When it comes to differentiation, we, at some point, may ask ourselves if we are actually catering for all learners in our group, and that is probably one of the hardest things to address as teachers. Luckily, there are ways to make it possible in real practice. Heterogeneous groups are commonplace in the EFL classroom, either because of their different language proficiency levels, varied interests or rather different learning rythms.
One way to cope with this is by means of choice boards, which are activity grids where learners can find from simple to more advanced activities for them to choose according to their level, and progressing as individually needed. Some things to consider when planning choice boards are: –to think of the core content you wish your students to learn –to consider Bloom´s levels of cognitive processes (Bloom´s taxonomy) from lower (remember-understand-apply) to higher order skills (analyze, evaluate, create) which can guide us in the selection of multilevel activities –to comply with the Universal Design for Learning (UDL) guidelines, by offering multiple ways of engagement, representation and expression of content.Here you can find the link to the UDL bundle: https://drive.google.com/file/d/13fu1227TMyoT2HkvnXX0Ba8jkTej565G/view?usp=sharing –to indicate the level so students can choose accordingly (in the photo below you can see different stars in each grid, but it could be points, numbers or any other level symbol)
Choice boards are great tools for offering optionality when teaching grammar, vocabulary, pronunciation,reading and listening receptive skills or speaking and writing production, or even projects and tasks.
In this choice board they need to complete in pairs four activities starting in the middle grid, which is a good option if you want to make one the activities compulsory. In this middle grid I use the deliberate pair/group+individual work dynamic in which, first, students are required to work orally on the exercise in pairs, and later write the answers individually. Then, students choose three other activities, with the possibility of completing others, either in class or at home. A good way to integrate reinforcement and extension activities in one choice board!
Other activities proposed in this board are a mind map where they need to deconstruct the text and identify the main ideas to graphically organize it. Graphic organizers make students more able to identify key ideas, scaffold information and visually organize them, which is great to cater for different learning styles and support dual instruction (written+visual). Padlet, as you know, is a collaborative wall which I sometimes use as a collaborative dictionary as well. The possibility of adding images, audio, or gifs to the words makes it very motivating for learners. It can then be used for vocabulary revision (online or on pdf document) before a test. Two stars indicate that this activity requires lower order skills. The Twitter activity requires a bigger effort since they will need to re-read the text so as to be able to summarize it in just 20 words. The classic Snap game is in another cell for them to practise matching words and definitions. Each player is given a pile and place it face down. They will turn up a card at the same time, and if the word matches the definition, the first player to say “snap” will win the cards. The goal of the game is to win all cards. The Timeline activity is similar to the first one, but information gathered should be sequenced in order of events. I really love Memory games when teaching vocabulary. It works wonders, especially with low performing students. And Wordwall offers a very simple way to create them.
The last activity is the Ping-pong translation.It is based on Gianfranco Conti´s technique. In pairs, each has a sheet with the same sentences in English, but student A has half of the translations and student B has the other half. They take it in turns to guess the translated versions of their missing sentences and score from 1 to 3 points depending on their level of accuracy; helping students work on language structure, process meaning and increase understanding of the text.