I need to pay homage to the glorious differentiation wheel; saviour of my (occasional) one dimensional lessons, bounteous giver of time. I was alerted to this neat little lesson idea through Mike Fleetham’s thinking class room http://www.thinkingclassroom.co.uk/
It centres on creating a wheel of activities from a central oasis of content. Students choose their own activities; one which they can do easily and one which is a challenge. When they have finished they need to find others who have done the same activities as them and compare. Another task is for them to organise the tasks in order of difficulty and explain their why they think certain tasks are harder than others.
It works really well based on the idea that students like to choose their own activities and will often seek to challenge themselves once they have achieved something in the first task. The simplicity means that it saves lots of planning time (can’t say fairer than that) and frees up the teacher to offer support during lesson time because the students have more ownership of the task.
I tend to use it to allow students to apply different skills for instance using a sources or sources, but you can easily write ‘Repression under Stalin’ in the central bubble and give a variety of tasks based on this content. If I’m feeling particularly on the ball I’ll base my tasks on Bloom’s taxonomy. My colleague used it for GCSE revision and the variety of tasks meant that it avoided the heavy treacle-wading sensation that revision sessions can sometimes engender.
Thank you Mike Fleetham wherever you are…