You are on page 1of 3

Differentiation and Content Descriptors

Years 3&4 Relevant STEM Content Descriptors


The following content descriptors are taken directly from the Australian Curriculum,
Assessment and Reporting Authority (ACARA) (2017);

Year 3
Science involves making predictions and describing patterns and
relationships (ACSHE050)
Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings using formal and
informal representations (ACSIS060)
Plan, create and communicate ideas and information independently and with others,
applying agreed ethical and social protocols (ACTDIP013)

Year 4
Earths surface changes over time as a result of natural processes and human
activity (ACSSU075)
Science knowledge helps people to understand the effect of their actions
(ACSHE062)
With guidance, plan and conduct scientific investigations to find answers to
questions, considering the safe use of appropriate materials and
equipment (ACSIS065)
Represent and communicate observations, ideas and findings using formal and
informal representations (ACSIS071)
Plan, create and communicate ideas and information independently and with others,
applying agreed ethical and social protocols (ACTDIP013)

Years 5&6 Relevant STEM Content Descriptors


Year 5
With guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific
investigations (ACSIS231)
Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in
a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS093)
Plan, create and communicate ideas and information, including collaboratively
online, applying agreed ethical, social and technical protocols (ACTDIP022)

Year 6
Sudden geological changes and extreme weather events can affect Earths
surface (ACSSU096)
Scientific knowledge is used to solve problems and inform personal and community
decisions (ACSHE100)
With guidance, pose clarifying questions and make predictions about scientific
investigations (ACSIS232)
Communicate ideas, explanations and processes using scientific representations in
a variety of ways, including multi-modal texts (ACSIS110)
Plan, create and communicate ideas and information, including collaboratively
online, applying agreed ethical, social and technical protocols (ACTDIP022)

Differentiation
As each years division has many content descriptors from the Australian Curriculum
which are applicable to the task students will be completing, you must carefully
consider exactly what you are expecting students in each years division to do. The
task for the lower years division needs to be considerably easier than the task for the
higher years. In trying to keep the actual task itself as similar as possible, there are
three differences to the task being completed by the years 3&4 and division and the
task completed by the years 5&6 division. The differences are highlighted in the table
below.
Difference between tasks for years divisions

Years 3&4 Years 5&6


Length of 3 minutes 4 minutes
News Report
Cyclone Teams in this division will be Teams in this division will be
Specific given a sheet with cyclone given a sheet with limited
Vocabulary specific vocabulary on the day cyclone specific vocabulary and
to scaffold their news report. they will be expected to add to
the list they receive.
Teacher : The teams supervising teacher In this age group teachers are
Student will do all of the filming in this allowed to film some segments
Filming age group. but it is encouraged that the
Ratio students do the bulk of the
filming.

The whole point of differentiating the task is to ensure that students competing in
both divisions will be capable of completing a challenging task within the designated
hour that they are offered. The task for students in the Years 3&4 division is kept
relatively basic and is heavily scaffolded with the cyclone specific vocabulary sheet
telling them most of what they will talk about. Supervising teachers are also given the
ability to have a much greater involvement in the task at this year level as well.
Bearing in mind that the whole point of the event is to boost interest in STEM
education, it is important not to make the task too challenging for the younger years
division as they are more likely to be students who are there for fun rather than to
challenge themselves in STEM education.
It is the older years division which is more likely to have students who are looking to
challenge themselves and it is crucial to deliver a task which is both challenging and
achievable. The aim with the older years is for them to apply their higher-order
thinking skills and develop their understandings through the investigation. This is
confirmed by Brookhart (2017) who states Retention requires that students
remember what they have learned, whereas transfer requires students not only to
remember but also to make sense of and be able to use what they have learned.
The change to the task that most reflects this Brookharts point is the one regarding
the vocabulary sheet. The task for the younger years group is to essentially
regurgitate the knowledge they are given whereas the students in the older years
division need to maintain a mentality for expanding their knowledge. In only being
given some of the vocabulary they are expected to use the older students need to
reflect and build on previous information they have been given. The older years task
is designed so that students need to consider the scenario of a cyclone and make
predictions based on what they already know.
The other two changes also have an impact on the difficulty of the task. In having to
deliver a news report which goes for a minute longer, students in the Years 5&6
Division will be expected to expand on and explain the vocabulary they are using in
the process of defining the severity of a cyclone. The supervising teacher is also
much more restricted in terms of their input in the older years division. Having
students in charge of the majority of the filming works to add more responsibility for
the students and will help them to practice their people and time management.