New Differentiated Teaching Program Helps Flinders Students Get Ready For… A Love Of Learning

Primary School students at Matthew Flinders Anglican College are benefitting from a differentiated learning program that is boosting student outcomes, engagement and satisfaction.

Flinders’ Ready for… program provides specialist teaching support and targeted activities in Numeracy and Literacy concepts for students from Year 1 to Year 6.

Commencing in February 2019, the program provides students with differentiated classes up to nine times each week.

Differentiation is a strategy used by teachers to craft lessons that provide the right amount of support and challenge for every student.

The aim is to ensure that all students can master their individual objectives and continually grow, even if they aren't necessarily at the same starting level.

Head of Primary Trudi Edwards said the College was excited to offer this unique and data-informed program to students.

“The Ready for… program enables our teachers to provide precise and targeted learning, which our data shows is considerably boosting student engagement,” Trudi said.

“What’s more, student satisfaction is also increasing as our students feel heard, supported and challenged in a way that meets them at their particular point of readiness in these essential learning areas,” she said.

“As a result of this personalised approach to teaching and learning, we are seeing clear and exciting evidence of the benefits, both academically and in relation to students’ dispositions and engagement with learning.”

Trudi said that Flinders’ Ready For… approach was not about streaming students based on their ability and did not implement different year-level curriculum.

“Rather, our groupings occur in certain strands or concept areas - for example, Spelling, Numbers and Writing - and are fluid, with students moving groups when they are ready for more complex or unfamiliar application tasks or if they are ready for consolidating knowledge and skills,” Trudi said.

“These groups are not based on general ability, but more so on the depth of conceptual understanding and mastery of concepts.”

Head of Teaching and Learning Debbie Planck said the Ready for concept was not a new learning approach at the College.

“Flinders has always differentiated its learning for students to help each child gain the precise learning and challenge they need day-to-day in the classroom,” Debbie said.

“What is new is that when our Primary School formally structured and introduced this program in February 2019, we employed an English Specialist Teacher and a Mathematics  Specialist Teacher to join our staff team,” she said.

“These specialist educators are committed to extending and providing further challenge for groups of students and providing them with targeted instruction in relation to what they are ready for in their learning.”

The way the Flinders program works is that all students undertake the same curriculum and subject-based assessment, informed by the Australian Curriculum, for that year level with differentiated instruction in three groups, each with a dedicated teacher.

The three Ready for… groups are based on whether students are ready for:

  1. Core activities
  2. Consolidation activities or
  3. deeper, more challenging Application activities in their lessons.

“The feedback from our teachers is that students look forward to Ready for… classes and are therefore more engaged in the learning,” Debbie said.

“Students are excited about these differentiated classes because they know they will have the opportunity to work more closely with a teacher in a small group scenario and that the learning will be directed at their level of conceptual understanding,” she said.

“Class sizes are significantly reduced using this method and that means more individualised instruction and feedback for all students.”

As an example of the Ready for… learning in action, students in a year level will be learning to infer when reading. One group of students may work with their classroom teacher on Core concepts to master and apply the fundamentals of this specific strategy to unseen texts.

Another smaller group of students may work with a teacher to Consolidate their understanding of inference using familiar texts.

Other students may be ready to identify, synthesise and infer information read in a complex, unfamiliar poem in order to infer the theme of the text. These students therefore work in a small group alongside the English Specialist Teacher on the more challenging Application activities.

“At Flinders, we are focused on supporting each student to learn to their true potential, and this program is just one of the strategies we are using to realise this goal,” Debbie said.

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