Archive for the ‘Differentiated Instruction’ Category

A few years ago, while I served as an instructional technology director for a school district, I proposed the creation continuum after researching project based learning. The following link to my Prezi is an updated version of the presentation I shared on the subject…

http://prezi.com/embed/4dxykmcolwa9/

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Any subject area teacher can and should create curriculum tools that can help students that require accommodations in their learning.  This is key to differentiated learning and instruction.  When I think of my content area of social studies I know that it can require a lot of reading.  Vocabulary is an important piece of knowledge that can help students make their way through the content, and I try to create or find activities that support vocabulary acquisition.

In the past I have utilized sites like Quia to create activities that build and reinforce vocabulary knowledge.  Quia activities like flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, and hangman are a few that present vocabulary in a fun way.  You can also create cloze reading activities with Quia that enable a user to read passages of text and identify key terms that complete a paragraph.  Online textbook resources also often have ready made vocabulary activities that can make it much easier for students to navigate text or take an active part in classroom discussions and projects.  Online textbooks are also interactive and most have an audio or read-aloud feature built into the text.

The following are several examples of vocabulary and reading activities that I have created or found and linked to that assist all students and especially those that may struggle with reading (especially see the flashcards, matching, concentration, word search, hangman, jumbled words, pop ups, and cloze activities).

American History Vocabulary and Reading Activities

World Geography Activities

Hokanson’s American History Quia Class Page

Help your students gain a better understanding of the content by accessing the reading tools that are all around you or create some today.  Technology makes for better and more complete learning, and your students deserve to utilize these tools.

Gamification Infographic

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

Flipped Classroom

Created by Knewton and Column Five Media

 

It has been a few years since I heard Ian Jukes speak at the T+L Conference in Nashville (October 19, 2007).  However, his words continue to ring in my ears, and I want to share some of them with you as I reflect on where our school district is with embedding technology in learning.

Ian Jukes said:

“We have access to some new technologies but their use is generally optional not integral and certainly not required of all teachers – and the technologies are often used to reinforce old practices and assumptions about teaching and learning and assessment and do not require the teacher to change their current instructional practices.”

“Ask yourself this very important question – would your students be there in your classrooms if they didn’t have to be? Are they there because they want to be there? Or are they there because they have no other choice? And if they’re there only because they have to, what can we begin to do differently to help more students want to be in our classes?”

“…Our emphasis as professional educators has to be on more than just LOTS.”

“The starting point for making the necessary changes is that as educators we have to understand how truly different our students are.”

“This shift is so fundamental – the gap between them and us is so wide – that there’s no going back to the basics. There’s no going back to the way things were when we were kids.”

“The problem is that many educators just don’t get that there is a digital divide. Many of us pay lip service to the notion that this generation is different. We knowingly nod our heads but then we shut the door to the classroom and go back to business as usual where it could just as easily be 1960 all over again.”

“Most teachers know very little if anything about the digital world of their students – from online gaming to their means of exchanging, sharing, meeting, evaluating, coordinating, programming, searching, customizing, and socializing.”

“The bottom line is that we really don’t understand their digital world and we never will until we take the time to honor and respect where they come from. But to do this we have to be willing to acknowledge their world and start to educate ourselves about that world.”

“If we truly want to make a difference in the lives of our children, schools must become a place where students are actively engaged in constructing their own knowledge and know how…”

“The context of a significant event provides a frame of reference and relevance for remembering the specific information about what you were doing long after the event. By providing a context for the new information teachers are actually helping students with long-term memory.”

My summary and challenge to myself and others that continues today:  As educators it is time that we take responsibility for our own learning.  If we want to create self-directed learners, we must become one.  We must model self-directed, independent learning, and we need to discover how our students learn in the 21st Century.

The Creation – Consumption Continuum

http://prezi.com/4dxykmcolwa9/the-creation-continuum/

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.

http://www.howardgardner.com/MI/mi.html

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)
http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/MI/MI_Inventory.pdf

Products for Multiple Intelligences
http://mail.nppsd.org:8080/~nhokanson/MI/MI_Product_Grid.pdf

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
http://homepage.mac.com/nhokanson/Sites/socialstudies/geography/index.html

Hokanson’s World Geography Tutorials
http://homepage.mac.com/nhokanson/Sites/socialstudies/geography/tutorials.html

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.

Quia:  http://www.quia.com

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:

http://yacapaca.com/

http://testmoz.com/

http://www.contentgenerator.net/

http://www.curriculumbits.com/prodimages/details/misc/quizscorer.swf

http://www.quiz-creator.com/blog/2009/09/free-online-quiz-creator-tools-create-online-quizzes/