In my previous article, I questioned the ability of existing resources to adequately meet the varying needs of learners in “gradeless” systems and felt they could not. That said, what would the ideal set of teaching resources look like? If I had the funds and manpower, I would create them as a unified set of materials spanning across all subject areas and grade levels, and I wouldn’t stop there – I would also differentiate and scaffold them so that teachers had the ready-made tools needed to effectively teach their classes. And how would I go about achieving this?
At Grade-Level Resources:
First, I’d start by mapping out the language and content for at-grade-level resources. When doing so, I wouldn’t look at each subject area as an island; instead, I would look at how they could interconnect language-wise and content-wise and I wouldn’t limit the process to mainstream subjects like math and science – specialist subjects such as Physical Education (PE) and Modern Foreign Languages (MFL) would be included as well. In this way, a unified package of resources could be developed, and not just across a single grade level but across all grade levels, thus ensuring both horizontal and vertical coherence. The only subject I would leave out at this point (to be dealt with later) would be Language Arts (LA). For now, LA would simply provide a reference point for language acquisition and ensure that the vocabulary used in the above-mentioned resources would match the students’ ability.
Scaffolding and Differentiating:
Once at-grade-level resources were mapped out, I would look at ways to scaffold them so that within each subject area, different levels of text and sets of questions could be developed to ensure that an entire class could focus on the same concept, but learners would have the ability to access the content and demonstrate their knowledge at their own level. Within each set of levelled resources, different learning styles would also be thought of and accommodated.
And finally, the LA resources would come last as the levelled sets of non-fiction and fiction readers and resources created would be based on the language and content being covered in all subject areas. In doing so, LA lessons would become the tie that binds all subjects together and serve to enhance student comprehension.
Taking the time to cross-link, scaffold and differentiate the teaching resources would ensure that a solid continuum without gaps or pockets exists and that regardless of grade level, subject area or ability, the proper tools would be made available for students to succeed. Now, it’s just a dream, but perhaps one day it will become a reality.
If you could design your own set of teacher resources, what would they look like? How would you go about creating them?