K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

LEARN NC was a program of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill School of Education from 1997 – 2013. It provided lesson plans, professional development, and innovative web resources to support teachers, build community, and improve K-12 education in North Carolina. Learn NC is no longer supported by the School of Education – this is a historical archive of their website.

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Daniel Lunk
Date created
February 2011
Flash Video
This video copyright ©2011. Terms of use

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In the classroom

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Classroom footage and interviews with educators illustrate a variety of ways to differentiate by product using technology.

This video is one in a five-part series about integrating technology into differentiated instruction. The other videos include:

The videos are associated with the article “Inclusion in the 21st-Century Classroom: Differentiating with Technology.”


Becky Goddard (00:08)
When you’re working with the population of students that we’re working with today, that — understanding that every child learns differently, and that from point A to point B isn’t the same distance for all students. Understanding that the product that one student will give you may not be absolutely one hundred percent correct, but examine it and look at it, and see what they’re doing, and take that as insight, and take that to develop further lessons. Students work in all different ways, they understand things, and sometimes I don’t understand how they understand things. But have them tell you. Students love to live chat and tell each other how they solved a problem, and they have their own "a-ha" moments, and they are their own people. Just because they don’t do it my way doesn’t make it the wrong way.
Dr. Alena Treat (01:05)
It isn’t the real thing, but it’s as close to the real thing as you can get, because they are actually going through all the motions, and they are performing the same kinds of tests that they would have performed if they were actually performing a scientific experiment. They’re not only performing the experiments and analyzing the water quality or whatever kinds of task that they’re working on, but they are finding out the implications of the advice that they then give to somebody in that virtual world, as if they were the character that’s actually doing something.
For instance, if they decide that they are going to put restrictions on the Mulu tribe because they’re putting nitrates and phosphates from fertilizer and cow manure into the water. If they make the recommendations to put the restriction on this tribe, then what happens is they can then see the effects two years in the future of what happened after they made those recommendations and they can actually experience, virtually, what happens. And they can talk about, is this happening elsewhere in the world where some tribes have restrictions such as this, and what happens to the tribes: Do they suffer? Do they have poverty? Do they have limited land because of all this, because of the incursion of the national park on their land? If they decide to fund tourism, what happens? Do they get to experience the littering, the pollution that happens, the cutting down of trees, the effects on the animals in that area? Is that kind of thing happening in society now? Yes, it is.
Leila Moog (02:49)
We’re working with a lot of Web 2.0 resources. I did a lot of staff development with the teachers and it sort of took off, teachers were kind of tired of seeing PowerPoints all the time. A lot of different disciplines were doing it. We had an English teacher doing Fahrenheit 451 and they incorporated different questions and the students were working on Glogsters, which are electronic posters. They had writing on the poster, they had visuals on the poster, they had links to other websites on the poster. And then what we did is we took all of these glogs that they made, and we would embed them on a wiki that we made for that class. And that way the teacher could go to that one wiki, the students could go to that one wiki, they could see all the other students’ work, they could comment — that’s the one thing about Web 2.0, it’s interactive, it’s collaborative, you can comment on other people’s things. So they could comment on other people’s work, and the teachers could grade it straight from that wiki.
Another Web 2.0 tool we use a lot is VoiceThread, and it’s sort of like a conversation around media. As long as you’re registered on VoiceThread can send your Voice Thread to Aunt Tilly and she can comment, you know, if she’s in New Jersey, she can comment on your VoiceThread. We have Academy of Information Technology and we have a sister school in China. And so what they did recently is the Chinese students were learning about comedians. American comedians. So our students did a VoiceThread in groups, groups of two, I believe, in a certain class, they did on comedians. So they would do a VoiceThread, they would talk, and they would talk about the comedian, and then they would be seeing pictures as you go across. And then, what we’re hoping for, is that the Chinese then, and this is an English class in China, the Chinese then will respond on the same VoiceThread, so that’s what we’re waiting for now, is for them to respond, and then we’ll see there, and hear them.
Becky Goddard (04:53)
Sometimes students can simply take an easy online assessment through Angel, a test, and we will do that from time to time, but students enjoy creating products, actual pieces of work that they can share. And the laptops, we’re very fortunate to have so many programs, from ComicLife, to Keynote to Pages to iMovies to podcasts, they can do anything. When we were first talking about what part of a fraction makes up, and you, you know, you used to get the fraction circles out, or the fraction bars out, and you would talk about “This is eighths and here I have three-eighths, and here I have one-fourth, and all together they make a whole.” They were able to go to a website and actually create, they created animals. And I assigned them a number, and I said, “Okay, you have to create an animal worth three, and you have to create one worth two and a half,” and you can see examples of those work.
But then they take screen shots of them, and they put them in ComicLife, and they can make little comics out of them, and they love stuff like that, and I can still evaluate, do they still understand the meaning of a whole, and the different fractional parts that can make up a whole, it’s just more fun for them. They can create a flier on Pages, they can create a brochure, they did brochures on the properties of mathematics, just different pieces like that that the computers allow us to do that maybe, you know, you used to do with markers or paper or pencil, but this is so much more interesting for them because this is a generation of video gamers, and iPods and cell phones and so when we come to school, if we don’t have an opportunity for them to stretch like that, then they’re not going to be interested. So the products that we ask for generally are driven by the student interests.
Jeremy Cox (06:44)
The assignment was one of two things: They could have either designed their own sand castle, and then calculated the volume of sand needed to actually build the castle, they would have done that in a program called SketchUp, which is basically, it’s sort of like a computer assisted or CAD design program, it’s very basic in terms of the tools they get to use, it just kind of introduces them to that type of program. Or, they could have written their own song and composed it and recorded it, describing how one of those formulas for area and volume of a solid works, and giving an example as well. They could have just changed the lyrics of a song that they know, or completely rewritten it, using something called Garage Band on our Macintoshs.
They should be able to really create something and incorporate the content, and that’s what I would love to see. And so I’m trying to do different types of things, not just iMovies, maybe. We have a program called ComicLife where they actually produce a comic book kind of thing. Can they create a story that incorporates the content in that way where maybe it doesn’t have to be a video, but its a comic, it’s some images that they put together in a story, or with the spreadsheet programs like Excel, or Numbers on our Macintosh. Can they create a best-fit line from some data and then really incorporate other things, other facets of a specific real-world application — not just the numbers themselves, but can they connect it, connect the content to something outside of just math? I’m kind of taking a shotgun approach, I feel like. I’m trying to do lots of different activities to see what they can really show me, can they give me that mastery level with some type of technology?
Leila Moog (08:29)
Working with technology makes us all a little more creative. It certainly makes the students more creative. They come up with some great stuff. We also have to also be more creative in sometimes in the way we assess them. You’ve got process versus product. So we’ve got to see, now, sometimes the process is what you’re working with, you know, how they do it, how they’re learning this, are they understanding what a wiki is and how to put something on there? And then, of course, you have to evaluate the product. So we have to think differently as well, we have to be a little more creative in how we assess things, and I think we’re working through that as we go.