How can I tailor a task to a specific group of students?

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Episode 310: Physicsy brains Seattle Pacific University

One benefit of small group work is that instructors can tailor tasks to address the needs of specific students (sometimes called “differentiation”). Different students bring different knowledge and experiences to their tasks and have different ways of making sense of ideas. As instructors, how do we tailor a task to a specific group of students?

July 2, 2018

Pedagogy Content
Tailoring instruction
Physics Content
Newton's laws
Instructor Interaction
STEM-wide audiences

Lesson Contents (5 MB)Student Handout
Transcript, discussion questions, and problem

(2 MB)Specific Lesson Guide
Facilitator's guide for this lesson

(1 MB)General Facilitator's Guide
Background and best practices

(169 MB)Video
Captioned video


Sample Discussion Prompts

  1. What did you see happening in this episode? Tell a partner what you noticed.

  2. One of the keys to effectively tailoring tasks to specific students is to figure out where the students are coming from – what they already understand, and what questions they have. What does Lisa do to get this information?

  3. Lisa asks the students to “think about this with maybe less physicsy brains for a second.” What do you think she means by “physicsy”? Why does she want the students to be “less physicsy,” at least for a moment?

  4. What new task does Lisa offer the students? How is this task different from the one they were doing before?

  5. What are some ways to tailor a task to a specific group of students, as suggested by this episode?

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