Using technology to differentiate by content
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Classroom footage and interviews with educators illustrate a variety of ways to differentiate by content using technology.
This video is one in a five-part series about integrating technology into differentiated instruction. The other videos include:
- Using Technology to Differentiate by Process
- Using Technology to Differentiate by Product
- Using Technology to Differentiate by Learning Environment
- Using Virtual Worlds to Engage Gifted Learners
The videos are associated with the article “Inclusion in the 21st-Century Classroom: Differentiating with Technology.”
- Leila Moog (00:11)
- I think technology has changed teaching the most by offering the students a variety of different learning styles. Perhaps a student doesn’t learn best by reading. Perhaps the student learns best visually. We use them all. We supplement them. So we use a certain software program, that might speak to us visually or orally. Another one might, you know, let us communicate in a different way. And if we let the student use different ones, hopefully they’re going to get what we’re getting after, so they’re going to learn what we’re getting after.
- Christina Zack (00:51)
- It’s amazing to me the number of students that cannot see. A lot of teachers that use the blackboard, they erase, they don’t erase well, they’re using the same color, things are blurry, they’re not clear, it makes a difference. And it makes a difference with kids’ paying attention. I mean, if things are easy on the eyes and they’re colorful and visual, kids are going to want to look at that more so than all this mess on the board that they can’t make any sense of.
- Leila Moog (01:19)
- We did a little orientation for the learners’ second language students on using the library resources and what we could serve them. We have a database in North Carolina that we use called “Student Resources in Context,” and it’s a magazine index, a newspaper index, reference books. And they come up, and I showed them how to use it. We did individualize, so I had stations. Students went around to different stations. And this one little girl was learning how to use the student resource, and one of these features of this database is that you can click on a button and it will actually read, word for word, the article that you’re researching. Well, here’s a student who has trouble with English, and my goodness, she was — she couldn’t get away from it. And she went home — this is such reinforcement for her to hear this language — and she could look at it and have it read to her, and it was like, "a ha!" for her, it was a big deal for her to find that out.
- Becky Goddard (02:24)
- You have students who have reading disabilities, the laptop will, if they highlight, will read the questions aloud to them, so I don’t have to evaluate their math skills and their reading skills at the same time. I’m able to get a better assessment of the concepts that they’ve mastered without having to pull them aside to read to them, because that’s embarrassing, especially at this age, for me to pull a group aside and say, you know, "Let’s do the test aloud." They’re able to do it on their laptops.
- Dr. Alena Treat (02:53)
- There is such a range that this program tends to individualize, so each student, if you looked around, each student is at a different place. They can’t go on from one mission to another until they meet that standard, so they have to meet that standard in order to go on to the next level. Those who want to go on even further, they have all these different optional quests that they can do in order to work on their social commitments, which has to do with getting their shard flower, with luminating, and — you’d have to see that, it’s a little thing that hangs behind their head, their virtual avatar. And they take great pride in making it turn all different colors, which means that they have done a lot of work.
- Leila Moog (03:43)
- One of our math teachers, she uses what’s called a Mobi, it’s a portable device, like InterWrite kind of thing, a portable InterWrite pad, and she actually videotapes, tapes on this pad, some of her lessons. Not with a camera, but on the pad itself, it has a recording device. She actually tapes some of these lessons and makes a link on Blackboard to this video and her students can go home and review what they saw. And when you have complex math going on at a very rapid pace, it’s just invaluable to have that.
- Christina Zack (04:18)
- I think when you’re assessing the students, it’s always good to look at the results and maybe make sure that students are understanding before a big assessment comes up like a test, that’s worth, you know, big percentage points. I think with Blackboard having the online quizzes and letting the kids have multiple attempts, that’s really had a big impact on their learning because they’re able to do a lot of those questions that they get wrong over again. So they can see the ones that, you know, they’re getting wrong, and then they can have a second try. And hopefully they’ll learn from the mistakes, and then they would remember that and not make those mistakes on the actual test that they would have in class.
- Becky Goddard (05:04)
- IXL is one of the programs that we use online. Our district buys a subscription to it. I think it runs pre-K through eighth grade. It’s a program that the students have access to through a user name and password. I can assign them specific skills on it. It is very skill-specific. They answer questions, they can do word problems, they can do just straight computation, and as they answer the questions their score goes higher, and then they’ll earn a ribbon or an award that they put on a little board, they get to keep a board on IXL where they put awards that they’ve won. I then get a report of how every student does, I can click on a scale and see every student, it color codes them, it gives me a percent that they got correct.
- [To student] (05:49)
- You know how you were having trouble dividing? That’s exactly what we’re doing.
- [In interview] (05:53)
- It immediately orders the students that need mastery, so it immediately does that for me, it’s very quick, it’s easy for me. And the students, they like it because they get to do it on their own. It’s on the computer so of course it’s cool. I like it because every child gets a different problem, so they’re not looking off their neighbor and just putting answers in. Google docs, the IXL, those pieces truly show me regularly where our students fall between the cracks. Being able to take a quick check and see how something’s done. And a lot of things that you do on the computer, it will grade it quickly. It tells me immediately who I have to pull for remediation that day. It tells me immediately who needs to be pushed a little further. When those are printed out, the students get those results, and it’ll tell them where they sit overall, as well as by objective. They understand that if they’re sixty percent accurate on this objective, at some point, they’re going to be pulled for remediation on that objective.
- They’re good with that; they want to do better on it. Seeing their score on that Scantron sheet, that quarterly assessment that they do is a motivator for them. We’re very transparent with each student. I don’t hide their scores from them, I don’t hide their Scantron scores from them. But I also don’t hand them out and say, "Here, ooh, you did really bad, you’re on your own, you need to study those." You know, it’s just not a philosophy — But you encourage them, you say, "Let’s try to work here."
- Day-to-day basis, they quickly understand that I expect eighty percent accuracy on a skill. They will work on it until they get it, and when they reach eighty percent, they’ll sometimes say, "Can I go to ninety?" And so IXL is a great way for these students to get a day-to-day evaluation of their own progress. A lot of it is just training the students to be able to read their own data, to evaluate their own data, so they do a lot of self-assessment along with that.
- Jeremy Cox (07:51)
- One advantage of all the students having laptops is that you don’t have to worry about creating different pieces for every student to do, we don’t have five laptops, five computers in the classroom where only five at a time can work on the technology assignment and the rest of the class maybe has to wait their turn. With every student having the one-to-one — having a laptop in the one-to-one environment, it really gives you a chance to have every student engaged in the way you want them to with the technology.