Extension Tasks- What effect do they have on the less able learners

As we all know extension tasks should be incorporated in lesson plans, however do the activities that are put in place for the more able learners demoralise and demotivate the less able students?

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Comment by Ellie Nelson on January 8, 2013 at 3:21am
Hi Sam, I think there could be a danger of this if the teacher were to place emphasis on the reason why only certain learners are to complete these tasks. It must be executed tactfully and I believe there is also times when even if you feel certain tasks are out of reach of some learners within the middle of the class, teachers should be challengeing them to see if they could complete the extension (even if only partially).
They are necessary to the learners who strive within a subject area, so another way of tackling the problem would be to ask all learners to complete the task in pairs, ensuring you are placing a more able learner with students who may struggle with the task.
Comment by Christopher Heath on January 12, 2013 at 8:15am

Hi Samuel

An intreging scenario, and one if you get wrong could dis-engage a learner permanently. I feel that this can be achieved but it needs to be done subtly. For example placing stronger students with weaker students in paired or group activities, but disguising the reason you have done this, is of great benefit. It will allow the stronger student to use their skills and understanding to teach the weaker student, often with great benefit.

 

Hope this helps, and good luck with your teaching.

Chris

Comment by Tracy brookes on January 15, 2013 at 2:34pm
Hi Sam,
I think it is all too easy for a teacher to just dish out extension tasks all of the time, but then in saying that I think it really is what you set them, one of my extensions tasks was to collect some pictures relevant to what we were working on at the time, to which they all did and really helped with the following lesson but more importantly all learners were able to compete the task, thus promoting inclusion. However I used to have a teacher that insisted that we had extensions tasks after nearly every lesson, which felt like we were just left to teach ourselves to which some learners struggled to always complete? So if you can find the right balance I think it can benefit both teacher and learner.
T x
Comment by Hannah Garnham on January 16, 2013 at 6:15am

Yes I believe this can lower a student's confidence, especially as there is no teacher support during this time. I know its a little off-topic, but I remember one extension given to us at school that was really good- to make a leaflet about niagara falls- it encouraged us to be creative with the information we had found about the topic, but it was great for differentiation as all learners could be included and stronger students went further with their research. I agree that you have to be subtle about this and make sure it is inclusive.

Comment by Keeley Knowles on January 16, 2013 at 9:41am

I don't know much about creating extension activities yet as I have only taught two sessions so far but how about if the extension activity is expressed in such a way that it takes account of students that are ready to progress as well as those that are struggling or on target? Something interesting with the scope for development for everyone, including those in the middle. So, the same topic but worded so that if some feel comfortable, explore such and such. Do you see what I mean? Sorry I'm vague about this but as I say, I've only ever put this into practice once before and again tomorrow.

Comment by Samuel Kidby on January 17, 2013 at 9:30am

Great point Keeley, so if the teacher can word the activities in such a way that its more of a choice for the learners to extend, however could this perhaps have a negative effect on the more able learners remembering that most of them will still be very pedadogical so will only do what is required, maybe not having the motivation to push themselves?

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