Stretching More Capable Students
19 Jun, 2017
It is important never to forget that providing an inclusive classroom also means catering for the more capable students in your classroom. Every student in the primary classroom must become ICT capable and this includes those students who appear to be more ICT capable than others. If teachers are to help the citizens of tomorrow to be ready for a technologically-dominated society, then significant considerations need to be taken into account. For this reason, I have included the following content in my new accredited online course for Primary teachers. Course content that will enable you to teach ICT capability effectively across the Primary curriculum today.
Through observation and monitoring you can easily determine who is more confident around the technology than the other students. Students who appear to be more capable may have already developed conceptual understanding in the various processes being undertaken. However, you may find that this may change depending on the activity. For example, some children may be highly proficient when using one piece of software but inexperienced with others. Despite this these students who are confident users of ICT will be able to transfer knowledge and skills across software packages.
It is crucial, therefore, that you do stretch and challenge these students appropriately. What you may find, otherwise, is that they become disruptive and worse, lose interest and motivation.
Being able to gauge the level of challenge for ICT activities can be difficult particularly as the children progress. However, the level of challenge does not necessarily mean doing something that is technically more advanced. It could simply relate to the subject content, or the style and mode of presentation.
For example, if a pair of students is working on a slide for a presentation, you could ask them whether they have another thought about changing the size of the text, including another picture or modifying the content of the text so that it makes more sense. Intervention at this time is vital if you are to enable them to progress in their development of ICT capability. By showing them a feature of the software which could enable them to be more productive in their use of time or simply suggesting a more advanced technique, progress in their capability can be achieved.
In addition to this point, planning for planned and unplanned times of intervention can boost their higher order thinking skills. Have your questions ready for these students to challenge their intellect and capabilities.
As most ICT work in the classroom is carried out in group work, mentoring their peers can be a very effective way of keeping these students engaged in their learning. Research has indicated that when doing so these student experts will learn as well as the learner. The added of this is that students will often learn better from their peers than from you as a teacher. Student mentors will be able to analyse what they do in order to explain it to their friends. It is important when allowing this to brief these students about how to support learning rather than taking over otherwise no learning will occur on either side.
At times, the demand on these student experts can be quite high and so you can prevent them from being distracted from their own work by allocating mixed ability pairs.
Another way you can stretch these students is to keep the handbook of the technology handy. Whenever a student approaches you being stuck with the technology they are using you can give them the handbook. This gives them control of how far they go. Remember that the success of this tactic depends on your view of the truthfulness as well as the usefulness of manuals.
You could also set these more capable students a challenge if you have drill and practice software programs that is adaptable. A typing program is a classic example where you can ask them to achieve their best typing speed with the highest accuracy. Or perhaps if they are working on a database have the more capable students develop their own database structures whilst others continue using a prepared structure.
Never forget too, that even these students can make mistakes. Don’t be afraid of letting this happen. Remember, that students needs to be able to not only encounter a problem but to learn to overcome it themselves in order to progress in their ICT capability.
Finally, exploit whatever technology you have available to the fullest potential by simply asking them to experiment with it themselves.