Productive Diversity Case Studies

Christian Riley discusses using the Learning by Design framework to teach financial literacy in his year 8 English classroom.


I am currently in my 9th year of teaching, my 3rd year using the Learning by Design framework and my 4th year working in the Lanyon Cluster of Schools. My year 8 English/SOSE classroom has a diverse range of abilities as it is not streamed. The Financial Literacy course was taught during the middle of term 4 and hence the classroom dynamic and expectations were well and truly established. My students are active and engaged listeners and are accustomed to explanations which detail requirements step by step and make links for them in terms of relevance and their future learning. The 3 focus students were excited to be chosen for closer study and the activities they completed demonstrate a personal best standard of work. They didn’t hesitate to ask clarifying questions where necessary. Following is pre-test data and qualitative assessment of a previous essay task.


Initial data was achieved by pre-testing students using the questions in the appendix. The student’s actual responses are also recorded there but the summaries are included before the course work summary and two final PEC reflections. Students were selected for the research because of motivation and because they achieved at 3 distinct levels. A brief reflection on their approach to another common assessment is contained in the following section.

Essay Assessment & General Approach to Learning

L1 is much slower to begin class tasks, on average he takes 5 minutes longer to get started than all other students in the class. He is frequently distracted, not by others, but by mechanical things like using scissors, whiteout, glue and taking his pen apart. He is also occasionally irritated by his peers. However, he is a confident reader. It seems as though actually putting pen to paper is the challenge. S1’s essay was submitted for final assessment in a draft form. He only made an attempt to structure one paragraph using the Point Evidence Comment (PEC) structure. There was no introduction and only one line for the conclusion. Despite using Microsoft Word to prepare his essay, there were spelling and grammar mistakes. His evidence was poorly formatted without page numbers for the quotations. The one paragraph he did finish was a completely original argument about one of the characters which showed a complex understanding of character motivation. I have identified S1 as my challenged student.

L2 does school well. She is socially confident, well organized and committed to her learning. She regularly asked questions to clarify the task requirements but is overly reliant on extra information to successfully complete tasks. She is good at recording the class discussion verbatim but rarely contributes original thoughts. She chose the ‘safe’ question for her essay topic and although her structure was sound, her discussion lacked personal analysis of character growth. She understands grammatical requirements like third person and uses formal language in written tasks except for the occasional colloquialism like ‘gotten’. She is identified as my middle level student.

L3 seeks challenge and regularly runs against the status quo in class discussion. He is socially connected to a select group of friends and finds the general run of social discussion in the classroom to be irritating. He regularly makes connections between the learning in the classroom and outside events and always asks clarifying questions that demonstrate that he has already moved to the next level of evaluation in a task. S3 chose to argue against the ‘difficult’ topic for his essay using a balanced approached which not only put original arguments but also countered others. He used some excellent technical language in his essay and advanced vocabulary. He deliberately chose to use some more advanced sentence structures. He is identified as my high level student.

Riley, Christian. 2010. “Meet the Teacher and Students in the Financial Literacy Project.” || Link