Ensure appropriate access to ICT.

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