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Monday, August 8, 2011

10 Common Challenges We'll Face This Fall - Challenge #3: Differentiation

Image Credit: Nickwheeleroz
One of my most popular presentations, the one that I'm most frequently asked to give, is 10 Common Challenges Facing Educators. When giving this presentation I outline challenges that classroom teachers often face and present some resources and strategies for addressing those challenges. In preparation for the new school year I've created a series of blog posts based on my presentation. Today's post is about some of my favorite resources for finding differentiated reference materials.

Video
It was during a classroom viewing of a reel-to-reel movie (yes, I'm just barely old enough to have experienced those an all of their frequently jamming glory) that I realized that I really enjoyed the stories of history. It wasn't until much later after my freshman year of college that I decided to really study history. Fast forward to 2011 and there is 35 hours of video content uploaded to YouTube every minute. The point is, video is a popular and engaging medium. Unfortunately, many schools block all access to YouTube in classrooms. If you find yourself in that situation, here are 47 Alternatives to Using YouTube in the Classroom.

Podcasts, Open Courses, and Audio Books
No longer is access to the world's most highly regarded scholars limited to those who can afford an Ivy League education. Through iTunes U and other channels like Yale's Open Courses anyone can watch and listen to Ivy League lectures. In many cases the hand-outs and assignments are available to accompany open lectures.

Books Should Be Free provides audio recordings of hundreds of books in the public domain. Recordings hosted on Books Should Be Free are available for online listening or downloading to your computer and or iPod.

Books and Other Reading Materials
One of my favorite resources for expanding my students' reading choices is Google Books. With Google Books I can create and share virtual shelves of books with each of my classes. I typically will do this when giving students a Civil War reading assignment. Our school's library only has about 30 books on the Civil War that are appropriate for the assignment. To offer more reading choices, I search Google Books for books that can be downloaded in their entirety from Google Books.

This year Google added a reading level filter to their search engine, but their rankings of reading material by "basic," "intermediate," and "advanced" makes you wishing for a little more refinement. For more refinement of search results according to reading level give Twurdy a try.

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