Sunday, February 14, 2010

Differentiation in Singapore Classrooms

A friend in another country who requested some information about what happens in Singapore schools. He wanted to know more about the differentiation process. How does this take place in the classrooms? He said that he read that there are lesson after schools for children who have extra needs.

Differentiation is a continuing issue in schools here. chools are always striving to best do this. No wonder there have been quite a few request to conduct in-house training on differentiated instruction.

I think there must be variations on how this is done. But as a system, there are at least two things that happens in every school. One, Learning Support Porgramme (LSM) is a differentiated instruction for primary one and two students who are not entirely ready for the regular instruction. In many schools, these pupils are pulled out from their regular classes and work with a teacher who works with fewer children (not more than 10). The regular class size is 30. The content is the same as the regular programme. However, pupils get more attention because of small class size and the teachers are in a better position to diagnose and remediate. They may also use slightly different pedagogy to enage these pupils - more concrete activities, perhaps.

Another is the Foundation Maths Programme at Primary 5 and Primary 6. This is content differentiation. The students review work from the first four years in an age appropriate way even as they learn a bit of new materials. This is to ensure that the students are ready to join one of the course of study in grade seven (secondary school). They use a different textbook and they are usually in one class. In some schools with very few students in the Foundation Maths programme, they will be pulled out to do maths with another teacher during the mathematics periods.

It is alos not uncommon for teachers to conducrt remedial lessons after 1 p.m. Most of our schools end formal curriculum around 1 p.m. The afternoon is reserved for other non-academic activities, field trips as well as remedial and enrichment lessons.

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