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Teaching Mixed Levels
March 18, 2011

When you are teaching a class with multiple levels, choose content or a skill to teach that is applicable to all levels, but give variations of tasks or texts that fit your students language levels. For example, in a lesson on inference, after first defining inference and comparing examples of explicit and implicit language, I divided the class into small groups (of similar levels.) I provided them with 2 poems. The task was to identify the object described in the poem based on the clues given by the descriptive language of the poems "Southbound Freeway" and "Morning" by May Swenson. Everyone started with the easy poem (with easier vocabulary and more explicit description). The more advanced groups raced through the first poem and then spent time analyzing the metaphors in the second more difficult poem. The lower level groups spent the whole time on the first poem, exploring vocabulary and when prompted by the teacher drawing a picture of what was described and looking for proofs. (Note: group activities are a great place to incorporate volunteers. Use them if you've got them!!) I spend the time floating between the groups prompting various lines of thought, answering questions, and encouraging. All students were challenged at their level, while they each practiced the same skill.

By Anne Van Gilst

About the Blogger: Anne currently coordinates a mixed level Women's Reading Discussion Group in the community. The rest of the time she is home with her young family.

Filed under: Teaching Tips


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