This week’s module focused on ISTE NETS Standard 2: Teachers design, develop, and evaluate authentic learning experiences and assessment incorporating contemporary tools and resources to maximize content learning in context and to develop the knowledge, skills, and attitudes identified in the NETS•S. My question that connects with a problem related to Standard 2 is: How can I use technology as a tool to provide differentiation for my students? My initial search for a resource that would help me answer my question led me to an excerpt from the book, Differentiating Instruction with Technology in K-5 Classrooms (Smith & Throne, 2007). The excerpt describes the need for differentiated instruction to meet the needs of all students and to help students achieve academically. This resource addresses the standard and my question because differentiated instruction requires the teacher to personalize learning activities that address students’ diverse learning styles. Smith & Throne (2007) provide a list of digital tools teachers can use to enhance Marzano, Pickering, and Pollock’s (2001) effective instructional strategies. These strategies support differentiation in the classroom and are most likely to improve academic achievement:
- Recognizing similarities and differences- Inspiration and Kidspiration Software, Word Software
- Summarizing information and taking notes- Notestar, Read-Write-Think Notetaker, Cornell Note-taking Forms
- Reinforcing effort and providing recognition- Kids Are Authors (Scholastic), Microsoft Publisher Certifacates, Word feedback notes
- Homework and practice- Word processing planners and organizers
- Nonlinguistic representations- Digital cameras, Graph Club software, Excel, Paint Software, Kid Pix, Kidspiration, Micro Worlds, TimeLiner
- Cooperative and collaborative learning groups by ability and interest- ThinkQuests, WebQuests
- Setting objectives and providing feedback-Word journaling, Word learning logs, rubistar
- Generating and testing hypotheses-Graph Club, Kids’ mysteries, Kidspiration and Inspiration hypothesis Webs, PowerPoint, Science Court, Word or Publisher reports
- Questions, cues, and advance organizers-Cubing and ThinkDots templates, Word KWL charts, Inspiration and Kidspiration advanced organizers, word agenda and advance organizers (p. 14-15)
Although various digital tools are listed that support the application of these strategies in a differentiated classroom, I want to focus on tools that will enhance student learning beyond just reporting information in a digital format. Porter (2010) states, “Educators need to help students rehearse thinking, creativity, and communication skills that go beyond repackaging existing information” (p. 15). Instead of simply using technology to make a project more appealing, the technology should enhance students’ understanding of the content. Porter (2010) suggests asking questions about rigor: “Does the content have substance worth sharing? Are your students’ digital projects demonstrating what they know and deeply understand about the topic beyond existing facts?” (p. 15). A digital tool that supports effective instructional strategies and that may enhance students’ understanding is the software Kidspiration. Kidspiration allows students to use higher-order thinking skills. It allows students to create graphic organizers to identify similarities and differences, use non-linguistic representations with pictures, illustrations, and pictographs, and generate and test hypothesis with hypothesis webs (Smith & Throne, 2007). Another resource available that may serve as a student assessment artifact in the classroom is the use of Prezi for presentations. Instead of using PowerPoint to present facts, students can demonstrate conceptual understanding. According to Orlando (2011), “The theory behind Prezi is that ideas are not linear, but rather bundles of interconnected concepts that are better captured as a whole with many parts. Prezi allows the user to illustrate the relationship of concepts to another” (p.7).
My class peer, Andrea Nichols, shared the resource, Differentiated Instruction Using Technology: A Guide for Middle and High School Students. Benjamin (2005) explains the three different variables of differentiation in the learning cycle. Benjamin (2005) states:
Differentiating for content means that everyone is learning the same concept but using different exemplars to get there. Differentiating for process means that everyone is learning the same content, but using different modalities to make the information stick. And differentiating for product means that students have different ways of showing what they know” (p. 8).
Technology can serve as tool for providing differentiation for students throughout the learning cycle. Digital tools can help students organize and keep track of observations. Some include outlines, graphic organizers, tables, and spreadsheets. Technology can also be used to meet the needs of multiple learning styles including visual, auditory, and social learning. Students can use computers to form learning communities that may help them share information, solve problems, and provide feedback. Finally, technology also allows for project-based learning as an authentic tool for assessment. (Benjamin, 2005).
Benjamin, A. (2005). Differentiated Instruction Using Technology: A Guide for Middle and High School Students. Routledge. Retrieved from http://books.google.com/books?hl=en&lr=&id=pNLH8anjrDkC&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=using+technology+for+differentiated+instruction&ots=DmVLts7Dy4&sig=da9uQWP0sgOKyqLJ-2PKb19vgCg#v=onepage&q=using%20technology%20for%20differentiated%20instruction&f=false
Marzano, R. J., Pickering, D., & Pollock, J. E. (2001). Classroom instruction that works: Research-based strategies for increasing student achievement. Alexandria, Va: Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development.
Orlando, J. (2011). Teaching with Technology: Tools and Strategies to Improve Student Learning. Faculty Focus, , 7. Retrieved , from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-920390-dt-content-rid-1636506_1/courses/EDTC6433_28657201342/Teaching%20with%20Technology%20Tools%20and%20Orlando.pdf
Porter, B. (2010). Where’s the Beef? Adding Rigor to Student Digital Projects. Learning & Leader with Technology, , 14-17. Retrieved , from https://bbweb-prod.spu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-920387-dt-content-rid-1636523_1/courses/EDTC6433_28657201342/WHERE’S%20THE%20BEEF%20-%20Adding%20Rigor%20to%20Student%20Digital%20Products%281%29.pdf
Smith, G., & Throne, S. (2007). Differentiating Instruction with Technology K-5 Classrooms. ISTE. Retrieved from http://www.iste.org/images/excerpts/diffk5-excerpt.pdf