Agony Uncle answers your questions
I am struggling to cope with the range of ability in my classes. ICT presents a lot of problems. I worry that I am not equally supporting each student as I seem to spend a lot of time with the weaker ones, some of whom can't even locate their work from one week to the next. I feel under siege.
First, never be afraid to ask advice of colleagues. They might have a few tricks up their sleeve or share the same problem, in which case you can sympathise with each other over a coffee. It is always hard when you plan a lesson and find that half the class complete the exercise with ease in 10 minutes flat while the other half are still trying to work out how to log on.
What to do? Early on, make formative judgments about the standard of your students. You might then consider grouping weak with strong, or weak on one side, strong on the other. The merits of the former are obvious, although you are relying on student co-operation. The latter sounds a bit elitist but in fact allows you to address a group should you need to extend or support certain individuals. There is nothing worse than a room full of frustrated students calling out your name, so remember to scan the class and not get into the habit of having your back to students for too long. Be sure to have the follow-up exercise to hand, possibly with explanatory notes so that you can just hand over the materials with the briefest of explanations. Better still, put the material into a shared area and at the start of the academic year make sure everyone knows where these can be found.