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tech tips

169 Tech Tip #126: 7 Tips to Differentiate with Tech

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #126–7 Tips to Differentiate with Tech

Category: Differentiation

Sub-category: Teaching, Pedagogy

Here are seven ways to differentiate instruction every day:

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tech tips

169 Tech Tip #126–7 Tips to Differentiate with Tech

tech tipsIn these 169 tech-centric situations, you get an overview of pedagogy—the tech topics most important to your teaching—as well as practical strategies to address most classroom tech situations, how to scaffold these to learning, and where they provide the subtext to daily tech-infused education.

Today’s tip: #126: 7 Tips to Differentiate with Tech

Category: Differentiation

Sub-category: Teaching, Pedagogy

Here are seven ways to differentiate instruction every day:

  1. While some students take their time to carefully finish a project as suits their learning style, others slam through the steps, looking for ‘what’s next’. Both are fine. Have a lot of authentic activities going on in your classroom so students are encouraged to work at their own pace. Let them self-manage their education. Be clear about your expectations, and then trust them to find their way. Have links on the class internet start page for organic learning like keyboarding practice and sponge websites that tie into subject area inquiry.
  2. Let students communicate ideas with not only text, but layout, color, and images. These can be graphic organizers like Venn Diagrams or pyramids, or an infographic made in ly. Let students
  3. Show students how to add pictures, borders, and fonts. Some students will tolerate the words to get to the decorating.
  4. Use online tools like Discovery Education’s Puzzle Maker to review concepts. Move away from rubrics and study guides. Anything that gamifies learning will go down easier with students. They are digital natives so let them learn in a more natural way.
  5. In fact, gamify anything possible. There are an amazing number of high-quality simulations that teach through games–Minecraft,iCivicsMission US, Lemonade StandHere’s a long list. There’s probably one for every subject. Take advantage of them.
  6. If students aren’t excited by the tools and widgets you offer, let them suggest their own. If they can make the argument for it, let them use it.
  7. Always offer do-overs. I call them ‘Mulligans’. In a differentiated classroom, let students redo an assignment. What if they didn’t understand? Or were sick? How does trying harder defeat education’s goal of learning? With technology, all students do is open their project and continue work based on your feedback. That’s cool. Rest assured: When you offer this in your classroom, most students won’t take you up on it. It’s too outside-the-box. You won’t be deluged with double the work. But, be happy if you are.

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What’s a Digipuzzle?

digital puzzlesNetherlands-based Digipuzzle is an online educational resource that offers hundreds of G-rated learning games for younger audiences, many in both Spanish and English.  Topics include math, animals, typing, geography, spelling, letter recognition, holidays, seasons, dinosaurs, USA, other games, and more.  Many of these are divided into subcategories — for example: Math includes games and counting, fractions, addition, subtraction, and multiplication. Digipuzzle even offers holiday games.  The site is easy to navigate, fun to use, and completely free. It is the labor of love from Marcel van de Wouw. It includes not only lots of themed puzzles, but Sudoku, line puzzles, search puzzles, dot-to-dot, tangrams, mosaics, and more.

You can use Digipuzzle on the web or as a mobile app.

Pros

Each game includes a sidebar with easy-to-understand icons that answer questions, access settings, and click you through available games.

Each game can be played at the level a student is comfortable — easy, normal, or hard — and can include audio or silent.

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human body 2nd grade

How to Teach the Human Body and 16 Sites to Help

24907582 happy studentFor many, study of the human body starts in second grade with an introduction to what’s inside that stretchy, durable skin that coats our bodies. As students progress through school, they dig deeper into concepts of body systems, organs, cells, diseases, and the importance of good health. Whether schools classify these topics as ‘health’ or ‘science’, the importance of understanding the processes that allow us to survive can’t be overstated. Prove this by asking students for personal examples of health problems that upended their lives. For some, it’s as normal as a broken arm, but for many more, it ends in hospitalizations and orphan diseases.

When teaching about the human body, start with a tool students are familiar with: the fill-in-the-blank worksheet. I see you roll your eyes, but bear with me as I drag this tried-and-true stalwart into the 21st Century. There are good reasons why worksheets have been the backbone of assessment for decades:

  • Students write or type the information (and get the benefits of note-taking).
  • Students read what they type (and get the benefits of reading).

This lesson plan, though, adds a few digital native twists. First, students create their own template in one of several ways:

  • draw it using the school’s drawing tool
  • take a picture of themselves with the iPad camera (or another digital camera)
  • use an avatar that has basically human parts (like a robot). This has the advantage of tying into class discussions on digital citizenship (why use avatars rather than the real picture?).

Next, students digitally label their ‘human body’. To do this, you might need to review the digital drawing tool (like Doodle Buddy or ScreenChomp), image editor (like Canva or PicMonkey), and/or the annotation tool (like iAnnotate or Notability) being used. Besides learning about their bodies, this integrates technology transparently into student learning, as a process rather than a product — as a tool used to complete their project.

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thanksgiving

18 Thanksgiving Sites and Apps For Students

tagul thanksgiving2Need a few websites and apps to fill in sponge time? Here are Thanksgiving sites that will keep students busy and still teach them:

  1. Canadian Thanksgiving
  2. Online/Offline Thanksgiving activities
  3. Plimoth Plantation–a field trip of a Pilgrim’s life. Included on this real-life site is a video of the Pilgrim’s crossing to the New World.
  4. Primary Games Thanksgiving Apps
  5. Starfall–Silly Turkey
  6. Thanksgiving Coloring Book App
  7. Thanksgiving edu-websites–CybraryMan
  8. Thanksgiving Games
  9. Thanksgiving games–Quia
  10. Thanksgiving information–history, morethanksgiving
  11. Thanksgiving Jigsaw
  12. Thanksgiving Jigsaw II
  13. Thanksgiving Lesson Plans
  14. Thanksgiving puzzle–by Digipuzzle
  15. Thanksgiving Tic-tac-toe
  16. Thanksgiving video–Brainpop
  17. Thanksgiving Wordsearch
  18. The First Thanksgiving

If you’re looking for projects, you’ll find two on Ask a Tech Teacher:

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internet start page

Tech Tip 117: How to Use an Internet Start Page

As a working technology teacher, I get hundreds of questions from parents and teachers about their computers, how to do stuff, how to solve problems. Each week, I’ll share one of those with you. They’re always brief and always focused. Enjoy!

Q: My students get distracted immediately when they go on the internet–by all the adds, bling, and websites they might like but I know are not age-appropriate.

When students open the internet, it should kick start their browsing experience, not leave them searching for a bookmark. As a teacher, you make this happen with what’s called an internet start page. It’s also your first line of defense in protecting students from the inherent dangers of using the internet because it focuses them on safe, age-appropriate sites that you have personally approved.

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