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Mixed Abilities: Activities to deal with it

Addeh Hovassapian's picture

<strong>Have got a Mixed-level or mixed-ability class and need practical ideas on how to involve all your students and provide them with learning opportunities based on their levels and abilities?</strong>

Here are some of the ideas we discussed and tried in Bonnie Tsoi workshop entitled “Mixed Abilities: An Intelligent Approach”.  

According to her, while differences among students of a class are often considered a hindrance for a class progress by most teachers, in fact these differences can be intelligently manipulated and turned into an advantage through cooperative learning and learner autonomy. Therefore, she suggested that, as a first step, teachers in such classes need to get over students affective phobias such as fear of peer judgments and making mistakes and instead work towards establishing a participatory mode of decision making, building students’ self-esteem and help students to uncover their intellectual abilities and potentials.

So after briefing on what areas of our teaching can support students learning, to demonstrate how these objective can be achieved she introduced 3 activities which the audience tried and I can say they were quite successful in terms of the purpose for which they were designed. 

Here they are:

1.    The first activity was called ABC dictation in which the teacher adapts a passage by breaking it down into sentences ranging from easy to complex ones. Then they should group students into A,B,C and dictate those sentences to each group based on their level of proficiency.

2.    The second one which I liked best was about writing a collaborative Post-card which to me can be adopted for writing stories as well. For this, the teacher instructs (on the length and complexity level) students to write sentences of different length and complexity in parts. That is, first of all students write a sentence, then they pass they paper to their peers (back or forth) and then they have to write another one continuing logically. 

3.    The last activity was for vocab revision and for this the teacher divides the class in 3 groups, group A matches picture and words, group B matches words and definition, Group C writes a definition for themselves.

They definitely worth trying in our classes, don’t they?!