Seven ways to implement differentiation in Yacapaca

My thanks to new member Yasmin Sheikh of Whitfield School in Barnet for asking why we show each question for 10 seconds before displaying the options. I realised that although we have worked like stink build opportunities for differentiation into every point of the Yacapaca process, I have never really explained them. Here, then is chapter and verse.
  1. Implicit differentiation: thinking time between question and options
    This gives students time to challenge themselves to get the answer before receiving the restricted possibilities of the options. This is a higher level of challenge, and it gives the student who manages it a great deal of confidence. You can gently encourage this by applauding the behaviour, but please don’t push students to do it if they don’t feel ready.
  2. Differentiation by time: Question speed
    Different students think at different speeds, but this does not correlate particularly with ability. Yacapaca times each answer from each student with an accuracy of 100th of a second. It uses this information to set the timeout for every question just fast enough that the student’s attention will not wander, but slow enough that they have time to think it through. The aim is to achieve the ‘flow state’ in which optimal learning happens. We actively encourage students to think the question through and use the full time available, by rewarding them with more motivation points. You can help them by encouraging this too. It’s also great exam prep.
  3. Differentiation by task: support for sub-setting
    There is no limit to the number of different sets you can put one student into, so you can set different quizzes for different students, even within classes that you do not normally set. Here’s a screencast on how to get the most out of the student set structure.  Note that most of the buttons you see in this screencast have since been replaced with 3 dropdowns (menus). All the same commands are there, just in a neater format.
  4. Differentiation by ability: revision is automatically fully individualised learning
    For the popular subjects and syllabi, revision is enabled for your students by default. All they have to do is select the time they want to spend, and the system will choose questions that are at their level, and only on topics they have covered in class. It even sets the speed of question presentation to be optimum for that particular student.
  5. Differentiation by ability: homework works similarly to Revision
    Yacapaca has a separate category called ‘homework’ that is different from setting a quiz to be done at home. With Homeworks, you set the topic and the time, nothing else. The system uses the Revision to select questions at exactly the right level for each student.
  6. Differentiation by outcome: peer feedback writing
    After approximately one question in ten, we ask the student to write useful feedback for other students. This open-ended task is entirely optional; there is a ‘skip’ button for those who do not want to participate, or who have nothing to say about that particular question. Students who do well at this tend to be intrinsically motivated, but there are also rewards and badge to be won.
  7. Differentiation by motivation: peer feedback voting
    We take the best student-written statements and present them to other students to be voted on. The real reason for this is that choosing between two statements engages students in higher-order thinking around the issue of the question. It also helps us to choose the most useful statements for future presentation. Like the writing task, voting is optional. Some students can’t cope and that’s OK. It is not enforced and it does not contribute to their summative assessment. Students do, however, get immediate feedback because after voting, they are shown how other students voted.

…and possibly the most significant of all, support for your differentiation strategy.

by giving you a detailed analysis of each students’ attainment, topic-by-topic, Yacapaca gives you the information at your fingertips to make effective personalised interventions in the classroom.

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