Incorporating differentiated instruction into lesson planning enables teachers to effectively reach more students with the material they’re covering. Technology can be an important asset to help teachers implement differentiated instruction more quickly and effectively!
Using Technology to Better Understand Students
With differentiated instruction, teachers use varied ways to relay subject matter so that instruction is more effective for each student. One effective approach to differentiation is to use technology to conduct surveys that provide insight into student learning profiles. This strategy is particularly helpful when first implementing differentiation in the classroom, as it helps teachers better understand their students.
Using technology to conduct surveys provides statistical data and ensures that no student is overlooked while teachers are observing other classmates. Teachers can get a complete overview of their students and identify common interests and skill levels, as well as less common learning preferences and capability levels.
With this information teachers are able to:
* Understand the full range of their students’ existing skills and knowledge
* Confirm the specific learning styles present in their students
* Develop an instructional plan that engages all students
* Set individual goals for students struggling or excelling with specific material
Using Technology to Differentiate Material
Due to the fact that students can possess a wide range of existing knowledge and skills, teachers must consider several factors when preparing lessons and differentiating instructional materials. Technology is a critical asset when teachers are working to alter materials so that they meet the needs of all their students. Tools are available for teachers to:
* Change lesson content based on student reading levels
* Manipulate how material appears when presented
* Make lessons available online
* Add multimedia presentations to their lesson plans
* Vary assignments types so different processes are used
* Introduce students to new resource materials
Teachers utilizing these tools will be able to expand their lessons to suit the needs of every student more effectively. Technology also improves efficiency, saving teachers preparation time while providing access to a wide range of suitable materials that enhance the learning process.
How Differentiated Instruction Makes Knowledge Accessible to All
Educational resource sites can facilitate the process of implementing differentiated instruction in the classroom. For example, Study.com resources enable teachers to differentiate based on level by creating self-paced assignments for their students. Students can view video lessons and complete quizzes on their own time, which allows them to speed up or slow down as needed.
Students who miss key information or need a refresher can go back to lesson material and review the concepts again. After finishing a quiz, students can also view their results and go directly to the point in the video that explains the answer to questions they got wrong.
This approach ensures that every student has the opportunity to learn at a comfortable pace that fits their needs. Students who miss a class due to illness can catch up on material and students who need to spend more time reviewing information can do so without affecting students who are ahead. By using online tools, teachers enhance the learning experience for students and save time collecting their own leveled materials.
As a third-grade teacher in a 1:1 classroom, I believe in the power of differentiated spelling instruction and practice. My students enter my classroom each fall with widely varying levels of phonemic awareness and spelling prowess.
We wouldn’t expect each of our students to read the same books as their classmates all school year — their varying interests and ability level make it clear that they each need personalized reading material.
In the same way, I believe that teachers’ spelling instruction and students’ spelling practice should both be differentiated to meet each child’s individual needs and readiness levels.
Managing and documenting differentiated spelling for 25+ students can be time-consuming, though — if not downright impossible. For years, I could never find the perfect resource that was both fun for students and which also allowed them to progress through increasingly-difficult spelling words at their own pace.
Since a resource like that didn’t exist, my son and I made one: Rocket Spelling.
With 1,200 critical high-frequency words sorted by pattern, Rocket Spelling is designed to provide students with independent spelling practice that they can move through at their own pace, freeing the teacher up to provide small-group instruction to students as needed.
In Rocket Spelling, students’ spelling practice is gamified and self-paced.
We also provide teachers with real-time data at a glance. You can instantly see how all of your students are progressing through the various levels of Rocket Spelling (as pictured below).
We believe it’s time for the traditional one-size-fits-all Friday spelling test to be replaced with differentiated spelling practice that meets students’ individual needs while also being fun and exciting for elementary-age children. That’s become our mission, and so we hope you and your students will join us on Rocket Spelling for the 2018-2019 school year!