Video transcript – Killarney Heights Public School innovative differentiation in Mathematics

Vicki Johnson, Principal:
My name is Vicki Johnson. I'm the Principal of Killarney Heights Public School. Over the last two years, we have been implementing differentiated math groups across the whole school, to ensure our students have 21st century skills and competencies to collaborate and problem solve in mathematics.

Susan Tickle, Deputy Principal:
So what we're doing at Killarney Heights is future focused because we're not just differentiating our mathematics curriculum, but what we're doing is providing differentiated pre-tests for the students so that we are grouping them into fluid math groups. And within each of those math groups, we are leveraging technology, we have explicit teaching, we have consolidation activities, and we also have some game based learning as well. So we're not only trying to engage our students, but we're actually ensuring that our students are working at the right level for a particular strand of mathematics. And so that they have the right level of challenge and support in their learning. So we're providing a very individualised approach, whilst also ensuring that we leverage technology to do that. The guiding pedagogy is assessment for learning, and differentiation, which is something that we all do in New South Wales public schools. However, what we're doing is a little bit different, in that each of our strands in mathematics, and our sub-strands have differentiated pre-tests, which the students sit so we know exactly where the students are moving into a unit of work. And we're able to put them into the right groups, and then we're able to plan and provide teaching, learning, activities and lessons that cater to our students' needs.

Lisa McKinnon, Teacher:
I differentiate in numeracy by identifying students' prior knowledge. Pre-test informed me of what students already know, and allow me to form ability based groupings.

Student 1:
They group us in four groups, and by using the pre-test that we do, like one or two weeks before we do the week of activity, is about that subject.

Text on screen: Today, our NSW Public Schools are preparing students for jobs that have not been invented, and to solve problems, create and collaborate.

Student 2:
Because, if you're not strong at a point, and then you're with people that are, you would never get a chance to put your hand up, and say your answer.

Text on the screen: Differentiated pre-tests are given to students to ensure accuracy of placement and for teachers to be able to program for students effectively and personalise their learning.

Lisa McKinnon, Teacher:
Questions in pre-tests are carefully matched to syllabus outcomes. Ability-based groupings are fluid and change on a weekly basis. Post-testing informs me of what strategies students have retained, and what strategies need to be re-visited as a whole class, group, or at an individual level.

Text on the screen: [Students are placed into fluid groupings for maths groups which are levelled to provide opportunities for support or extension in their learning.]

James Hull, Teacher:
As we know, all students have a unique learning style, and to cater for this learning style within the classroom, we differentiate our math groups to encourage deeper learning and student enjoyment.

Text on the screen: Explicit teaching, teaching and learning activities, technology, written and game-based activities are all differentiated to engage and improve student learning outcomes.

Student 3:
I prefer working in collaborative groups, as people know a lot more, in different areas. Like, in math, my friends will be great at math, which I don't, I'm not very good with, but, they'll teach me, help me out. And then, like, in multiplication, fractions, and angles, I help them out, and we get through tasks a lot quicker, and you learn more things with friends. And I find it more fun than sitting and listening to a teacher talk.

Text on the screen: Our teaching and learning activities foster the 21st century skills of critical thinking, collaboration, problem solving, communication and increased digital fluency skills.

Student 4:
Sometimes when you're struggling, it helps to have someone at the same level who may know a little bit more about that, to help you. And when they need a bit of help about something that they don't know very well then you can help them.

Text on the screen: Our focus is student-centred learning where the teacher facilitates student learning.

James Hull, Teacher:
We have an explicit teacher-led activity, which will give the students one on one time with the teacher to ensure that they are learning the exact things that they need to. We also encourage students to try their best with hands-on concrete activities, which engages those kinaesthetic learners. We also include a consolidating worksheet activity, which allows students to practise their writing skills, their written work. And, there is also a computer activity, which will encourage technological skills within student learning. Using these different activities and approaches to mathematics allows students to achieve in different ways. As all students have a different style, they also have a different opportunity to achieve and demonstrate their knowledge. Some students prefer the digital activities. Other students prefer hands-on concrete manipulation to demonstrate their knowledge and have those little successes that boost confidence and also enjoyment within mathematics groups.

Text on the screen: [Students complete a post test at the end of the teaching of the mathematics sub strand. These post-tests give further diagnostic information to the teachers and provide quality feedback to students.]

Student 4:
Some people might find that explicit teaching would be better for them, and some might think that the game just doesn't work well for them. Like, they might find it hard to work in different areas and different ways might make it harder for them.

Susan Tickle, Deputy Principal:
So there's a wide body of research on differentiation and Carol Tomlinson is probably one of the lead experts in that. But, also, the differentiated pre-tests, really come from some work by John Hattie. In that, what they do is they provide really explicit student feedback, and let the students know exactly what type of content and skills, in the sub-strands that they need to work on, in order to move to the next progression in mathematics.

End of transcript

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