Differentiated instruction (sometimes referred to as differentiated learning) involves providing students with different avenues to acquiring content; to processing, constructing, or making sense of ideas; and to developing teaching materials so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability (Tomlinson, Carol 2001).
Identifying differences in ability is a key step in gathering technology resources for students to utilize. We can easily identify students that have differences in ability via pupils that have an IEP. Often, we can access resources that we have used for these students and modify them to meet the needs of other students. This really is a good foundation to draw upon; however, we want to focus our attention on student strengths and constructing knowledge when it comes to differentiation, and multiple intelligences are another good place to start.
Howard Gardner is a leading researcher on the topic of multiple intelligences and is an excellent resource to draw from when focusing on differentiated instruction.
Gardner has extensive research and resources that can be found at the above link, and I highly recommend reading through his information on multimedia and technology and their relationship to multiple intelligences. Some other good Gardner resources can be found at the following links:
What are my learning strengths? (Inventory)
Products for Multiple Intelligences
Utilizing Gardeners inventory is a quick way to identify learner’s strengths, and the product lists provide teachers with ideas on what various students might create in a project based environment to show what they know. Most of these products can be produced via technology tools. This product list can provide a reference point to work from in order to create lessons that will build a foundation for varied learners to construct knowledge and reach their project goal.
As a former building intervention team chairperson I found myself faced with researching various strategies to provide accommodations for students that were struggling in various subject areas. I found technology to be one tool that met many students’ needs. The following web site and tutorial page is an older example of online activities that shared similar information in a variety of ways. The strengths and needs of particular students in my classroom guided my efforts to assist students in gaining the basic information in my geography classroom, and not all students completed all of the online activities. The activities helped me to differentiate instruction, practice, assessment, and re-teaching based on particular students’ abilities. After those basic skills were in place I could then draw upon Gardner’s multiple intelligences product ideas to expand student opportunities where they could construct knowledge via projects to show what they knew.
Hokanson’s World Geography
Hokanson’s World Geography Tutorials
Most of the activities in the above links were created, over time, by my students and I via an online “quiz maker” called Quia or a program called Hot Potatoes. I also utilized a program called Game Show Presenter to do whole class review over basic information that students needed in my geography classes. These activities served as scaffolding exercises to build knowledge toward student created projects.
Hot Potatoes (Installed on all NPPSD district computers since 2007!): http://hotpot.uvic.ca/
Game Show Presenter: http://www.almorale.com/
Now, with today’s World Wide Web there are many online resources that serve the purpose of many of the initial activities I created years ago (See links below). Teachers also have access to technology based resources via subject area textbooks especially online.
Example web site (blog) with links to resources for differentiation: http://oxpower.wordpress.com/
Textbook Resources: http://www.glencoe.com/sec/socialstudies/ushistory/taj2005/index.php4
Secondary Online Resources: http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/online_resources_hs/index.html
Elementary Online Resources: http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/online_resources/index.html
All of these resources are simply tools to assist students as they construct knowledge, but each tool and resource allows for deeper understanding of content and provides a foundation for students to build upon their strengths as they piece together information. Remember, technology is one vehicle toward learning, it is not the focus, and it cannot be an event. Technology is a tool that can be utilized to differentiate instruction and ultimately support individualized learning.
Other “quiz” makers to explore: