Differentiation in Years 5 and 6

By Danielle McGaughey, St Leonard’s College Years 5 and 6 Learning Enhancement Teacher and Deputy Head

As your child progresses through St Leonard’s College, their learning needs become increasingly diverse. In Years 5 and 6, we value the importance of catering for individual differences so that each student can flourish and reach their full learning potential.

Our Years 5 and 6 teachers are passionate, committed and always striving to achieve this through high quality differentiation. For every student, in every lesson, each day, from our students who require additional support to the high potential learners and every learner in between, differentiation is a high priority and is at the forefront of everything we do as teachers at the College.

Differentiation is not just a popular buzzword; it is a fundamental shift in how we approach teaching and learning. Our teachers understand that students have varying readiness levels, interests, and learning profiles. We firmly believe that every child deserves an education tailored to their unique needs.

In Years 5 and 6 we use the following four core differentiation teaching strategies to help our students thrive to the best of their abilities:

Content Differentiation

  • Tiered Instruction: Within the same lesson, our teachers create tiers of activities. All students learn the same fundamental skills and concepts but through varying modes and activities. The tiers aim to challenge students appropriately at their ability levels. Adjustments include varying complexity, materials, pacing, and form of expression. For example, students might choose between writing an essay or creating a research paper on the same topic.

Process Differentiation

  • Flexible Grouping: We arrange students into flexible groups based on their learning needs. Groups collaborate on projects, engage in inquiry-based tasks, or work on skill-building activities.
  • Learning Stations: Many of our classrooms feature learning stations with different activities. Students rotate through these stations, catering to their individual learning profiles.
  • Varied Instructional Strategies: Our teachers use a mix of approaches such as explicit and direct instruction, cooperative learning and problem-solving to not only accommodate varied learning styles but also help our students become actively involved in the learning process.

Product Differentiation

  • Choice Boards: Students have a menu of project options related to a topic. Each option allows for different levels of depth and complexity.
  • Tiered Assignments: Tasks vary in complexity, allowing students to demonstrate their understanding at different levels.
  • Student-Designed Projects: Often we encourage students to propose their own project ideas that directly link to the given topic and learning outcome, considering their interests and abilities.

Learning Environment

  • Physical Arrangement: Our classrooms are designed to accommodate different learning preferences. Quiet corners, collaborative spaces, and areas for independent work foster a conducive environment.
  • Materials Accessibility: We ensure that materials such as books, technology, and manipulatives are accessible to all students. Reading levels and content complexity are adjusted as needed.

At St Leonard’s College, differentiation is not just a strategy; it’s a way of thinking about teaching and learning. In Years 5, 6 and beyond we celebrate the diversity of our students and strive to provide an inclusive education that nurtures growth and curiosity. Together, let’s empower your child to thrive academically and develop a lifelong love for learning.