The “D” word, differentiation. While few teachers would disagree that it is important to meet the needs of all of the students in their classrooms, the mention of differentiation is likely to elicit groans from many audiences of teachers gathered for professional development. Why?
Teachers work incredibly hard each day, striving to meet the needs the diverse learners with whom they work. The mention of differentiation simply sounds insulting or like more work to many teachers. Some might even say, “It’s hard enough to plan one lesson each day. Now, you want me to plan three?”
Well, the good news is that as technology continues to advance, it is providing teachers with less-time intensive means to manage the workload of providing different learning experiences for different learners and a whole variety of new methods for learners to demonstrate their learning.
This post, supporting an in-person differentiation professional development experience, will focus on three ways that technology can support teachers in providing their students with differentiated learning experiences:
- Technology for Assigning and Tracking Multiple Assessments
- Using Technology-Based Anchor Assignments
- Technology Tools for Differentiated Learning Products
- TPACK Differentiated Lesson Planning Template
Technology for Assigning and Tracking Multiple Assessments
Student Groups in Infinite Campus
You will receive an email with a link to this resource.
Many schools use Infinite Campus as their primary SIS (Student Information System) for tracking and sharing student data. Infinite Campus includes many features for providing teachers with data about student individual needs (IEPs, ILAPs, 504s, etc.) and performance (attendance, grades, etc.)
Perhaps the best feature of Infinite Campus for Differentiated Assessment is the ability to take advantage of creating student groups within your classes to easily manage recording different assessments for different students. Westbrook Middle School teachers will receive a link to a video demonstrating how to set up and use Infinite Campus Student Groups. (Due to FERPA restrictions, I cannot offer this video to the public at-large).
Google Classroom - Differentiation Built-In
Google Classroom is widely-used in our district and beyond as a tool for classroom communication and the distribution and collection of assignments. Google Classroom has two primary features focused on differentiation included in its features:
- The ability to assign assignments to specific students as opposed to requiring that an assignment be assigned to the entire class (Content)
- The ability to accept a wide-variety of file types including documents, presentations, images, video and audio files (Product).
Using Technology-Based Anchor Assignments
In terms of differentiation, anchor assignments are essentially assignments that students can work on independently while the teacher works with other individuals or groups of students. There are a wide variety of anchor assessments available that allow students to work at their own pace at a skill level appropriate for them.
Two resources that I would strongly recommend as anchor activities include:
Technology Tools for Differentiated Learning Products
While traditional methods of demonstrating knowledge are generally limited to quizzes, tests, essays and presentations, several new options for sharing knowledge available to today’s students.
Below is a list of several different tools that students might use to share their learning with their teachers and their peers.
- Flipgrid – Short Video (Free)
- Loom – Screen Recording
- iMovie – Video Editing, Green Screen
- QuickTime – Video Recording
- Synth – Podcasts in Bytes
More to Come….