I was an above average student throughout my schooling but was staggered one day to discover that I just couldn’t answer the questions in a certain test. The test was undertaken in a large hall and based on a tape recording of dubious quality but aside from that, I discovered that I just wasn’t a good listener. Without pictures and written text, the spoken words just didn’t sink in.
In the decades since that test I discovered Howard Gardner’s theory of multiple intelligences and in my teaching studies I learned that students with different learning styles need to be catered for.
Differentiation involves providing different students with different avenues to learning in order to maximise each student's experiences and outcomes. Put simply, it is modifying classroom approaches and activities to cater to student needs. Doing this is not always easy but the payoff is worth it when you see a concept click for a child – that light bulb moment when a student understands and looks back at you with delight.
Differentiation can be achieved by modifying a range of factors, such as content, process or method, learning environment or difficulty level. Identifying what to modify and when is one of the many skills a teacher needs to have. It is another task in an already busy day but a necessary one when time has shown us that one size does not fit all in education. This is where tools can help support a teacher and student.
The Wingaru Kids’ platform has been designed with differentiated learning in mind. While all lessons start with an audio-visual presentation, students have the option to rewind and rewatch to engage with the information. In addition to this, many of our videos have printable transcripts as another version of the text. Each lesson has three types of learning activity including multiple choice questions, crossword puzzles, find-a-words, jumbled words and matching tasks. Teachers can assign different puzzles to different students or even assign a lesson or activity from a different year level for student who are beyond (or behind) the learning levels of the rest of the class. For non-readers, Wingaru Kids’ lessons can be played on an interactive white board with the teacher guiding the class through the learning activities as a group.
As a parent, it’s reassuring to know that my child’s teacher has his back in the classroom and is creating flexible learning opportunities. It’s an under-appreciated skill but the impact does not go unnoticed.
In a recent belly-dancing class I confirmed that I will never have bodily-kinesthetic intelligence! Don’t let your Wingaru Kids feel the same way. Take some time to discover the many learning styles that the platform caters for and assign the lessons according to the different abilities in your class. It may take more time at the start, but the platform does all the marking for you!
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