A study on strategies for differentiation in the teaching of english as a foreign language

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Revista Qurriculum, 27; marzo 2014, pp. 29-53; ISSN: 1130-5371

A STUDY ON STRATEGIES FOR DIFFERENTIATION

IN THE TEACHING OF ENGLISH AS

A FOREIGN LANGUAGE

Cristina Sánchez Fernández

Universidad de Granada

Abstract

Differentiation as a classroom practice requires teachers to understand the nature of each one of the students to meet their individual differences. This study examines differentiation strategies used by English teachers in a secondary school in their classrooms. The literature review points out that there is no one method which guarantees every student’s development but it can be easier if teachers use differentiated instruction. Qualitative data was collected by means of classroom observations and the teachers’ self-report. Findings of this study show that teachers sometimes make use of differentiation strategies, but its feasibility decreases because of the time and workload involved.

Key words: diversity, differentated instruction, differentiation strategies, classroom ob-servation, teachers’ self-report.

Resumen

«Estudio de estrategias de diferenciación en la enseñanza de inglés como lengua extranjera». La diferenciación como práctica en el aula requiere que los profesores comprendan la natu-raleza de cada uno de los alumnos para conocer sus diferencias individuales. Este estudio analiza las estrategias de diferenciación utilizadas por profesores de inglés en un instituto de secundaria en sus aulas. La revisión de la literatura señala que no existe un método único que garantice el desarrollo de cada alumno, pero puede ser más fácil si los profesores usan la instrucción diferenciada. Los datos cualitativos fueron recogidos a través de observaciones de aula y del autoinforme de cada profesor. Los resultados muestran que los profesores algunas veces hacen uso de estrategias de diferenciación pero su viabilidad disminuye a causa del tiempo y la consecuente carga de trabajo.

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1. AN OVERVIEW OF THE RESEARCH

1.1. Introduction: Background

Diversity is an inherent condition for the human development where stu-dents have their own different individual characteristics which affect their learning process, that is, they are all different. According to Burns and Shadoian-Gersing (2010: 21), diversity has been framed as «characteristics that can affect the specific ways in which developmental potential and learning are realised, including cultural, linguistic, ethnic, religious and socio-economic differences».

Students populating Spanish classrooms are diverse. Meeting the needs of students is one of the most persistent challenges facing teachers in schools. Students come from different cultures, have different learning styles, have different levels of emotional and social maturity and have different individual learning preferences. Although students’ differ and reflect different levels of academic readiness, they develop, together with the intellectual and emotional capabilities appropriate to their age, a peculiar cognitive style, different interests and different characterists from the rest of the students in the group (Jiménez Raya, 2009).

Thus, the term differentiation is central and relevant in the educational system. In fact, many educational researchers have explored individual differences in learning, creating theories of thinking, learning, and teaching in the last century (Dörnyei, 2005). The Multiple Intelligence theory and the theory of Self-Government describe ways to organize and understand the individual differences in our clas-srooms (Sternberg, 1988; Gardner, 1995, 1999). In short, these two theories share with differentiated instruction a central theme where students learn in different ways and schools that differentiate will increase student success.

Despite the fact that the theories mentioned above work to explain why there are differences, there are several definitions provided by different researchers. One is the theory of differentiated instruction proposed by Carol Ann Tomlinson (1999, 2001), based on the premise that teachers should adapt instruction taking into account students’ differences. In most schools, students are grouped heterogeneously, so teachers need to implement differentiated instructional strategies.

2. LITERATURE REVIEW

2.1. Introduction

Spanish Education is on the verge of a process of reform which has under-gone a series of legislative changes that have been crucial in the history. One of these changes occurred in the early 1990s when the system introduced the extension of the age of schooling to the age of 16.

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differ-R

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entiation will be useful in the development of this study. Dealing with diversity is one of the central challenges of 21st century education. Teachers need to find ways

to deal with students’ individual needs, which may include anything from cultural differences to ability level. This is currently called differentiated instruction. It is based on the assertion that instructional approaches should be adapted to students’ diverse academic skill levels and individual differences in the classroom.

2.2. Origin And Background Of Attention To Diversity: Individual Di-fferences

The biggest mistake of past centuries in teaching has been to treat all children as if they were variants of the same individual, and thus to feel justified in teaching them the same subjects in the same ways.

(Gardner, in Tomlinson 1999:9)

In Spain, initial experiments in the attention to diversity date back to the sixteenth century and were intended for students with sensory handicaps. As Jiménez Raya (2009) states, attention to diversity is based on the following premises: the society and specially the students are diverse due to the large arrival of immigrants, the increasing visibility of disabled students and the construction of schools that also receive students with some type of specific need educational support. Students learn more when instruction deals with the Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) (Vygotsky, 1978). Vygotsky (1978:86) defines this notion «as the distance between the actual developmental level as determined by independent problem solving and the level of potential development as determined through problem solving under adult guidance or in collaboration with more capable peers».

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2.3. Differentiation

What we have in common makes us human. How we differ, makes us individuals

(Tomlinson, 2001:1)

The origins of differentiated instruction date back to the 1600s when one room school houses were the staple in education. In these early schools, one teacher was responsible for educating students in a wide range of grades and ability levels without technology, and it was assumed that students could learn the same materials at the same pace (Gundlach, 2011).

As we have seen in the introduction, the amount of research devoted to the attention to differentiation is growing. There are several definitions for differentation which state that differentiated instruction tries to provide students with different teaching strategies in order to acquire content or to process useful information. Differentiation is a complex concept, so, different researchers define differentiation from their individual points of view.

Convery (1999:4) defines differentiation as «a process by which teachers provide opportunities for pupils to achieve their potential, working at their own pace through a variety of relevant learning activities».

Others agree that differentiated instruction is simply a philosophy which enables and encourage teachers to plan and to adapt instruction to deal with students’ differences (Tomlinson, 2005). Additionally, Carol Ann Tomlinson (2001) states that differentiated instruction is regarded as accommodating learning differences by identifying students’ strengths and using appropriate ways to address a variety of abilities, preferences and styles. She (2001:1) defines differentiation as «a shaking up what goes on in the classroom so that students have multiple options for taking in information, making sense of ideas, and expressing what they learn».

A differentiated classroom offers a range of learning options designed according to different readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles through dif-ferent instructional strategies. Therefore, difdif-ferentiated instruction is a response to students guided by principles, such as flexible grouping, respectful tasks and ongoing assessments where the teacher uses a variety of ways for students to explore content, a variety of comprehension activities or processes through which students can come to understand, the acquisition of information and ideas, and a variety of options through which students can demonstrate what they have learned.

2.4.1. Differentiation at the School and Classroom Level

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Furthermore, differentiation is evident at the classroom level when appropri-ate challenges are available for all students. Differentiation is possible if one bears in mind some methodological strategies which can be summarized as differentiation by resource/text, task, support, and response/outcome.

Differentiation by resource or text is based upon the fact that some students are

capable of working with more advanced resources than others. Differentiation by task

is based on a variety of tasks provided that cover the main content area and relate to

the same activity. Differentiation by support is linked to differentiation by dialogue, and is based upon the notion that some students need more help than others from the teacher or other effective students to complete the work set. Differentiation by

outcome or response is perhaps the most widely used of all forms of differentiation.

The same material or stimulus is used for all students or, alternatively, the same tasks are set for everybody in the group.

Moreover, Tomlinson and Strickland (2005:15) identify the elements which need to be differentiated. They identify three basic elements of the curriculum which may be differentiated (Hall, Strangman & Meyer, 2003). The first of these is content (elements and materials used in reaching learning goals and in teaching concepts, principles, and skills that students will learn), that is, what teachers will teach. Within content, Convery and Coyle (1999) propose differentiating by task, by difficulty and by text. The second of these is process (how you will teach the content, flexible groups or whole-group discussion of content or small groups or paired groups; groups are not fixed). Regarding process, Convery and Coyle (1999:10) suggest that by varying the way in which new material is presented the teacher provides opportunities for learners to respond in different ways. The final element they identify is products (students are allowed choices in products or final assessments which should offer a variety of ways for expression, degree of difficulty, and types of evaluation), that is, what teachers use as evidence of learning.

Differentiated instruction requires a departure from traditional methods of teaching and the belief that learners vary according to readiness, ability, motivation, and interest. Tomlinson & McTighe (2006) proposed three main categories of stu-dents that are the basis for differentiation in the classroom; readiness, learning profile and interest. These categories represent the factors that make our students different from one another and that should be carefully considered when teachers have to plan and to implement teaching strategies in differentiated instruction. Teachers in a differentiated classroom also have to attend to these categories, in order to meet the learning potential of each student in that classroom.

3. RESEARCH DESIGN

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3.1. Objectives

The study has three main objectives. These are:

– To develop an understanding of differentiation.

– To identify teachers’ differentation strategies in order to address diversity challenges. – To know what kind of strategies teachers use to adapt teaching to weaker, and

effective students.

3.2. Research Questions

I have proposed the following research questions:

1. How do teachers cater to students’ differences in the classroom?

2. What teaching strategies do teachers use to adapt teaching to weaker students? 3. What teaching strategies do teachers use to adapt teaching to good/effective

students?

3.3. Research Methodology

3.3.1. Introduction: The Methodological Process

This section outlines the methods, the procedures used in gathering and analyzing the data, the setting and the participants, the instruments used to do this research and the data analysis that have been used in this study.

I chose to observe a secondary-level English teacher, the reason being that I believed it could be of importance to know what teaching strategies these teachers used when working with weaker and good students. The vast majority of students that these teachers had in their classes were weaker students and teachers should encourage and motivate them for their progress and advance.

The observation phase of this study took place over a period of three weeks from the 8th of May to the 28th of May 2013 at a secondary state school in La Zubia.

The duration was three complete weeks because it was necessary observing a complete teaching unit of each one of the participants. I observed three English teachers in their different classes during the instructional time. Depending on the length of the units, the observation was completed in six or seven lessons.

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3.3.2. Setting and Participants

The secondary school where the study was conducted is located in La Zubia (Granada). This state school is considered by the Junta de Andalucía as an inclusive school. Students here are heterogeneously grouped for most of the subjects. Further-more, learning disabled and Down syndrome students are in an inclusion setting for all of their subjects. Good and effective students are not grouped according to their area of giftedness.

The teachers observed were two female English teachers, one with 20 years of experience, another with 30 years of experience, and one male English teacher with 25 years of experience: 12 years in primary education, teaching the English subject and other subjects and 13 years in secondary education, teaching English.

At the beginning of the observation, I presented the objectives of the research study to these English teachers. These observations took place with a particular focus on the classes selected which were 1º, 3º and 4º ESO using the observation guide for collecting the necessary information. I also needed this teachers’ participation to complete the self-report.

While observing, I took notes of the strategies used by these three English language teachers. The two female teachers followed the traditional way of teaching. The male teacher, on the other hand, used a different way which allowed students to work more independently, that is, at their own pace.

3.3.4. Instrumentation

Listening, observing experienced teachers and analyzing the different ways they approach the mixed-ability classroom have been the fundamental tools on which I have based my study. As I said in the introduction, the main data collection instruments are the Teachers’ Observation Guide of Differentiation Strategies which consists of 19 items and is provided in the Appendix 7.1. Additionally, I used a

Teachers’ Self-Report which was completed by the teachers at the end of the teaching

unit and is provided in the Appendix 7.2. The 19 items related to differentiation strategies were taken from Carol Ann Tomlinson (1999: 61; 2001: 32-38) and from Deschenes, C., Ebeling, D., and Sprague, J. (1994).

When I refer to the strategies themselves, in the observation, I have to take into consideration the structure of a language lesson. Lessons proceed through a series of teaching and learning activities, and they reach a conclusion (Richards & Lockhart, 1996). Teachers try to provide an effective teaching and are able to use effective teaching materials as for instance «presenting new material in small steps» (Rosenshine and Stevens, 1986: 377, in Richards & Lockhart, 1996: 114). Effective materials are those which support the lesson and help students through tasks to reach outcomes.

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4.1. Results

A. Classroom Observation

Table 1, 2 and 3 show the results collected from the first, second and third teachers observed in the group of 1º ESO A, 3º ESO D and 4º ESO B. There were between 23 - 27 students in each class. They were distributed in pairs according to their learning levels, though there are some days in which the teacher distributes them in groups to do different activities. At the beginning of the year the English teacher gave an Initial Placement test and the class was distributed into 3 different levels: 1, 2, 3. Level 1 corresponded to all those average students, level 2 was com-posed of the weaker students and level 3 was usually those students who had Down Syndrome or those who had another special educational need. The vast majority of students were at level 1, there were 9 students at level 2, only two students at level 3, and 1 student who was considered gifted.

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R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 40 13 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he nu m be r o f i te m s t ha t t he le ar ne r i s e xp ec te d t o l ea rn or c om pl et e.  Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s h av e to l ea rn 1 5 m ea ns o f tr an sp or ta tio n Le ve l 2 : 1 0. Le ve l 3 : 8 .  G ra m m ar : l ev el 1 : « be go in g t o» in a ffi rm at iv e, ne g a tiv e a nd i nt er ro ga -tiv e. L ev

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nd 3 : o nl y affi rma tiv e a nd n eg at iv e.  Vo ca bu la ry : l ev el 1 : st ud en ts h av e t o l ea rn 10 v er bs r el at ed t o tr an sp or t. L ev el 2 : 8 , le ve l 3 : 5 .  R ea di ng : s tu de nt s h av e to r ea d t he s am e t ex t b ut le ve l 1 : c om pr eh en sio n re ad in g q ue st io ns . L ev el

2: a

ns w er in g q ue st io ns w ith d iff er en t o pt io ns an d l ev el 3 : c ho os in g tr ue o r f al se .   Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he ir re gu la r v er b e xa m : le ve l 1 : 2 0 v er bs , l ev el 2 : 15 a nd 3 : 1 0 v er bs . 14 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he tim e f or tes tin g.       Ir re gu la r v er b e xa m : Le ve l 1 : 3 0 m in . Le ve l 2 : 3 5 m in . Le ve l 3 : 40 m in . 15 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he tim e a llo w ed a nd a llo te d f or ta sk c ompl et io n.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 an d 1 0 m in ut es m or e fo r s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3. Th e r es t o f t he c la ss re ad t he ir r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f t he te rm w hi le t he r es t o f st ud en ts w er e fi ni sh in g. 16 . Th e t ea ch er c at er s t o di ffe re nt n ee ds b y v ar yi ng th e d eg re e o f s up po rt g iv en to ind iv id ua l le ar ne rs .    G ra m m ar e xp la na tio n of «b e g oi ng t o» ten se : (fo rm a nd u se ), g iv in g m or e e xa m pl es i nd iv id -ua lly t o s tu de nt s w ith le ve

l 2 o

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(13)

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(14)

R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 42 2. Th e t ea ch er u se s d iff er -en t a cti vi ties to a cc omm o-da te st uden ts ’ l ev el s.  Av er ag e s tud en ts : D iff er en t p la ce s cr os sw or d. W ea ke r st ud en ts : m at ch in g w or ds w ith p ic tu re s, (p ag e 1 d os sie r).   Av er ag e s tu de nt s co m pl et e t he se nt en ce s w ith t he Pr es en t p er fe ct sim pl e t en se . W ea ke r s tu de nt s co m pl et e t he t ab le s us in g n eg at iv e, affi rm at iv e a nd in te rr og at iv e f or m s of t he P re se nt p er fe ct sim pl e. ( pa

ge 8 i

n th e d os sie r).  Av er ag e s tu de nt s re ad t he t ex t a nd an sw er qu es tion s. W ea ke r s tu de nt s re ad t he t ex t a nd m at ch t he fi rs t p ar t (1 -5 ) w ith t he s ec on d pa rt o f t he t ex t (a -e ).( Pa

ge 6 i

n t he do ss ie r).   A ve ra ge s tu de nt s us e s om e e xp re ss io ns an d d ire ct io ns t o g o to t he s up er m ar ke t. W ea ke r s tu de nt s pr ac tis e t he d ia lo gu e pr op os ed i n p ag e 5 in t he d os sie r.  Av er ag e s tu de nt s w rit e a bo ut t he ir su m me r h ol id ay s. W ea ke r s tu de nt s co m pl et e w ha t L au ra di d i n h er h ol id ay s on M on da y a nd Th ur sd ay . ( Pa ge 2 0 in th e d os sie r). 3. Th e t ea ch er p ro vi de s e f-fe ct iv e m at er ia ls t o d ev el op st uden ts ’ i nte re st .   Th e t ea ch er p ro vi de s ca rd s a bo ut d iff er en t pl ac es a nd s tu de nt s ha ve t o l oo k f or in fo rm at io n a bo ut the m .    S tu de nt s r ea d a te xt t ak en f ro m in te rn et a bo ut D og sle ds . S tu de nt s u se co m pu te r t o l oo k f or D og s le ds o rig in .   4. Th e t ea ch er p ro vi de s eff ec tiv e m at er ia ls t o d ev el -op a nd c at er f or s tu de nt s’ ne ed s.  U se

s a v

isu al c ha rt t o in tr od uc e t he t op ic . D isp la ys o

n a c

ha rt an d t he n s tu de nt s ha ve t o l ab el th ei r o w n c op y o f th e v isu al .    Pr es en ts a n e xa m p le o f d iff er en t u se s o f pr es en t s im pl e t en se

in a P

(15)

R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 43 6. Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he sa m e t as ks t o s ui t d iff er en t le ve ls o f p ro fic ie nc y.  Vo cab ula ry a ct iv ity : Le ve l 1 : m at ch in g w or ds w ith p ic tu re s Le ve l 2 : m at ch in g En gl ish w or ds w ith Sp an ish o ne s Le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s tr an sla te t he E ng lis h vo ca bu la ry i nt o Sp an ish.  Li st en in g: Li st en in g t o t he sa m e t ex t: Le ve l 1 : fi nd in g o ut w ha t p la ce s S al ly vi sit s. Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s ch oo se t he c or re ct op tio n: a , b , c . Le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s ch oo se t ru e o r f al se .  G ra m ma r: Lo ok in g a t t he pi ctu res Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s co m pl et e t he s en -te nc e u sin g P re se nt pe rf ec t s im pl e t en se . Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s ci rc le t he c or re ct an sw er u sin g P re se nt pe rf ec t s impl e. Le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s tr an sla te sen ten ce s ab ou t P re se nt p er fe ct sim pl e i nt o S pa ni sh .  R ead ing : Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s ch oo se t he c or re ct op tio n a ,b , c . Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s ch oo se t ru e o r f al se st at em en ts . Le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s m at ch t he fi rs t p ar t of t he s en te nc e w ith th e s ec on d p ar t.  Sp eaki ng : Le ve l 1 : r ol e p la y: th e t ea ch er g iv es th em s om e p ic tu re s an d t he y c re at e th e s to ry u sin g ex pr es sio ns l ea rn t i n th e u nit . Le ve l 2 : t he t ea ch er gi ve s s tu de nt s t he co nv er st io n a nd th ey h av e t o l ea rn it a nd a

dd 2 m

or e ex pr es sio ns a nd Le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s re ad t he c on ve r-sa tio n a nd t ry t o me mo ri ze it .  Wr iti ng : Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s w rit e a bo ut t he ir hol id ay s. Le ve

l 2 s

tu de nt s m ak

e 5 s

en te nc es w ith t he h ig hl ig ht ed w or ds . le ve l 3 : s tu de nt s co m pl et e t he t ab le w ith t he h ig hl ig ht ed w or ds b y l oo ki ng a t th e w rit in g.  Ir re gu la r v er bs e xa m : Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s ha ve t o c om pl et e 2 0 ve rb s. Le ve l 2 : 1 5 v er bs Le ve l 3 : 1 0 v er bs . 7. Th e t ea ch er m ai n-ta in

s a p

ro du ct iv e w or k en vi ro nm en t w he re a ll t he st ud en ts h av e t he c ha nc e to d ev el op a nd a ch ie ve su cc es s i n t he ir l ea rn in g.  Pr ov id in g s upp or t fo r s tu de nt s’ d if-fe re nt n ee ds i n t he vo cab ula ry a ct iv ity .  Pr ov id in g f re qu en t fe ed ba ck w he n st ud en ts g iv

e a g

oo d an sw er , p ra isi ng a ll he r s tu de nt s i n t he lis ten in g a ct iv ity .  Sp en di ng t im e w ith st ud en ts w hi le t he y ar e p ra ct isi ng t he ro le p la y.  Pr ov id in g f re qu en t fe ed ba ck w he n st ud en ts g iv

e a g

oo d an sw er , p ra isi ng a ll he r s tu de nt s i n t he re ad in g o f t he t ex t.  Pr ov id in g f re qu en t fe ed ba ck w he n st ud en ts g iv

e a g

oo d an sw er , p ra isi ng a ll he r s tu de nt s i n t he ro le p la y i nt er ac tio n.  Pr ov id in g m ot iv at -in g a cti vi ties , s uc h as t he c re at io n o f a po rt fo lio.  M an ag in g t he t im e av ai la bl e f or e ac h on e o f t he t as ks w he n st ud en ts d o t he w rit in g t as k. 8. Th e t ea ch er e nc ou ra ge s se lf-co rr ec tio n/ se lf-a sse ss -m ent .  In v oc ab ul ar y se ss io n, t he t ea ch er pr ovi des o pti on s/ an sw er s a llo w in g t o st ud en ts t hi nk a bo ut th e c or re ct a ns w er , w itho ut st opp in g t he flo w o f t he l es so n.    In p ai rs , s tu de nt s id en tif y e rr or s a nd m ist ak es w hi le r ea d-in g a lo ud t o p ra ct ise pr on un ct ia tion .    Se lf- c or re ct io n i n th e i rr eg ul ar v er b ex am . A t t he e nd o f th e u ni t, s tu de nt s fi ll

in a s

(16)

R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 44 9. Th e t ea ch er c re at es , d e-liv er s a nd g iv es d ire ct io ns an d i ns tr uc tio ns c ar ef ul ly so t ha t a ll s tu de nt s c an und er st and .   St ud en ts l ist en t o t he te ach er ’s i ns tr uc tio ns be fo re t he l ist en in g ac tivi ty .      Th e t ea ch er e xp la in s st ud en ts h ow t he y ca n fi ll t he i rr eg ul ar ve rb s e xa m . 10 . Th e t ea ch er u se s s tr at -eg ie s t o i nt eg ra te w ea ke r le ar ne rs .  Vo ca bu la ry : i n p ai rs w ea ke r s tu de nt s’ us e o f t ec hn ol og y (c om pu te rs )t o d o t he vo ca bu la ry a ct iv ity ab ou t m at ch in g pl ac es w ith t he pi ctu res .  C omm un ic ati on : in p ai rs , w ea ke r st ud en ts d o a n a ct iv -ity a bo ut a sk in g f or di re ct io ns . W ea ke r st ud en ts a sk g oo d st ud en ts h ow c an h e/ sh e g o t o. .? ( so m e pl ac es).    Pa rt ne ri ng : w ith a go od s tu de nt t o d o th e R ol e p la y. P ag e 87 f ro m t he s tu de nt ’s bo ok a nd p ag e 5 fr om t he d os sie r.   G ro up w or k. w hi le w rit in g, w ith o ne eff ec tiv e s tu den t, w ea ke r s tu de nt s h av e to c om pl et e w ith t he co rre ct p re po sit io ns . 11 . Th e t ea ch er i m pl em en ts a p la n f or g ift ed s tu de nt s.        12 . Th e t ea ch er u se s t im e fle xi bl y i

n a m

(17)

R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 45 15 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he tim e a llo w ed a nd a llo te d fo r t as k c om pl et io n.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 a nd 1 0 m in ut es m or e f or s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3 . Th e re st o f t he c la ss r ea d th ei r r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f th e t er m w hi le t he re st o f s tu de nt s w er e fin ish in g.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 a nd 1 0 m in ut es m or e f or s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3 ..Th e re st o f t he c la ss r ea d th ei r r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f th e t er m w hi le t he re st o f s tu de nt s w er e fin ish in g.   5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2 a nd 1 0 m in ut es m or e f or s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 3 . Th e re st o f t he c la ss r ea d th ei r r ea de rs c ho se n at t he b eg in ni ng o f th e t er m w hi le t he re st o f s tu de nt s w er e fin ish in g.   16 . Th e t ea ch er c at er s t o di ffe re nt n ee ds b y v ar yi ng th e d eg re e o f s up po rt g iv en to ind iv id ua l le ar ne rs .  Vo cab ula ry : ha nd ou ts w ith th e t ra ns la tio n i n Sp an ish a bo ut p la ce s an d v er bs o f s up po rt rel at ed to tr an spo rt.   G ra m ma r e xp la -na tio n o f « pr es ent pe rf ec t s impl e» : fo rm , u se a nd e xa m -pl es t o i nd iv id ua lly to s tu de nt s w ith l ev el 2 o

r 3 o

(18)

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(19)

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at ch in g En gl ish w or ds w ith Sp an ish. Le ve l 2 : t ra nl at in g En gl ish w or ds re la te d t o a ds i nt o Sp an ish.  Li st en in g: St ud en ts l ist en t o t he sa m e t ex t: Le ve l 1: s tu de nt s c ho os e th e c or re ct o pt io n. Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s ch oo se t ru e o r f al se .  C omm un ic ati on : Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s di sc us s e ac h o ne o f th e f ou r a ds l oo ki ng at t he p ic tu re s. Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s m at ch t he s lo ga ns t o th e a ds .  Wr iti ng : Le ve l 1 : s tu de nt s w rit e a bo ut a n a dv er -st isi ng p ro duc t Le ve l 2 : s tu de nt s co m pl et e t he t ab le w ith t he h ig hl ig ht ed w or ds b y l oo ki ng a t th e w rit in g  Ir re gu la r v er bs e xa m : le ve l 1 : t he y h av e t o co m pl et e 2 0 v er bs . Le ve l 2 :1 0 v er bs . 7. Th e t ea ch er m ai n-ta in

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ro du ct iv e w or k en vi ro nm en t w he re a ll t he st ud en ts h av e t he c ha nc e to d ev el op a nd a ch ie ve su cc es s i n t he ir l ea rn in g.  Pr ov id in g m ot iv at -in g a ct iv iti es i n t he re ad in g w he n e ac h st ud en t r ep re se nt s a ch ar ac te r.  Pr ov id in g f re qu en t fe ed ba ck w he n st ud en ts g iv

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(21)

R E VI S TA Q U R R IC U LU M , M A R ZO 2 7; 20 14 , P P. 2 9-5 3 49 14 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he tim e f or tes tin g.        15 . Th e t ea ch er a da pt s t he tim e a llo w ed a nd a llo te d fo r t as k c om pl et io n.  5 m in ut es m or e f or st ud en ts w ith l ev el 2. W hi le l ev

el 2 s

tu -de nt s w er e fi ni sh in g, th e t ea ch er p ro vi de d le ve

l 1 s

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el 2 s

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4.2. Findings Summary and Discussion

Before discussing the results, I considered it relevant to point out the teaching programme of this particular secondary school. According to this par-ticular programme, in the teaching-learning process it is important that teachers give an individualized attention to students. They should use reinforcement activities to achieve those objectives and implementing a plan for gifted, good and effective students by providing them with extra supporting material when-ever possible. This attention will be the regular pattern which serves to support, reinforces learning difficulties, and also helps to detect as soon as they occur. Such plans also help to foster the intellectual development of students with high intellectual capacities.

It is important to point out that the use of differentiation strategies presented in the researcher’s observation is different from the teacher indicated in the self-re-port. The three participants had three different views and different positions on the management of diversity. They sometimes tried to provide answers to students’ needs in order to satisfy them. Despite the fact that teachers reported that they always and often use differentiation strategies proposed by the researcher, in general, items 3, 5, 9, 12, 14, 16, 17 and 19 of the Observation guide have not been observed.

Therefore, the results show that these three teachers cannot be considered frequent users of differentiation strategies. Nevertheless, I believe that teachers did not use many differentiation strategies presented in the table due to several factors, such as motivation or contextual factors. These differences probably determine that teachers perceived the use of differentiation strategies positively in theory and negatively in classroom practice because they did not remember exactly if they use them or not.

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have observed, this was a very useful strategy because it increased weaker students’ academic achievement and social acceptance.

The third question deals with strategies that teachers use to adapt teaching to good and effective students. It has been observed that there was only one student diagnosed as gifted in 1º ESO but there were good and effective students in 4º ESO. Only one of the teachers implemented a plan for this gifted student (Appendix 7.4), the other two did not implement any plan but one of them gave students extra supporting material at the end of the unit. In my view, teachers have to take into consideration those good and effective students in order to understand how they think and learn. When the tasks presented in the classroom were too easy for them, teachers had to provide students with more difficult ones.

5. CONCLUSION AND PEDAGOGICAL IMPLICATIONS FOR FURTHER RESEARCH

Diversity is a reality in schools. As it was pointed out throughout this study, differentiation has become increasingly important over the past few years. Research has demonstrated that differentiated instruction is a valuable tool to increase en-gagement while accommodating for students’ differences (Tomlinson et al., 2003, Heacox, 2009). Everyday, teachers face with a very complex reality. Their main role is to try to respect all of these differences and adjust the teaching and learning to benefit each student. Therefore, the main goal of differentiated instruction is to maximise students’ growth and their individual success by meeting students where they are and designing instruction that matches learners’ needs (Jiménez Raya, 2013).

From my point of view, this continued research on the topic of attention to diversity and teachers’ use of strategies to meet the needs of students should show some improvements in the field of education. Teachers must understand and manage the differentiated instruction approach for successful achievement. The aim of this thesis has been to discover to what extent some teachers at a secondary school in English lessons employ differentiation strategies in dealing with students’ diverse learning progress in a mixed-ability classroom and how they implement them. Con-cerning observation, in general, the results indicated that the three teachers had a limited understanding of how to differentiate. Teachers understand the approach in general or in parts, but in items 3, 5, 12, 14, 16, 17, 19, they fail to use teaching strategies as a conscious, systematic way to address learning difficulties associated with students who come from diverse backgrounds. Additionally, classroom obser-vation sometimes differs from teachers’ use of differentiation strategies reported. The results of this study will provide the reader with some relevant insights into differentiation and raise awareness about what it actually means to differentiate in classrooms.

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first place, this study might be replicated in other secondary schools, for example in non-inclusive schools or private secondary schools in order to determine if the use of differentiation strategies is similar or not to this secondary school selected for the study. This will determine if the type of school chosen could influence the final results of the study. In the second place, it may be useful to do the same study at the beginning of the course, due to the fact that some teachers’ contextual, envi-ronmental or personal factors could affect the frequent use of strategies.

Finally, an interesting topic for further research could definitely be identify-ing the causes of teachers’ non-use of differentiation, that is, resistance to implement it at schools in English classes. (Hall & Hord, 2001; Moss & Osborn, 2010; http:// penningtonpublishing.com/blog/reading/10-reasons-why-teachers-resistdifferentia

ted -instruction/).

Fecha de recepción: octubre 2013; fecha de aceptación: diciembre de 2013.

REFERENCES

Burns, T. y Shadoian-Gersing, V. (2010). «The importance of effective teacher education for diversity», in OECD, Educating Teachers for Diversity: Meeting the Challenge. Paris: OECD Publishing.

Convery, A. y Coyle, D. (1999). Differentiation and Individual Learners: A Guide for Classroom Practice. London: Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research.

Deschenes, C., Ebeling, D. y Sprague, J. (1994). Adapting Curriculum and Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms: A Teacher’s Desk Reference. Bloomington, Indiana: Institute for the Study of Developmental Disabilities, Indiana University.

Dörnyei, Z. (2005). The Psychology of the Language Learner: Individual Differences in Second Language Acquisition. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.

Gardner, H. (1995). «Reflections on multiple intelligences: myths and messages». Phi Delta Kappan

76: 200-209.

—— (1999). Intelligence reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st century. New York: Basic Books.

Gundlach, M. (2011). The Roots for Differentiated Instruction in Teaching. [online]. Avaliable at:

http://www.brighthubeducation.com/teaching-methods-tips/106939 history-of-differen-tiated-instruction. [Retrieved 24th June 2013].

Jiménez Raya, M. (2009). «Hacia una pedagogía de la diversidad en el aprendizaje integrado de contenidos y lengua extranjera». En A. Bueno González, J.M. Nieto García y D. Cobo López (eds.), Atención a la diversidad en la enseñanza plurilingüe. Universidad de Jaén: Jaén. —— (2013). «Exploring pedagogy for autonomy in language education at university: possibilities and impossibilities». In M. Pérez Cañado (ed.), Competency-Based Language Teaching in the European Higher Education Area. Nueva York: Springer, pp. 119-138.

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Referencias

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