I was asked by a colleague to take part in a research project aiming at ‘Stretch and Challenge’. I have heard this term a lot and was one of my development point in the lesson observation. I agreed to take part in the research as I thought it will help develop my practise.
‘Differentiation’ is creating tasks for students that help them learn in their comfort zone and ‘Stretch and Challenge’ is creating tasks for students that help them grow outside their comfort zones.
In this blog I will list different ‘Stretch and Challenge’ techniques I use in my classroom to help students grow outside their comfort zones. (I will keep updating the blog)
I decided to aim my lessons towards the higher ability learners and support the lower ability learners to achieve them.
Strategies I am using to Stretch and Challenge my learners :
Before we can start stretching the learners, it is very important to know them.
- Individual Learning Plans (ILP’s) – Students were given a template to create their own learning plans. Here is the lesson and the handouts used in class to support the creation of learning plans. The plan is to review the ILP’s with students every week.
- Setting Targets – I created an excel sheet with students Qualification on Entry – their GCSE grades when they joined the course. This gave me a starting point. Then we created ILP’s in class which gave us their targets. As Professor Dylan Wiliam, in his book Embedding Formative Assessment, explains that students who have a clear picture of their learning journey are more able to reflect on their progress over time and take responsibility for knowing how to move forward. If students set their own targets, then it gives them a clear ‘why’ and a bigger picture on what their teacher is doing in class to stretch and challenge them to achieve those targets. I asked each student to set ‘an academic target’ which will measure their academic success and at least ‘two other targets that can make them more employable’. The group I targeted is working on project #ReadingCollegeTakeOver-2.
- Seating Plan – Students were assigned seating plan based on their targets. The plan was created to ensure that the students support each other in achieving their targets. They were asked to work in pairs and in some cases in teams on three.