Is learning necessary for every student
Inclusive lessons: the right task for every student
All the experts agree on one thing: Inclusion, that is, "the natural togetherness and learning of very different people"1 is a big challenge. Of course, this is especially true for all those who have to implement this high standard in practice. In addition to the general school conditions, the legal stumbling blocks and numerous external factors, as an educator you are mainly faced with the question in everyday school life: How do I organize the lessons? How do I take care of the necessary customization? And how do I design suitable tasks so that each student can learn well according to his or her own requirements?
The Erich Kästner School in Hamburg has 20 years of experience with inclusion. Headmaster Pit Katzer identifies the following as the core of inclusive teaching: "target-differentiated learning on a common subject through individualized teaching, cooperative forms of learning and pronounced action orientation that are closely linked to a concept for social learning."2
Now, of course, it is obvious that not every student can work with tasks that have only one solution and exactly one correct solution, especially in heterogeneous classes. Highly individualized teaching is required - and with it the creation, testing and continuous checking of teaching materials. But how do open forms of learning, individualized teaching and binding performance goals fit together?
This is how individualized teaching works3
It starts with the right learning environment. Differentiated learning opportunities ensure that weaker students receive the support they need, while the more powerful are challenged in the class with demanding tasks. You can and should formulate challenging work assignments - but make sure that students with learning difficulties have the necessary help.
Students learn well from students: Establish mutual learning
When students help their classmates, both benefit: the weaker can learn from the stronger, while the latter deepen their new knowledge through the transfer. Whether learning sponsorships, expert systems, learning through teaching or learning coaching: the possibilities are diverse. You know best which of the methods are appropriate for your class.
The right task culture: Challenging with several possible solutions
For fear of overwhelming the students with suddenly only setting "very easy" tasks, this would simply be the wrong approach. Demanding tasks are necessary for independent learning - exercises from the students' world, which allow different solutions and can also be worked on through teamwork. It may be necessary to give the students more time so that they can really actively deal with the subject. The learning effect increases significantly as a result - the extra time is therefore very well invested. Ultimately, it is not about memorizing knowledge, but also about being able to evaluate, transfer and apply it independently.
Design the right tasks: exercises for the inclusive classroom
The ideal task is on the one hand challenging, on the other hand it can be solved by any student and is linked to learning progress and a sense of achievement. The initial impulse is crucial: it must be suitable as a starting point for every student. Different learning paths then lead from this impulse to the goal.
So that you can differentiate between the tasks in a meaningful way, ask yourself the following questions:
- Which content structuring and instructions are possible?
- Are there any cross-connections or networking options?
- Where does it get difficult? How many work steps are necessary?
The more individual steps are necessary, the more difficult the task becomes. If you specify concrete sub-steps, you make it easier for students with poor learning skills to find solutions. The fairly general task of discussing something, for example, is more complicated than asking the students to first name three pros and cons as a first step.
Based on the Conference of Ministers of Education and Cultural Affairs, six key factors for "good" tasks can be defined:
- They guide you step by step.
- They provide assistance.
- Your level of difficulty is appropriate.
- · You don't just have one fixed solution.
- They are activating and motivating.
- They do not create any pressure to perform in the student and are not afraid of being assessed.
Try makes you smart
Watch your students study and question your lesson materials and plans. Every now and then it may be necessary to make adjustments or rethink exercises and procedures. Also consider, for example, whether a relatively "rigid" worksheet is actually appropriate for the task at hand, or whether alternatives should be used.
Despite all the theory and all good advice, the following applies in the end: the bottom line is that inclusion primarily needs courage - the courage to "just start". Over time, you will certainly learn and gain valuable experience. And that is - in the spirit of "learning together as a matter of course" - ultimately a good thing.
1 Definition taken from: "One school for everyone - implementing inclusion in secondary education" by mittendrin e. V., Stephanie Stangier and Eva-Maria Thoms, ISBN 978-3-8346-0891-8, Verlag an der Ruhr, 2012, p. 9
2 Taken from: "Success conditions for school inclusion - practical report on secondary level I from the Erich-Kästner-Schule, Hamburg" by Pit Katzer, magazine "schulmanagement", edition 5/2012, p. 18, www.schulmanagement-online.de/smt20120518
3 Follow-up passages based on "Inclusion step by step - opportunities for school and teaching" by Gundula Dechow, Konstanze Reents and Katja Tews-Vogler, ISBN 978-3-589-03949-4, Cornelsen Scriptor, 2013
"Inclusion step by step - opportunity for school and teaching" by Gundula Dechow, Konstanze Reents and Katja Tews-Vogler, Cornelsen Librarian, ISBN 978-3-589-03949-4
"One school for everyone - implementing inclusion in secondary education" by mittendrin e. V., Stephanie Stangier and Eva-Maria Thoms, Verlag an der Ruhr, ISBN 978-3-8346-0891-8
"Success conditions for school inclusion - practical report on secondary level I from the Erich-Kästner-Schule, Hamburg" by Pit Katzer, magazine "schulmanagement", issue 5/2012, www.schulmanagement-online.de/smt20120518
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