What is the purpose of this wiki?

The purpose of this wiki is to show how technology can support differentiated instructional strategies in today’s diverse classrooms. I encourage all educators to contribute their knowledge, strategies, and resources to make this a useful guide for harnessing the power of web 2.0 tools to meet the needs of all learners.

What is differentiated instruction?

Differentiated instruction is the process by which teachers use a variety of teaching strategies to meet the needs of a diverse classroom. Students are provided with "different avenues to acquiring content, to processing or making sense of ideas, and to developing products so that each student can learn effectively." (Tomlinson, 2001).

What does differentiation look like?

  • A wide variety of assessments are used to determine students' learning styles, strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Assessments are on-going and guide instruction.
  • Teachers incorporate a variety of strategies to reach the diverse needs of their students, understanding that not all students learn in the same way or at the same rate as other students.
  • The teacher provides opportunities for whole class, small group, and individual instruction.
  • The classroom is student-centered rather than the teacher centered. Often the teacher learns alongside their students.
  • Content is relevant and meaningful for students, and allows students to apply their learning to real world problems.
  • The classroom climate is a culture of tolerance, safety, mutual respect, and the understanding that every student learns differently and at a different pace. Student voice is appreciated and encouraged.
  • Motivation, engagement, and student responsibility increases when students feel comfortable in taking chances and having a choice and voice in their own learning.

Differentiated instruction is NOT:

  • individualized instruction
  • it is not disorganized and chaotic
  • ability grouping and keeping those groups together the entire year.
  • a once-in-a-while activity; it is at the core of everyday teaching practices
  • giving more work to the more advanced learner and less work to the struggling learner
  • teacher centered
  • teaching to the middle

What role can technology play in differentiated instruction?

  • Technology is a tool that, when paired with effective instructional practices, enables students to develop critical thinking skills through collaboration, sharing, remixing, creating, and analyzing new content and applying that knowledge to real-world situations.
  • Technology engages and motivates students using tools most students are already comfortable using.
  • Many (free) web tools help teachers to organize their lessons and gather data for assessment purposes. These tools can also help students to organize their notes, provide a space for storing online portfolios, and even create their own study guides.
  • Technology can provide opportunities for remediation through the use of software tutorials.
  • Technology plays to the various learning styles of our students. For example, auditory/musical learners can benefit from books on tape (cd), listen to or create podcasts, and listen to or create music just to name a few ideas. Linguistic, interpersonal and intrapersonal learners can benefit from writing blogs, newsletters, and wikis for authentic audiences. For logical/mathematical learners, they can demonstrate the steps to solving a math equation using screencasting software (often free), then upload it to a wiki site for other students to use as a review. Visual/spatial learners can use photography, create videos, vodcasts, online posters, and create art from a number of interactive art sites. Kinesthetic learners can manipulate objects/text on interactive whiteboards, create 3-D models using free software ,iPad or even Legos, play educational video games, or even be the "behind the scenes" camera person or director in a video. Finally, the naturalist can learn about animals from the websites of the many large city zoos around the world, use telescopes, microscopes for a more hands-on learning (no, technology is not always about the computer!), or even cameras to photograph nature and upload to a website. The possibilities are endless!
  • Technology allows teachers and students to connect with each other and share knowledge, resources, and ideas through various social networking sites. Learning can occur anytime, anywhere, anyplace.