Teaching for diverse abilities is a huge challenge and, very often, we find ourselves retrofitting certain components of a course to cater for the needs of these different profiles. On one hand, we have high achieving and gifted students who are purely mastery-oriented and on the other hand, we have unfocused and less attentive students who constantly grouse about the system and do nothing at all. The ugly truth is that the number of students who belong to the second category is gradually escalating.

Mirror Cards

One of the motivating activities that we can apply at the very beginning of the semester is to give them ‘mirror cards’ and ask them to write whatever they feel now and draw a smiley face that clearly displays these feelings. The final thing to do is write a future message about where they would like to be and what they would like to achieve at the end of the semester/module. Once the course finishes, give them their mirror cards back and generate an open class discussion about their feelings. In my case, all the learners forgot that they had written such cards before and they were really moved when they received them after 4 months.

petek 2   Coaching

Another solution to accommodate the needs of these learners and thus increase their motivation could be learning coaching sessions during office hours. Together with the students we can set realistic short term goals and closely track the improvement of them.

As for the weak learners who have low language learning aptitude, these sessions can turn into language coaching ones where they specifically work on grammar and vocabulary  and use the target structures in a productive way.

Revisiting mastered concepts with which they once had problems can refresh their confidence and increase their motivation. Once all the goals are achieved, it is time to celebrate them!


Learner Certificates

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This semester, I prepared them special certificates and gave them ‘good luck’ pencils to celebrate their success and they were truly happy.

You can visit http://www.123certificates.com/ for free printable certificates.



Students in Charge

My last suggestion is handing over some control to students. If they take ownership of what is done in class, they have less room to endlessly criticize the system. For instance, Fridays can be open-format days and they can decide on the type of the activities they would like to do or select topics& materials they would like to cover.

petek 3By Petek Sirin