EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

Inquiry Question:
How to differentiate learning goals, materials and processes of the tasks to engage and promote
positive outcomes of students with diversity in Chinese class in Australian schools.

Description /Critical incidents description
This paper will focus on a critical issue which arose during my first placement in a Chinese
language class. The Chinese language course were provided as an extended support for students
who want to learn Chinese in the afternoon after their day school or at the weekend. Therefore,
students come from different schools to the site that is chosen for the class once a week. The teacher
of the class is one of my mentor teachers during my placement who is an experienced non-native
speaker teacher of Chinese language in an Australian primary school. Students in the class are from
a wide range of year levels and backgrounds. For instance, the class which will be focused on in this
paper involves students from reception to year 6. Some of students may have parent who can speak
Chinese (but they use English as the common language at home), others are local Australian kids
who have never learned or been exposed to Chinese language before. This implies that students'
learning needs are so different that implementing differentiation is significant for promoting
positive outcomes of all students and facilitating inclusive classroom environment.

My mentor teacher and I arrived at the classroom earlier before the class began. She brought a wide
variety of teaching and learning materials for students from different levels. She shared her lesson
plan with me and we had a brief discussion about the teaching and learning process of the lesson.
The lesson plan showed that students were going to be divided into two groups based on their year
levels and each group were planned to have different learning tasks accordingly. After the class
began, I sat at the back of the classroom and observed while the teaching greeted the whole class
and gave the introduction of the lesson topic. Then the teacher set the students into two groups (yr
R-2 and yr 3-6), explained the tasks for each group and gave them different learning materials and
worksheets respectively. The main task for group of lower year levels was making a puppet play of
greetings and simple dialogue about basic personal information while the group of higher year
levels focused on reading and getting information from personal profiles in Chinese and finally
making one by themselves. During students working on their tasks, I observed that the teacher
worked and helped with the group of lower year levels most of time. Consequently, the students in
the group of higher year levels worked by themselves and went to the teacher for help at times
because there were some new Chinese words involved and it was difficult for students to work them
out without help. Noticing the students were facing some difficulties, I joined the group of higher

1
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

levels and provided support so that they didn't have to stop and ask for help frequently. My mentor
teacher was happy to see me working with students and it seemed learning processes of students
were more fluently and efficiently.

Feelings and Evaluation
Before the start of class, I was wondering how the lesson would be designed and structured in terms
of teaching and learning materials, goals and process of the activities to meet learning needs of all
students because there is a considerable diversity of learners with regard to their ages, year levels,
linguistic and cultural backgrounds etc.. When I saw the teacher grouping students according to
their year levels and set the tasks in different types, complexities for each group, I felt that the
teacher took learners' diversity in consideration so that she could modify and adjust teaching and
learning content, process and products to meet the needs of students with different learning abilities
and preferences. This can be seen, to some extent, as an evidence of achieving 'knowing students
with diverse linguistic, cultural backgrounds and differentiating teaching to meet the specific
learning needs of students across the full range of abilities', which is demonstrated in the standard of
professional knowledge for proficient teachers in Australian Professional Standards for Teachers
(AITSL 2014). Considering the teaching and learning materials that the teacher had prepared, it was
noticeable that there were various resources and worksheets to facilitate teaching and learning
experience, including panda puppets, instruction for puppet play and equipment for recording the
play for low level group as well as access to internet and several profiles of famous figures
providing as reading materials and models for personal profile production for high level group. The
preparation of these learning resources may involve tremendous amount of work and consume
considerable time. In this way, I believe that the teacher apply the standard of professional practice
for proficient teachers in relation to 'selecting/ creating and using a range of resources, including
ICT, to engage students in their learning' (AITSL 2014). It is also explained in the South Australian
Teaching for Effective Learning Framework guide (DECD 2014) that teachers need to use rich
sources to design and organise for learning tasks in order to implement effective teaching.

However, I realized that good intention and adequate preparation did not always lead to perfect
practice as the dynamic nature of teaching and learning in classroom. As caring of students is one of
the important components in 'the code of ethics' for teachers (Groundwater-Smith et al. 2011, p. 30),
I felt it was appropriate for the teacher to provide more care and support to students from lower year
levels because they may be more dependent on teachers during learning process due to their age and
face more learning difficulties comparing with older kids. And the teacher supported students of

2
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

more abilities in the way of setting higher expectation, providing more challenging task and
opportunity for self and group exploration as well as responding to their inquiries. However, I felt
that the support for the students in group of higher year levels might be insufficient because I
noticed that they were struggling with some new knowledge and their learning pace was slow and it
was difficult for the teacher to pay attention to both groups and give immediate responses to them at
the same time. Therefore I decided to join in the group of more abilities to help because I thought
teachers should be responsible and provide an environment that promotes the positive social and
academic outcomes of all students as applying the code of ethic for teachers (Groundwater-Smith et
al. 2011, p. 31).

Critical Analysis
It can be seen that the teacher incorporate differentiation as an important teaching strategy under the
situation of the incident. Experts define differentiation as an approach to teaching in which teachers
actively adjust curricula, teaching strategies, materials, learning tasks and production to address the
diverse needs of individuals and small groups in terms of students' readiness level, differing abilities,
interests and preferred styles of learning in the same class (Bearne & Tomlinson, cited in Hall 2002,
p. 1; Rock et al. 2008, p. 32). There are some characteristics of the class in this incident making
differentiation an essential approach for teachers to engaging all learners and promoting inclusive
education in that situation. The students in the classroom are across a wide range of year levels from
reception to year six. This means that the students are different in preferable learning styles learning
paces and the curriculum content is different for them as well. It can be seen in the content
description of the Australian curriculum for Chinese language that three stages in terms of
foundation to year 2, year 3 and 4, year 5 and 6 have been identified and the focus of language
learning moves from basic understanding of the concept and nature of Chinese language and oral
production of the language to a higher level of language proficiency and reflecting skills in
language learning as the year level grows (ACARA 2010). In this case, teaching and learning
content, process and products, as three elements of curriculum which were identified by Tomlinson
(cited in Hall 2002, p. 2), can be differentiated. One example that can be seen as the teacher
differentiating content is that she uses different learning materials with different degrees of
complexity under the same focus of personal information. It is obvious that the lower level group
practice basic dialogue about the topic orally while the students with more ability engage in
worksheets with more information and improve their reading and writing comprehension and
expectations and products for each group of students are different as well. It seems that the teacher
takes learners' diversity into consideration and uses differentiation approaches in planning and

3
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

instruction for the lesson to promote inclusive teaching and learning environment and experience in
the classroom.

However, there still some approaches used by the teacher that can be improved in some ways. It is
demonstrated in the Australian Professional Standards for proficient teachers that teachers should
support learners' full participation and 'create an environment where student time is spent on
learning task' (AITSL 2014). Through the incident, it can be seen that sometimes students in higher
level group struggled and took time to go to the teacher ask questions. This implies that the task for
them may be over challenging beyond their level or they need more support and scaffolding during
the process of the learning task. George (2005, p. 188) claims that it is important to provide
appropriately challenging tasks for advanced learners to extend their knowledge, thought and skills
in effectively differentiated classroom. Therefore, varying materials, variable pacing and sufficient
scaffolding based on sound understanding of learners' varied readiness levels and learning needs are
critical for effective differentiation (Tomlinson et al. 2003, p. 132). Furthermore, rather than setting
students in fixed groups according to their abilities and year levels, constructivist opportunities for
students to collaborated with others of different levels and abilities may be encouraged. Experts
states that as one of elements of differentiation approach, flexible grouping can be used to offer
opportunities for elaborated helping in which process students of any ability or need engaged to
generate complex explanations, negotiate understanding with others and broaden views of issues
from other perspectives (Webb & Farivar, cited in George 2005, p. 188). It seems that in the
situation of the incident, differentiation may be more efficient if the teacher use flexible grouping
strategies, set appropriately challenging tasks for learners.

General Conclusions
There is a common consensus that differentiating instruction effectively may improves student
academic and social engagement because they receive instruction suited to their diversity which
enabled them to maximize the opportunity for achievement (George 2005, p. 188; Hall 2002, p. 6;
Mclaughlin & Talbert, cited in Tomlinson et al. 2003, p. 121). Noticing the trend in the field of
inclusive education of focusing on the practical application of inclusive approaches, strategies and
pedagogy (Katz 2013, p. 157), inquiry of effective instructional practice to facilitate inclusive
teaching and learning in classroom as well as engagement for all students emerges. Rock and his
colleagues (2008, p.32) states that effective differentiation can be implemented through continuing
adjustment of content, process and products to match students' diverse level of prior knowledge and
critical thinking. However, some scholars argue that deficit appears in differentiation as it is time

4
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

consuming for teachers, this may create different workloads among students and students may be ill
prepared for evaluation and assessment (Wormeli 2005, p.30). To address these concerns, it should
be noticed that firstly, differentiation shows teachers' responsiveness to individual students
differences to some degrees (Rock et al. 2008, p. 33). Similarly, it reflects in the code of ethics that
teachers should be responsible and respectful for learners uniqueness and diversity (Groundwater-
Smith et al. 2011, p. 31). Secondly, experts suggest that inclusive strategies should embrace all the
main methods of differentiation, not only of content, resource and task but also of outcome,
response and support (Kerry & Kerry 1997, p. 456). This means that students may take the task and
receive support suited to their preferences, abilities and levels which may lead to positive learning
outcomes and better prepare them for self-evaluation or learning assessment. Therefore, it is
essential for teachers to differentiate instructions to allow students experience varied learning
options, work at different paces and to be evaluated with variety of instruments appropriate to their
needs in the classroom(George 2005, p. 190) in which way an inclusive learning environment may
be promoted to a large extent.

Specific Conclusions
Expert states that best teachers are the ones who 'always recognized that every student is unique and,
to a degree, deserves and requires special attention and adaptation of the learning experience to fit
those unique needs, interests, abilities and attitudes' (George 2005, p. 189). Considering the
particular group of students in the context of this incident, some strategies in relation to
differentiation can be implement throughout the planning, teaching and learning process to facilitate
inclusive education. The foundation of implementing differentiation is knowing students well in
terms of recognizing students' varying readiness and background knowledge etc. (hall 2002, p. 1).
The importance of knowing students and how they learn is also emphasized in Australian
Professional Standards for Teachers as teachers need to show professional knowledge of physical,
emotional and intellectual development and diversity in other aspects and how these may affect
learning as well as the implication for teaching (AITSL 2014). Moreover, especially in this incident,
because the students involved are from a wide range of year levels from reception to year six, it is
significant to have a profound understanding of Australian curriculum for Chinese language for
each year level. This means that differentiation of curriculum needs to be based on the different
description of curriculum content and achievement standard in three different year stages (ACARA
2010) so that it engages and ensures the full participation of students of differing abilities in the
same class. Furthermore, during the process of teaching and learning tasks, flexible grouping, active
interaction and reflection of learning process among students with any abilities should be promoted.

5
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

For instance, Tomlinson (cited in Hall 2002, p. 2) highlights that the teacher may conduct whole-
class discussion of main content and concepts of the lesson with adjustment by degree of
complexity for the diversity of learners in classroom. Then based on the content and activities,
small group, pair work and individual study may be used as grouping and regrouping tools to
facilitate dynamic process of learning and to encourage peer evaluation and self reflection. Finally,
a variety of ways to assess student progress need to be identified to allow students to use varied
means of expression, experience alternative procedures and to be evaluated and scored through
varying degrees of difficulty and types of assessment.

Personal Action Plan
To address the issue of include students' diversity and meet all learners' needs, differentiation is the
key approach to be implemented in teaching and learning process, through which students may feel
affirmed, challenged and successful (George 2005, p. 188). I believe that differentiation should be
corporate throughout the whole process of teaching planning, implementing and learning outcome
accessing to promote inclusive education. I agree with the teacher in the incident that differentiation
should be reflected on the lesson plan in terms of providing options of learning tasks and procedures
according to students' levels and abilities. Allied to this, I may make similar decision as the teacher
on put the emphasis of lower level group of students on basic oral practice while demand more
comprehensive and critical thinking skills for learners with more abilities based on the content
description of Australian curriculum. Similarly, plenty of learning materials and resources with a
variety of complexity and need to be created and prepared for diverse learners.

However, based on my understanding of inclusive education and differentiation, I might use some
different teaching and learning strategies to supporting learning process. Firstly, at the whole-class
introductory discussion of the topic may be conducted. During the discussion, plenty of open
questions may be asked in order to allow students to express different ideas based on their own
understanding which encourages students of different abilities to participate and share their ideas.
Following this, worksheets with similar information may be shared among students which may
include different options and stages of learning process. Additional information and resources may
also be provided to extend the scope of learning topic for the more able, provide increased task
demand and improve opportunity for further study and deep thinking (Kerry & Kerry 1997, p. 446).
The teacher may give explicit introduction of expectations for students from each year level and
students may be encouraged to go beyond after they achieve the initial goal. During this process,
students of more abilities may engage in elaborated helping of other students. Experts believe this

6
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

kind of elaborated helping generate effective learning because students may build their own
language skills and understanding of learning by arguing, explaining, solving problems and having
their own idea examined by others (Serafino & Cicchelli, cited in George 2005, p. 189). Importantly,
there may be opportunity for students to discuss in small groups and share reflection on their
learning process because it is essential in second language learning that students improve their
metacognition as well as acquire metacognitive learning strategies through discussing, analysing
and reflecting on learning processes and learning to learn (Wang et al. 2009, p. 48; Shen 2005, p. 62;
Jiang & Cohen 2012, p. 31), which should be encouraged throughout the learning experience
disregarded of year levels. Consequently, students may improve critical thinking skills, foster deep
understanding of language learning and develop as expert learners which is an domain in Teaching
for Effective Learning framework (DECD 2014). Moreover, students may be assessed progressively
during the whole learning process through observation and the learning products (oral puppet play
for lower level students and written personal profile for higher level students) and outcomes may be
evaluated by themselves, peers and the teacher collaboratively. In this way, the equality of
opportunity for all learners may be ensured by providing varied learning options, paces, assessment
and inclusive learning environment may be promoted.

7
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

References
Australian Curriculum, Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) 2010, Chinese-second
language learner pathway, Australian Curriculum, viewed 25 October 2016,
<http://www.australiancurriculum.edu.au/languages/chinese/curriculum/second-language-learner-
pathway/f-10?layout=2&y=F-2&y=3-4&y=5-6&s=C&s=U>

Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership (AITSL) 2014, Australian Professional
Standards for Teachers, Australian Institute for Teaching and School Leadership, viewed 26
October 2016, <http://www.aitsl.edu.au/australian-professional-standards-for-teachers/standards/list>

Department of Education and Child Development (DECD) 2014, Teaching for Effective Learning
framework guide, DECD, South Australia.

George, PS 2005, 'A rationale for differentiating instruction in the regular classroom', Theory Into
Practice, vol. 44, no. 3, pp. 185-193.

Groundwater-Smith, S, Ewing, R & Le Cornu, R 2011, Teaching: challenges and dilemmas, 4th
edition, Cengage, Melbourne.

Hall, T 2002, Differentiated instruction: effective classroom practices report, National Center on
Accessing the General Curriculum, CAST, U.S. Office of Special Education Programs.

Jiang, X & Cohen, AD 2012, 'A critical review of research on strategies in learning Chinese as both
a second and foreign language', Studies in Second Language Learning and Teaching, vol. 2, no. 1,
pp. 9-43.

Katz, J 2013, 'The three block model of Universal Design for Learning (UDL): engaging students in
inclusive education', Canadian Journal of Education, vol. 36, no. 1, pp. 153-194.

Kerry, T & Kerry, CA 1997, 'Differentiation: teachers' views of the usefulness of recommended
strategies in helping the more able pupils in primary and secondary classrooms', Educational
Studies, vol. 23, no. 3, pp. 439-457.

Rock, AL, Gregg, M, Ellis, E & Gable, RA 2008, 'Reach: a framework for differentiating classroom
instruction', Preventing School Failure: Alternative Education for Children and Youth, vol. 52, no.
2, pp. 31-47.

Shen, HH 2005, 'An investigation of Chinese-character learning strategies among non-native
speakers of Chinese', System, vol. 33, pp. 49-68.

Tomlinson, CA, Brighton, C, Herberg, H, Callahan, CM, Moon, TR, Brimijoin, K, Conover, LA &
Reynolds, T 2003, 'Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning

8
EDUC 5174 Inclusive Education M Assessment 2 Research Project Man Jin 110158709

profile in academically diverse classrooms: a review of literature', Journal for the Education of the
Gifted, vol. 27, no. 2-3, pp. 119-145.

Wang, J, Spencer, K & Xing, M 2009, 'Metacognitive beliefs and strategies in learning Chinese as a
foreign language, System, vol. 37, pp. 46-56.

Wormeli, R 2005, 'Busting the myths about differentiated instruction', Principal Leadership, vol. 5,
no. 7, pp. 28-33.

9