We can do this the easy way or the hard way, or even the medium way. Yes, videogames have different difficulty settings to allow players to advance at their own pace. Not ready for the final boss battle in Final Fantasy VII? Struggling to score an own goal on FIFA? Rather chill out in the Commander’s cabin in Mass Effect? No problem; we can wait. Your challenge: your responsibility.
Teachers always try to reach their students, regardless of the difficulty setting they are playing on. A great teacher is able to satisfy the demands of the high-achievers, while simultaneously raising the levels of the lower-ability students. One way to do that may be through offering students different difficulty settings: easy, medium and hard. Not only would that offer students a tangible challenge, but also increase their motivation level and confidence, especially if their goal is to beat the ‘hard’ setting.
It’s ‘easy’ to write 100 words, but how about 300 words? Motivate students by offering them different length options. It will increase the level of learner autonomy in the class and increase the sense of achievement upon completion.
“9 people? That looks challenging, but rewarding. 3 people looks too easy. How about ‘medium’? 6 people sounds like a good number. No, let’s go for 9.”
A simple ‘match the word’ exercise on the topic of jobs. Easy, right?
Now it gets a little more tricky; the student has to complete an additional ‘fill in the blanks’ exercise.
A more difficult prospect: language production is required. The ‘hard’ difficulty setting is not harder in terms of the skill level needed, but in the amount of effort required. In short: it’s more work. The key is to show students that they can all pass the ‘hard’ level with the right attitude. After freely selecting the ‘hard setting’ and feeling a sense of great accomplishment upon completion, students will exclaim, ‘that wasn’t so hard!’ and feel more confident in their abilities. Just ask anyone who beat Mike Tyson in Mike Tyson’s Punch-Out!