3 ways to create a differentiated learning environment
Education should anticipate diversity and seek to provide the best experience for as many students as possible. At EF Academy everything from accommodation, facilities, activities, to classrooms, teaching, and study programs are designed with the individual student in mind. Here are three ways we tailor our learning environment to each child’s unique strengths, passions, and aspirations.
Across our three campuses in Oxford, Torbay, and New York, our teachers are committed to creating a classroom that facilitates discussion and engagement. The traditional lecture is replaced by two-way communication, with both student and teacher contributing to the learning experience. Jenna Marcus, a teacher from our New York campus, expands on this through her use of the Socratic Method:
“My class is very student-centered, and I usually use the Socratic Method or the Harkness Method, which is really based on the students’ discussions and inquiries. It’s a back and forth between them, and I facilitate. I also use group activity where students collaborate and support one another. I offer extra help too, where I’ll work with a student individually. I try to do so in class as well because it’s important for students to receive individual attention. I’m constantly checking their level of understanding; if they don’t understand, then the lesson completely changes so that I make sure that they get it”.
No two students are alike, and so at EF Academy, we’re proud to offer specialized study programs or ‘Pathways’. Students with clear interests, talents, or university aspirations, work alongside our guidance teams to customize their chosen academic program to best suit their needs. We have proven success in preparing students for the world of business, the professional fields of law, medicine, engineering, and careers in the visual or performing arts. Once specific courses of study are chosen, extra-curricular activities are highlighted to work alongside academia and allow further opportunity for students to explore their interests. The wide range of clubs already on offer across our campuses regularly expands as students are encouraged to set up their own groups. Aline Saruhashi, a student from Brazil, explains how she benefitted from this flexibility:
“I did an internship over the summer at a cosmetics company in Brazil. I fell in love with the entire process of creating a cosmetics product, and so I thought why not continue that in my school? So, this year I started The Soap Club. I tried to combine all of my interests together so cosmetics, chemistry and also art because all of the members of my club create their own designs. It was awesome going through the whole process from research to creation, and it was helpful because it gave me an idea of how it would be to pursue a career in cosmetics product development”.
A well-rounded education goes beyond the classroom and offers the opportunity for physical, visual, and social learning. Not only do our students get to live in a new country, soaking up a new culture and new traditions, but our specific locations in New York, Oxford and Torbay each offer unique landscapes for experiential learning. Recently our New York students spent the day in the city to launch a new advisory program: MAPS (Mindfulness, Awareness, Perception, and Skills). Madeline Ames from the New York team explains:
“Its main goal is to create meaningful connections through experiential learning. At each landmark, the students were able to see, touch, and experience the rich diversity and history that is New York City. Stationed at each location was a member of the Academic Leadership Team, there to help guide and teach students about the intricacies of these famous places”.
Recently in Torbay, students saw Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream in a network of pre-historic limestone caves. Andrew Thain from the Torbay team describes:
“The actors moved us along as they performed, so each scene took place in a new part of the cavern. The students, all of them English learners, watched excitedly. It was magical. What’s more, it demonstrated how our location here in Torquay provides us with some unique opportunities”.
In a recent article written by Proud Siwanarak, a student from our Oxford campus, a trip to the University of Oxford’s Botanical Garden is described as being ‘An outdoor classroom’.
“The botanic garden is a great place to learn about different plants. I would definitely recommend this beautiful and fascinating place to other biology students who want to see or learn more about the plants that they have been studying in their textbook – it really brings botany alive!”
Whether in the classroom or outside of it, EF Academy recognizes that education should be a varied, rich, life learning process. We’re dedicated to setting every student on the right pathway towards success.