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different types of learners by giving all students the same type of activity just at different levels, whereas Nancy’s study suggests that learning preferences should be considered in order to engage students. Previous studies by Pritchard advocate that ‘Learning preferences refer to an individual’s preferred intellectual approach to learning, which has an important bearing on how learning proceeds for each individual, especially when considered in conjunction with what teachers expect from learners in the classroom’ (Pritchard, A 2005) Choice is another slant on the notion of preferred learning styles that has a bearing on how learning progresses (Pritchard, A 2005) The term ‘learning preferences’ has been used to refer to the conditions – encompassing environmental, emotional, sociological and physical conditions – that an individual learner would choose, if they were in a position to make a choice (Dunn et al. 1989). A study conducted by Bartlett (2016) articulates that ‘Choice should be made based on performance at that particular time, combined with the outcomes of the mini-assessments, your professional judgement and the pupil’s assessment of their own learning’ (Bartlett, J 2016)Bartlett (2016) also recommends that the teacher should facilitate learning, ‘If you know that a pupil has made an unsuitable choice then you may want to guide their selection and offer a little advice’ (Bartlett, J 2016) What is important is how tasks are tailored to ensure that we do not apply a glass ceiling to learning and limit progress by assigning pupils to a given ‘level’. Some say that differentiation by task is where all pupils are given a single work-sheet on which questions get progressively harder. I argue that this is poor practice and that if you use a single worksheet you must use it wisely (Bartlett, J. 2016) In agreement with this rationale is Bearne and Kennedy (2014) signifying that ‘differentiated tasks assume that certain individuals or groups will only be able to cope with a limited amount of new information, this can run the risk of excluding pupils who might be able to cope with more ambitious learning objectives. The challenge to the teacher is to find ways of framing tasks that can not only genuinely stretch all the learners, but that might provide for the variety of approaches to learning’ (Bearne, E and Kennedy, R. 2014) In its worst manifestation, differentiation by task is represented by three different worksheets – one with mostly pictures and few words; one with more words, more densely packed, and one picture; and a third with lots of words and no pictures. This kind of ‘worst-case’ practice gives very powerful negative impressions to all the learners in the classroom. It is more like division than differentiation (Bearne, E and Kennedy, R. 2014) Some teachers still prefer to use a single worksheet. Whether you do this or use several worksheets, encourage pupils to choose the questions that they answer and avoid working sequentially through questions (Bartlett, J 2016) Although you still have control over the activities to be completed, students have the freedom to make choices as to how they will use their time and the resources they will use to meet your academic expectations (Nancy, s. 2013). School A welcomes and pursues many forms of differentiation within the classrooms and school. From the authors observations, it is apparent that tiered worksheets and activities are used in every core subject class in key stage 2. In the schools’ 2015 inspection from OFSTED they were rated good for both the quality of teaching and the achievement of pupils. ‘Adults are aware of what each child knows and plans activities that challenge and extend child
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