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Tagged With: differentiation

Differentiation Simplified with Study.com

study.comStudy.com is an online distance learning portal that provides over 70,000 lessons in fifteen subjects (including algebra, calculus, chemistry, macro- and microeconomics, and physics) aligned with many popular textbooks. Resources include not only videos but study tools, guides, and more. You can read more detail on my Study.com review here.

Today, I want to talk about Study.com’s emphasis on differentiation (click here for more detail on that).

When I first discovered Study.com, I was blown away by its unique approach to providing passionate learners with a college education that fit their lifestyle. If you are that person who struggles with traditional campus-based classes, has a full-time demanding job, can’t get to a campus because of transportation issues, lives on a tight budget but still values high-quality education, AND you are committed to earning a college degree, do yourself a favor and visit Study.com’s website. I’ve worked with Study.com in the past and come to realize the high value they place on differentiating instruction and meeting students where they are ready to learn, so when they wanted to share the news of their online class teaching the basics of differentiating in the classroom, they knew I would want to help.

To me and many other educators:

Differentiated instruction is at the core of effective teaching.

What is differentiation?

Differentiated learning can be defined this way:

With differentiated instruction, teachers proactively create options to accommodate a diverse range of learners while keeping the whole class on track. Teachers observe students carefully in order to design experiences that match the learning styles of the class and the differing levels of ability and understanding.  —Study.com

You might call it ‘personalized learning’ or even ‘blended learning’ but at its most basic, differentiated learning is teaching in ways that best serve individual students–providing different resources and lesson plans to suit different learning styles. If for you, the term ‘differentiation’ should always be followed with, “Where am I supposed to find the time?“, it’s because too often, differentiation is conflated with the tedium of creating individual lesson plans for each and every student. Me, I’ve never done that. Instead, I offer a variety of media that address the lesson. Students do the work of picking what is best for them and selecting the assessment medium best suited to their communication style be it audio, video, text, visual, music, art, or another.

Key principles of differentiation

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Categories: Reviews, Web Tools | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

Differentiating with Personalized Learning

Personalized learning is the latest buzzword in an education environment bursting with new ideas but this one is impressive. In a sentence, personalized learning:

“tailors instruction, expression of learning, and assessment to each student’s unique needs and preferences.” — ISTE

If you think it sounds like differentiated instruction, it does with this caveat: Personalized learning is student-directed, student-paced, and designed for each learner.

Why switch to personalized learning?

There are many reasons to take a deep dive into personalized learning. Some schools realize students aren’t learning to their full potential. They see this not just in test results but in student response to the grade-level curricula. They feel it is unrelated to what happens to them outside of school. We as teachers know that math and science can easily be taught using real-life experiences in lieu of a textbook. The problem in the past has been convincing our learning partners of that truth. Now, anecdotal evidence shows that well-delivered personalized learning encourages excitement about learning, improves test scores, and leaves students wanting to learn even complicated math and science topics.

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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: , , | Leave a comment

What is the VARK model of Student Learning?

varkIf you use the VARK model of Student Learning, you know why I’m excited about it. VARK started as a questionnaire to help students and teachers understand their best approach to learning but has since become more of a guideline for teaching and learning. The questionnaire is deliberately short (thirteen-sixteen questions, depending upon which version you take) in order to prevent student survey fatigue.

The acronym VARK refers to four learning modalities — Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic. Though often classroom lessons focus on the Visual, with a bit of preparation, they can be taught using all four modalities thus accommodating students who learn best in a different way. Why go through this extra effort? VARK’s creator, Neil Fleming, explains it this way:

  • Students’ preferred learning modes have a significant influence on their behavior and learning.
  • Information that is accessed through students’ use of their modality preferences shows an increase in their levels of comprehension, motivation, and metacognition.

For me, that extra time and effort is a no-brainer. Let me back up a moment and explain how I got to that point. I realized after a few years of teaching that something was wrong with the methodology I had been taught. Lots of clever, smart kids weren’t getting what I was putting out. I taught in a way that addressed how the majority learned (because that covered most kids, didn’t it?) but that turned out to be more like a plurality. Or less. In fact, where that plurality of kids might be the biggest group in the class, those that weren’t learning in this prescriptive manner was an even bigger group. To say it another way:

What the Bell Curve considers the “typical student” was always far outnumbered by those who weren’t.

Interestingly enough, Dr. Fleming reports that Kinesthetics (the K in VARK) is the most common learning style though not the most common teaching style.

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Categories: Education reform, Teaching Strategies | Tags: , , | 3 Comments

What is a Growth Mindset?

growth mindsetIt’s no secret many parents are frustrated with public schools. Are kids learning to think or just to pass tests? Are they spending classroom time wisely or just doing what’s always been done? Are we developing lifelong learners or simply kids who can’t wait to graduate?

If this describes you, you’re not alone in your concerns, but there’s hope. Consider a pedagogy that transcends rote memorization and the stock drills often found in today’s classrooms, expects critical thinking that teaches how to learn anything — not just school subjects. It’s called a “Growth Mindset”. In an Edsurge article by Rupa Gupta, former Redesign Administrator at Burnett Middle School in San Jose, Calif., she summarized the issue like this:

“In a recent national survey, 97 percent of teachers agreed that all students can and should have a growth mindset, and that same number said fostering a growth mindset is an important part of a teacher’s job. Yet only 50 percent said they have adequate solutions and strategies to shift mindset.”

So nearly everyone agrees this type of cerebral approach is important to real learning but few know how to make it happen.

What is Growth Mindset?

Let me back up a moment and define “Growth Mindset” more clearly. Most people believe basic human qualities like intelligence and talent are fixed traits: nature supersedes nurture. Kids are born with the characteristics that will mold their future. They are good at math or they aren’t. They can throw a football well or not. As kids grow, they figure out what they can and can’t do and adjust learning and life as needed to these truths. They come to believe that understanding and adapting to this process equates to success.

In a Growth Mindset, people believe ability can be developed through dedication and hard work. The cerebral and physical traits they were born with are just the starting point. Students are responsible for setting the patterns and strategies that allow them to succeed, by evaluating what they can do at any given point and making a plan for learning everything else.

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Categories: Classroom management, Critical thinking, Education reform | Tags: , | 3 Comments

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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Categories: Classroom management, Problem solving, Tech tips | Tags: , | 5 Comments

Differentiate with Tech–Starts June 12th!

How to Make Differentiation Fast and Easy with Tech

Starts Monday! Last chance to sign up. This Ask a Tech Teacher online class is only offered for college credit. Click the link above and select MTI 563.

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Categories: Online education | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #127: 12 Tips on Hard-to-teach Classes

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: #127–12 Tips on Hard-to-teach Classes

Category: Differentiation

Sub-category: Teaching, Classroom management, Pedagogy

Here are twelve ideas:

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Categories: Classroom management, Problem solving, Tech tips | Tags: , | 2 Comments

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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Categories: Classroom management, Education reform | Tags: , , | 2 Comments

169 Tech Tip #116–How to Take Screenshots

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: #116–How to Take Screenshots

Category: CLASSROOM MANAGEMENT

Sub-category: Keyboarding, PC, Mac, iPad, Chromebook

Here are the screenshot shortkeys for five platforms:

  • Windows: a tool included in Windows called the Snipping Tool
  • Chromebooks: Ctrl+Window Switcher key
  • Mac: Command Shift 3 for a full screenshot; Command Shift 4 for a partial screenshot
  • Surface tablet: hold down volume and Windowsbutton
  • iPad: hold Home button and power button simultaneously

There are also screenshot programs you can download like Jing and Printkey (the latter uses your keyboard’s Print Scr key) or use from your browser (like Nimbus or Snagit). Each has a different selection of annotation tools. You may find this works better for your needs.

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Categories: Classroom management, Images, Problem solving, Tech tips | Tags: , , , , , | Leave a comment

169 Tech Tip #146: 18 Ideas for Warm-ups, Exit Tickets

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: #146–18 Ideas for Warm-ups, Exit Tickets

Category: ASSESSMENTS

Sub-category: Classroom Management, Writing, Differentiation

Here are eighteen ideas for class warm-up and exit tickets:

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Categories: Classroom management, Tech tips, Writing | Tags: , , | Leave a comment