Technology tools help teachers differentiate in many ways. Many tools help to differentiate the instructional aspect of learning to ensure students are learning the correct content at the appropriate level. Others differentiate the process for the way to keep your students engaged in their learning while the teaching is being done. The last part if the process of differentiation where the student is expected to explain or demonstrate their learning. The following are a few of the technology tools that are beneficial in the classroom for each of these three differentiated processes.
Nearpod (nearpod.com) brings the classroom to life with interactive mobile presentations that teachers create and customize themselves. Nearpod makes it easy to personalize teaching. With Nearpod it is easy to create differentiated lessons in homework mode to let the students explore lessons at their own pace and based on mastery or interest (Nearpod, 2015). Nearpod can be used in a variety of subjects and methods as it is a presentation program. This method is an effect way to differentiate by content as it allows for multiple students to receive the same instruction, but leveled to their interest and academic levels. Nearpod is a great tool for showing interactive field trips for science, social studies, and reading as it allows your students to view using a 360 degree picture.
PlayPosit (playposit.com) is an easy to use tool that allows teachers to add streaming video content to their presentations Teachers are able to crop, imbed, and add to any video. Students are prepared for digital learning and Common Core computer-based environments with it’s interactive learning environment. Students are able to rewind, rewatch, but never fast-forward. Their delivery process is engaging with maintaining accountability for students in a time-embedded formative assessment (Playposit, n.d.). The students receive differentiated instruction on their one-to-one experience with immediate feedback and allows them to move at their own pace, go back and rewatch a video for more exposure, and review concepts multiple times. Playposit can be used with a variety of subjects as any video can be formatted. These lessons can be used as a small group center for review, or to introduce an inquiry based lesson for higher-level thinkers.
EdPuzzle (edpuzzle.com) is the easiest way to engage students using video. Teachers can select a video, customize it by cropping, editing, recording audio, and adding questions for a lesson. EdPuzzle helps teachers save time and gives teachers an easy platform for the flipped classroom concept. The students can watch a video, answer questions, and the teachers can see how far the students watched, how many times they watched the video, and their answers to all the questions (Stern, 2015). The differentiation comes in when the students have the ability to watch videos over again to become masters at the content. EdPuzzle can be used with a multitude of lessons and subjects for centers, homework, or introducing a concept. The differentiation aspect allows students to become masters at their subject and take hold of their learning.
Front Row (frontrowed.com) creates an adaptive math and ELA program that helps stuents practice at their own pace, and helps teachers target individual students and small groups for lessons. Front Row offers ELA support in the form of word study, informational and fiction short story lessons, and adaptive math practice. Front Row helps teachers differentiate effectively by giving the student an adaptive diagnostic assessment and using the results to level the student for ELA and Math related skills (Davis, 2015). As the students continue the lessons adapt to provide problems to practice and guide learning. Front Row is an ELA or Math program that could be used with every standard in multiple areas of study. It’s standard based math problems allow a teacher to assign a standard as a lesson to be completed, while its ELA skill based allows teachers to choose articles on specific skills that are assigned at the student’s academic level.
ReadWorks (digital.readworks.org) is a tool designed to improve student achievement in reading comprehension by providing teachers with a Common Core, researched based, digital library. This library has articles, lesson plans, and article studies that allow the students to dive deeper into comprehending a text and reiterating teacher effectiveness by using skills and strategies previously learned. Readworks offers a digital platform that differentiates reading articles to student’s academic level or interest. These digital platforms assess based on real-time and provide anecdotal evidence of a students’ needs and/or abilities to identify their strengths and weaknesses (“Six rules of differentiating,” 2015). Readworks can be used as student independent practice, small group instruction, or centers. All of the articles are offered at different academic levels based on Aimsweb scores and reading levels. Readworks could be great to use in a main idea, compare and contrast, or cause and effect unit of study. These articles can show informational text and literature.
Google Classroom (classroom.google.com), along with the Google Drive Folders (drive.google.com) and Documents are a must technology tool in many classrooms for differentiation based on the design and process. Google Drive is a personal cloud storage service that allows users to store digital content via multiple devices. The features allow students to create documents, spreadsheets, forms, and drawings online and collaboratively based on their interest or level. The Google Classroom is a learning platform that allows for creating, distributing, and grading assignments paperlessly. It also allows its users to collaboratively discuss using the comment feature. The student choice instilled in the Google Classroom is a great way to differentiate and allow students to take more flexible learning path using interests and learning styles while also choosing which students get which assignments (Bell, 2017). The Google Classroom and Drive can be used in many ways and subjects. When asking to retell a reading story, researching a biography, or posing a problem solving problem in math. The Classroom offers ways for each student to take ahold of their learning their way.
Raz-Kids (raz-kids.com) delivers hundreds of interactive, leveled eBooks that provide comprehension recourses for students. Raz-Kids is a program for students to differentiate their instruction thorough choice, interest, and reading level. One of the ways it differentiates is It lets them to listen to the book, read the book on their own, and take a comprehension quiz on the book (Decarbo, 2013). Raz-Kids is a great daily five center activity for modeling proper fluency, it can also be used to introduce a biography of the life of a famous person.
Moby Max (mobymax.com) is an online resource that offers reading, language arts, and math curriculum for K-8th grade. Teachers can implement Common Core curriculum with an individualized, adaptive learning platform. Moby Max is ahead of the gap in offering personalized differentiated instruction. Scientific data is leveraged to create an adaptive learning tool set to help students and teachers identify missing skills and use progress monitoring to automatically assign effective lessons (Walsh, 2009). With its many programs, Moby Max can be used during reading centers as supplemental instruction or review, grammar introductions and reviews, and to have students practice and master math facts, problems, and questions.
Vocaroo (vocaroo.com) is an online voice recorder to send messages over the web. This tool can be used in the classroom as a way to communicate via teacher to student, student to teacher, or student to world. The differentiation of this tool comes in with the differentiation of every student. This tool helps communicate with ELL, learners with low reading levels, and students with IEPs in an effective manner. Vocaroo’s classroom abilities include formative feedback, peer feedback, and reading aloud to catch mistakes (Robinson, 2015). Vocaroo can be used during the writing/language arts block to use as a way to check for understanding and fluency in writing, a teacher tool for reiterating the lesson and sending the recording to students, or for students communicating on a global aspect when they record their speech for others to hear.
Edynco (edynco.com) is an online tool that can be used to create visual learning maps. Edynco allows educators and students to create multimedia presentations to presents instruction, learning, and explain process. Students can use this mind mapping tool to think through their understanding of content and ideas (McCarthy,n.d.). Students can map out their ideas for their presentation, paper, story, or assessment to create a clarity of organization. This differentiated tool can be used in a variety of settings and subjects as it is adaptable for every classroom. Students are able to create visuals of their science experiment, map out the building for their STEM project, or create a graphic organizer for their reading skill.
Padlet (padlet.com) is a virtual wall that allows for students to state their thoughts on a common topic. It is basically a very large cork board where students can post comments, photos, links, and documents. Padlet can be used as an entrance ticket to a lesson as a way to check for understanding or an exit ticket as an assessment piece for students to show what they know. Padlet is ideally suited for and supports differentiated instruction in the classroom as it can be used collaboratively or for individual work and across content and grade levels (Maureen, 2014). It provides multiple way for students to access and present learning. Padlet can be used globally as a way to discuss the elements of a story with other classroom, as an assessment to a history unit, or as a way to express how a light switch works in science.
My Story book creator (mystoryapp.org) is the simplest story telling and book making app for kids in the classroom. Students are able to use tools to write and illustrate their story. The differentiation this app allows is for student choice and interest. The students are able to pick and choose what they would like their story to be about and how to illustrate it. The can also choose to make a video or incorporate photos. Grouping students by ability, need or interest is a vital component in differentiated instruction when implementing reading (Gormely, 2014). My Story book creator can be used as a whole group lesson for explain a reading skill or strategy, group or center activities during reading, or as a way to create a book based on historical events.
Kahoot (getkahoot.com) is a collection of questions on a specific topic that are created by teachers to assess in a game-like learning environment. Kahoot allows students to work individually or in groups to answer a variety of questions based on tests teachers create. Kahoot can be used an an assessment that allows for a teacher to get for reteach moments. While many technology tools exist for differentiating instruction, Kahoot encourages creativity, individuality, and content depth determined by the student (Czarnecki, 2014). Kahoot can be used to pre-assess on similes and metaphors, review content learned from a lesson on the Civil War, and in small group centers that are differentiated by level.
Edublog (edublogs.org) is a blog created for the classroom as it supports student and teacher learning by facilitating reflection, questioning by self and peers, collaboration, and higher-order thinking. According to “Ten Ways to Use Your EduBlog” (2017), teachers are able to share materials, facilitate online discussions, create newsletters, start their students blogging, integrate videos, share lesson plans, and even gather feedback. Instruction is differentiated by product by allowing the students choice in their decision of what to write or how to write, interest in what to write about, and academic by teacher facilitation of how much to write. Students are also being exposed to global collaboration with other students as they can discuss and share their edublog. EduBlogs can be used in reading when students write to the text and about their story, social studies when they write about how the water cycle works, or in language arts when they create their own test based on what they learned that week. The different options of how to use an Edublog are endless.
Aurasma (aurasma.com) is a reality site that allows the vistor to see and interact with the world in a different way. Every object, image, or place can have it’s own video, 3D image, or link to a new web page. With Aurasma students can explain their thinking or expound their learning to see how their learning connects to different objects or things. This differentiated product form gives students a new way where they can choose how to show their learning. Students are able to record or take a picture of anything using a mobile device to make their section come to life to increase their engagement and interest in their assessment and take hold of their own learning (MarcBrea, 2014). Aurasma can be used in a variety of different subjects or units to have students create interactive journal or newspaper articles on a topic or to create interactive word walls of grammar related topics.
Overall, there are a multitude of different ways students can use technology to differentiate from instructional, process, and product point of views. Many of these technology tools can also be used for more than one differentiated process like product and instructional. Technology tools help students become apart of their learning and develop more of a background to engage them throughout their learning.
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