If differentiated instruction really works, why aren’t more teachers using it?
Let’s count the reasons…limited classroom time, a huge curriculum, increasing demands of classroom management… add to it the time teachers spend on lesson planning and designing instruction… there is no spare time.
Moreover, several teachers don’t feel prepared to address students’ diverse needs.
Schumm and Vaughn made these observations in 1991. Yet, they remain as relevant as they were back then. Add to it our need to prepare our students for state tests; can one really expect teachers to deliver differentiated instruction in their classroom?
Using technology to deliver differentiated instruction
Attending to diverse student learners is a challenging task. Even experienced educators can face difficulties. But, with proper use of technology teachers can achieve this goal.
Effective technology integration is the key. Delivering differentiated instruction, and creating a personalized learning experience requires patience, planning, resources and a well-planned investment of time.
How to use technology to deliver differentiated instruction
Focus over learning, and not on the technology
As we have discussed earlier in our discussions about the instruction positioning system, selection of tools should be a natural outcome to lesson planning. This process allows you to envision the use of more than one tool to achieve your learning goals.
Consider the following points
Once you have made these decisions. Only then, you should concentrate over the array of tools you want to use. This would allow to select multiple tools, if necessary, to achieve the learning objectives for the school year.
Focus over student needs
It is necessary to understand students’ interests and learning-profiles. Knowing student needs is would help you design (and conduct) an effective differentiated learning program.
This can easily be done with the aid of diagnostic tests. Digital tools allow you to administer diagnostic tests. Diagnostic assessments allow you to analyze their learning preferences and study habits. Moreover, you would be able to figure out their technology readiness, learning styles, and how you could help them to achieve mastery.
Personalize your content
You have two ways to go about it. Either, collect subject-content from various sources, and build it up; else create your own content, and augment it. The point is- it should fit the individual needs of your students.
Finding content is no big deal, what’s important is- how you augment the content. The best way ahead is to create your own content. It’s personal, and students readily identify with your style. Recorded lectures and interactive presentations are most effective in this regard.
Moreover, once you have mapped your students’ needs, you can easily standardize your procedure for creating instructional resources. This would help you save precious planning hours.
Digitize the learning groups
Learning groups are effective. However, managing them can be a strenuous task. Technology helps add new dimensions to your learning groups. With the information collected via diagnostic tests, you can create effective groups, and you can make them flexible.
Moreover, digitizing learning groups reduces planning, assessment, and remediation time too. Plus, with the information generated via digital assessments, you can enhance the flexibility of your learning groups.
Digitize student activities
Technology provides us with this awesome opportunity to integrate instruction and student activities. Here are some benefits that digital classrooms offer
Students spend lessor time on note-taking, and more time on learning-activities,
Teachers can give various students with individualized notes for a lesson,
A digital device allows students to take notes as they find comfortable. Students can type their notes, create mind maps, record an audio file, or take snaps,
You can assign personalized practice to each of your students based on their prominent learning-styles.
Develop an online classroom
100 percent classroom engagement is a near-impossible feat. Every time your lecture fails to cater to a particular learning style, you have a student who fails to learn. Technology provides you with a better option.
This is what you can do
Record your lectures. Upload them to a shared dropbox,
Create a bank of learning activities and upload it online,
Create new, interactive learning activities,
Develop an interactive classroom website,
If you have trouble developing a customized online classroom, you can choose to integrate your classroom with a secure online learning program. This would be of immense help to those students who cannot concentrate in a classroom setting.
Transform the learning-space
Experiment with your classroom. Encourage your students to design their own learning experience.
Experiment with collaborative learning, or try implementing project-based learning. If one group is predominantly kinesthetic – let them work on digital manipulatives. Otherwise, if a group is made up of visual learners– encourage them to express their learning with visual aids, like a video presentation.
Differentiated instruction is not an easy job. Even if you have a one-to-one classroom, it’s tough to create and manage a fully-differentiated classroom.
However, use of technology does increases the likelihood of creating a classroom that meets the need of all your students. All that’s needed is proper investment of time and effort.