Teacher Tips: Changing Style for Student Levels

Today Teacher Kimberly shares with us how would she adjust her teaching style to accommodate students of different proficiency levels? 
Just to give a little background about myself: I live in Nevada with my awesome husband and two children. I have a Bachelor of Science Degree in Nursing and started my nursing career in 2008. I’ve worked in many different areas including neurology, trauma, orthopedics, and research. My hobbies include crafting and crocheting.
Qkids is awesome and unique in that classes are mixed with students of different ages and proficiency levels. Sometimes you get students who understand the material and breeze through the slides, while other times, you experience classes where, 1, 2 or all students need a little more assistance.  What do you do to keep the class interesting, fun and still meet the objectives of the lesson? More specifically, how would you teach a class with students of different proficiency levels? You want to avoid boring students who grasp the concepts quickly because at some point they may check out and stop listening, therefore not learn anything new.

Below is a list of things that I do that may help you, there is no guarantee that it’ll work, BUT it might!

Assess the abilities of students during the introductions…if you have time. (Sometimes it is difficult when you are on standby because most of the time, the class is already starting.) If you're not able to assess during intros, then try asking questions during the first couple of slides. You can ask yes/no questions and move on to open/ended questions, if applicable.

 When I am on the introduction slide, I usually ask some of these basic questions:

  • What’s your name?
  • How are you/How do you feel?
  • How old are you?
  • What did you do today or what are you going to do today (depending on the level)?
If I notice students struggling a bit, I would reword my questions to:

  • Is your name ___________________? (the name that is showing up in the window. If the name is hard to pronounce, I usually play it off and say: “Is your name Koby? Momo?)- You can then have the student repeat by prompting: “It is nice to meet you! Can you say “My name is ___________.” And then praise.
  • Are you happy? Sad? Mad? (while also modeling the emotions)
  • Are you 5 years old, 6 years old, 7 years old, etc..? If they are still not able to answer this question, transition into another question…
  • Ask specific activity questions: Did you play outside? Did you do homework? Did you play a sport? OR you can ask, what do you like to do?
  • Asking students questions about themselves will help you build a good rapport with them and set the tone for the class.
NOTE: These are just sample questions. You can ask the students anything you want.
When playing games- I try to keep all students engaged by asking them to do different things. For example:

  • When playing the "Magnify" game, I usually say the word, and prompt students to repeat. When I notice a difference in proficiency levels, I tend to have the students repeat the word in different ways. I ask them to say the word slowly, say it a little faster and then say it EVEN faster. I feel that having the students say the word slowly will allow you to listen for students' pronunciation and correct it if needed. Win-win!

  • When playing “task” slides where there is more than one activity- I tend to ask students questions and elicit responses as a group and then ask one specific question per student… just to keep students involved and engaged. For example, in the demo 1 classroom, there was a task slide where it asked “What is Koby doing?” then there are prompts that say “jumping, running, etc…”
  • Scenario one: I would say “Students, what is Koby doing?” The answer would be “running.” I would model running, and then ask the students to repeat the word, and then I would say, “_____, do you like running?” or something like that and do this until each student has had a turn.

  • For the "spelling" activity, when I notice students struggling, I use the text box to help.  I usually sound out the word and then spell the word slowly to see if the students can complete the word before I type the whole thing out. I will keep repeating the word until all students are finished. If it is taking up too much time, I just call on 2 students (1 who finished, and 1 who didn't) and ask them to say the word and move on to the next word or activity.
  • Also, when there are students who spell the word quickly and are waiting, you can ask that particular student(s) to repeat the word once or twice while the other students finish up OR ask the student to make up a sentence…

  • For animation slides, (where students have to repeat dialogue), I would have the students repeat the dialogue as a group and then ask 2 students (1 who is proficient and 1 who needs a little help) to repeat the dialogue. To ensure that the one who needs a little more practice talks, I mute the other student I called on and listen for the dialogue. When they finish I praise BOTH afterward. “Nice job! Diamonds for you!” J
  • Also, I tend to pair up students that way so that the students can help each other out. If the more proficient student can say the sentence/dialogue correctly, it may inspire the less proficient student to listen and say it with them.  J
These are some things that I do. I hope it is helpful. I would love to know what all you wonderful teachers do too!
Thanks for reading and Happy teaching!

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