I currently teach a mixed ability Year 7 RS class. They are a bright bunch, with oodles of potential, which has made teaching it as a non-specialist all the more enjoyable.
The only problem I have encountered is that they were very self-aware. Students would actively question differentiated material and felt they were being singled out. Totally understandable, of course.
I spent the following weekend at a film festival with friends, and had a ‘bam, bright light!’ moment when they started allocating positions in the queue using wrist bands!!
£1 and 100 assorted wrist bands from Amazon later and subtle wristband differentiation was born.
The idea is simple. When wanting to differentiate into groups or by task, appear to give out wristbands at the door at random.
After introducing the lesson topic, you can then get students into groups via wristband. Subtle, no arguments and a great way to increase competition in the classroom!
Students absolutely LOVED the idea and kept them on for weeks to come. I had several emails from parents saying how much students enjoyed the lesson. Little do they know it was a simple group work lesson spiced up with some wristbands!!