Teaching Heterogeneous Classes Betty Simelmits

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Teaching Heterogeneous Classes

  • Betty Simelmits

What is Heterogeneous Class?

  • every class out there…

  • It is a class that consists of learners who display a number of differences in their learning abilities, motivation, previous exposure to learning, learning style, personality, attitude, and....hundred thousand other features that anyone can think of.

  • Students are different in many ways. Some are quick, others are slow. Some are confident, others are shy. Some like working with friends, others are happier working alone.

Our Challenges / Obstacles

  • A momentary classroom commotion can make us believe that we are useless as teachers…

  • We often feel out of control…

  • We sometimes feel trapped in the problems of management…

  • It is difficult to “understand” the pupils

  • What is the best way to teach???

  • How can we ensure that our pupils perform their maximum potential?

If we want to ensure that all pupils perform to their maximum potential, we must: 1. cope with the challenges, identify the problems, and deal with them accordingly. 2.We should reach the pupils in class and decide on techniques and strategies that could be used

Multiple Intelligence

  • What is Multiple Intelligence?

  • Conceived by Howard Gardner, Multiple Intelligences are seven different ways to demonstrate intellectual ability.

  • Visual, verbal, logical, kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal

Learning Styles

Visual learners

  • People who have a visual learning style learn best if a major component of the material or lesson is something they can see or watch. This learner works best with written material and instructions, diagrams, posters, and demonstrations.

  • Flashcards, using the board, colored markers

  • Reading by looking at pictures or films

Auditory learners

  • People who have an auditory learning style learn best if there is an oral component to the material being learned. These learners filter the information they hear and store the relevant data but don't necessarily form pictures around it.

  • Verbal instructions, taped lectures and face to face instruction work best.

Kinesthetic learners

  • People who have a kinesthetic or tactile learning style learn best when they can touch or feel what they are learning about. The use of their body and feelings are very important to these learners so hands-on projects work best for them.

  • Hands-on experience, variety of classroom activities, moving around, interactive boards, cut-paste activities

What is your learning style??


10 Principles

  • Scarlett O’Hara

  • Pace

  • Setting up routines

  • Interest

  • Collaboration

  • Variety

  • Individualization

  • Personalization

  • Choice

  • Enlarging the circle

  • If today was bad, chances are that tomorrow will be better..

  • Pace :

  • We should work according to our yearly plan, weekly plan and lesson plans.

  • We should handle each activity at the pace suitable to it in order to avoid making our pupils board or frustrated.

  • Setting up routines:

    • good organization helps to promote good control!
    • Pupils can know what is expected from them
    • Set rules and classroom habits
    • Special place on the board for class work / homework assignments
    • Presentation of certain activities on assigned days (dictations, reading activities ..)

Interest :

  • Interest :

  • as soon as a group of pupils loses interest, they are likely to cause trouble or create the kind of distraction that will focus on them.

    • We should ask the kind of questions that will create maximum students involvement.
    • We should use attractive visuals, activities, games, role-plays, competitions
    • Let students prepare some topics of their own, “All about Me” project
    • Change activities all the time!!
    • Experience and success for all pupils.

Collaboration :

  • Collaboration :

  • working together and cooperating, pupils use one another.. TWO EYES SEE BETTER THAN ONE.

    • Group work, peer work, Jigsaw, dialogues
    • Use peer-teaching.
    • Use the more advanced students as peer aids. Use grouping and pair work accordingly.
    • If an activity lends itself to a heterogeneous group, simply split the class into two groups and modify the activity to fit their levels. Or, find out which students are compatible with each other and pair them up.
    • Let students interview one another, talk to each other and to you

Variety :

  • Variety :

  • a variety of activities and techniques is important, they can accommodate different levels in class.

    • Follow your course book, which contains a variety of task, but also find some supplemental materials
    • Always have a more advanced activity on-hand for the more advanced students. They usually finished before the lower level students and had extra time simply doing nothing. Come prepared with more advanced activities specially for them.

  • Individualization :



  • It helps us to deal with the weaker pupils and keep everyone challenged, interested and occupied with tasks.

    • Work cards, leveled worksheets, Learning centers, portfolio projects, reading and book reports, individual writing, listening activities etc..
    • Try to set three levels of the same activities / worksheets / tasks – an easy version, a more difficult version and the most difficult version. Make the tasks more difficult mostly by reducing the amount of help you give.

Full Class Input – Different Tasks

  • Pupils receive the same input in class. Then, based on the common initial input, pupils can do either different amount of the same task or different task types which correspond to different levels of difficulty

  • Allow pupils to work according to their own level, their own pace and their own interests.


  • Personalization:

  • pupils must feel they are related to the class, that they count!!

  • They need feedback in order to learn.

  • Use notes or stickers for praising and encouraging good work and behavior..

  • Motivate your pupils!!


  • Choice:

  • allow pupils many possibilities for choosing- tasks, questions that can be answers in many different ways, and activities.

  • Ask open-ended questions and encourage creativity without limiting the students to single no or yes answer

  • Enlarging the circle : active attention, asking questions, encouraging greater participation, provide challenges

Remember !

  • If you don’t create a procedure – your pupils will create one!

  • Be consistent! Be fair! Be clear! Be creative!!

  • Plan your lessons according to the 10 principles

  • Accommodate different learning styles in your lessons

  • Grade materials – not pupils!

  • Organize tasks to make them “learner friendly”

  • Accept and understand the learner

  • Be generous with thanks. Let your pupil know that you appreciate their efforts - rewards are more effective than punishments!

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