Showing posts with label Differentiated Instruction. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Differentiated Instruction. Show all posts

Thursday, November 15, 2018

A Digital Differentiation Model

This week I am hosting some guest bloggers. This entry is from Danielle Lagnese.

Personalizing learning in my classroom four years ago was challenging. To say the least. Imagine eight red buckets from Dollar Tree filled with binder clipped packets of worksheets. We did the best we could, but humidity curled the papers beyond recognition. Activities were limited to what could fit on a piece of 8X11 white paper. Students were compliant, but the activities were antiquated even if my desire to reach each student where they were was genuine.

In 2015, we moved to having Chromebooks carts in each Social Studies Classroom and using Google Classroom districtwide. My ability to make differentiation manageable, rather than something that would overload me, changed overnight. I was faced with an opportunity to create a system that would reflect the pedagogy I believed in and serve my students without sacrificing my personal style. Creating “learning playlists” have improved ability to differentiate in a digital environment. They’ve given my students choice, voice, an opportunity to reflect on their learning, and an increased growth mindset. They’ve given me a chance to try out new tools, adapt my instruction anytime, and a refuge from red buckets of crumpled worksheets. I’m able to do all of this with Google Forms, Google Sheets, and Google Classroom.

My unit planning starts the creation of a playlist - here’s a PDF of the finish product. I consider which learning activities all students must do within this curriculum. The diversity of my students makes this a small number. Our students’ reading, writing, vocabulary, listening, and technology skills range widely and I want to move all students forward while meeting each exactly where they are. This is not a science and it’s something I hope to improve at every day.

The top part of the Google Sheet contains these required activities. I try to make it as visual as possible and I mix colors and images to help students use the sheet as independently as possible.

In the initial planning phase, I leave a few of these rows blank so that I can use formative assessments to make decision about what activities are necessary for all students as we move through the unit. This should be a living document that I can adjust at any time as I teach real humans whose capacities expand constantly.

The bottom part of the Google Sheet contains individual activities. This is a much larger area of real estate on the sheet, which reflects the percentage of activities are personalized in my 8th grade Social Studies class. This may look different in different subject areas and grade levels.

After I have created categories for the unit, I add individual activities. This can be extensive. One unit can have 15-20 activities in the individual section. The best way to “make it manageable” here is to collaborate with your departments or grade levels. Take advantage of the best resources around you - other educators.

Within each category, there may be different choices - leveled, specific skills, or choices for different interests:

The most important column in the individualized section is the materials section. This is where all the learning lives. Some links prompt students to make copies of activities, or link to directions, flipped videos, Google Forms, or other digital tools. I can pull students to a small group for extra practice at any time and they can track and reflect on that practice in this space.

I leave a spot below this blank canvas for students to write in their goal and the amount of points they’ve earned. I use a formula so the sheet works for kids to automatically track their progress. As we progress through the unit, my kids conference with me constantly. I give them feedback, they use evidence from their work to convince me how many “points” should be earned for each activity.

Goals are set on the first day of the unit using Google Form. Students answer questions like these to evaluate their strengths and calculate a points goal.

The final step is the “assessment conference” I have with students. Students run the conference. Here’s a script for how I model that. They tell me what activities they did, why they chose them, how they used the feedback the got, and why they deserve to have met their goal. If students didn’t meet their goal, we reflect on that together and come up with ways to meet them in the future. Using this method has made personalization manageable for me and I hope that it can help you too!

Danielle Lagnese is a middle school Social Studies teacher in East Windsor, NJ. She has presented at conferences around the state about digital differentiation and using technology to personalize learning. You can follow her @MissLagnese on Twitter.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Differentiated Professional Development with BloomBoard

BloomBoard was founded in 2010 as a teacher coaching platform that would serve as a way to provide teachers with differentiated instruction. BloomBoards are curated by content area experts and cover a variety of topics from using Twitter for Professional Development to ways to teach math through music and everything in between. Each board has a manageable number of quality resources including blog posts, video, podcast, and websites. Each resource includes an explanation from the curator about why they included it on the board.

If you want to go beyond casually exploring the boards, you can earn micro-credentials for completing a series of activities. In some instances, you can even earn graduate credit.

Applications for Education
Teachers are constantly seeking out new ways to learn. BloomBoard provides a way for teachers to find resources that fit their interest and skill level. Bloomboard was designed to be used by teachers and what teachers learn from these resources will have a direct impact on the classroom.

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.

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.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Kids Numbers - Learning Math Step by Step

Kids Numbers is a basic mathematics program featured on the Kids Know It Network. Kids Numbers contains a twelve week program for learning addition and subtraction. As a part of the program there are twenty-one games designed for practicing and reinforcing addition and subtraction skills.

Kids Numbers also offers a seventeen week program for learning multiplication and division. Just as in the addition and subtraction program, the multiplication and division program contains games designed for practicing the skills acquired through the training program.

In addition to the basic mathematics training program, Kids Numbers offers some introductory games for pre-Algebra and basic Geometry. Teachers looking to create worksheets can use the free worksheet generator offered by the Kids Know It Network.

Applications for Education
Kids Numbers could be an excellent source of practice and reinforcement activities for elementary school mathematics students. The sequence of activities and games could help teachers differentiate within the classroom as students can work on the lessons and play the games individually. Kids Numbers and the Kids Know It Network are sites that you may want to recommend to parents that are looking for academic websites for their children to use at home.

Here are some related resources that may be of interest to you:
Free Math Worksheets
Fun 4 The Brain - Great Educational Games
Math Links You Might Have Missed

FREE National Geographic map with purchases $65+!

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Obama's Inaugural Address Subtitled in 3 Languages

Dot Sub is a video sharing website that I wish more people would use. Dot Sub allows users to upload videos and subtitle the video in any language. Once your video is uploaded you can do the translating yourself or allow others to contribute to translation process. Dot Sub has uses in foreign language classes as well as for teaching students with hearing impairments.

Below you will see President Obama's inaugural address. Currently, the video can be watched with English, Spanish, or German subtitles.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tutsearch - Find an Online Tutorial

Tutsearch is a recommendation service and search engine for online tutorials. Tutsearch has indexed more than one hundred tutorial websites. If what they have indexed doesn't offer what you need, try the tutorial search engine. On Tutsearch you can find tutorials for everything from writing html code to improving your command of the English language.

Applications for Education
Tutsearch could be a useful resource for teachers that are looking for websites that students can use for independent learning. If you're a computer science teacher, Tutsearch is especially handy for quickly finding tutorials in html and CSS.

Monday, December 8, 2008

What I'm Using Right Now... Slavery and the Making of America

I get asked, by my immediate colleagues and by readers, on a fairly regular basis "which Internet resources are you using in your classroom?" Aside from the five that I use regularly throughout the year (Google Docs, Zoho Show, Google Earth/Maps, Edublogs, and I use other resources depending on where I am in my curriculum. In response to the question, "which Internet resources are you using in your classroom" I will try to start sharing more of what I'm using in my classroom from week to week. I teach six courses that are leveled 1,2, and 3 where 1 is your typical college bound student and 3 is comprised entirely of special education students of varying ability. At different times I'll share the resources I'm using with each class.

This week my level three class is wrapping up an assignment in which they created comparison charts outlining the similarities and differences between the American Revolution, the War of 1812, and the US-Mexican War. All of the students have finished making their charts and are now writing a short essay in which they explain a pattern they've identified. As the students finish they will then move on to the PBS website Slavery and the Making of America. Exploring this website will give my students exposure to some of the terms and ideas that they will learn as we study Antebellum America, the Civil War, and Reconstruction.

Applications for Education
Slavery and the Making of America is a good resource for students to independently explore the history of slavery in the United States. On Slavery and the Making of America students can explore an interactive timeline, listen to slave voices, and view four online exhibits in a virtual museum.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

SpellTube - Customized Spelling Video Lists

As of September 1, 2010 SpellTube is offline as it searches for funding.

SpellTube is an interesting resource for teaching and learning to spell. Tom Barrett included Spell Tube in his recent post about video resources for spelling, maths, and science. SpellTube provides spelling lessons in the form of videos that feature child actors explaining spelling concepts and rules. For example, one lesson starts with the reminder from Egon to "drop the 'e' before adding vowel suffixes."

SpellTube allows teachers to create their own customized list of words for their students to learn. Students get their own unique login credentials that are matched to their teacher's word lists.

Applications for Education
SpellTube could be a good resource for students to use to learn independently. SpellTube allows students to progress at their own pace which helps teachers to differentiate their instruction within the classroom. One word of caution for US teachers, SpellTube is a UK based website so when selecting words for your spelling lists be sure to select words that are spelled the same in both countries. For example, words that contain the use of "z" like "customized" in the US, may be spelled with "s" by SpellTube.

If anyone is aware of version of SpellTube, please leave a comment for all of us.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Five Interactive Geography Activities

Interactive maps are good tools for students to use independently to learn and study geography. The following five websites are good places to find a wide variety of interactive geography activities.

National Geographic Kids has a wide variety of games, puzzles, and activities for students of elementary school age. National Geographic Kids has nine games specifically for developing geography skills.

Learning Together offers four activities for learning about the geography of the United States. Learning Together also offers a game about world geography and a game about European geography.

Owl and Mouse Educational Software
offers nine, free, interactive maps for students. The maps cover every continent except Antarctica.

Lizard Point gives students 36 interactive maps to study. The maps cover basic world geography as well as specific geography questions for various regions and countries around the world.

Traveler IQ Challenge
has 14 interactive geography activities. The activities can be embedded in a blog or website. If it is an option for you, I recommend embedding the activities into your class blog or website to cut down on the number of advertisements that your students see.

Math Games, Word Games, Strategy Games and More

The Problem Site is loaded with great games for students. Some of the games are traditional "hang-man" style games, some of the games are traditional games with a twist, and some of the games are completely new. Each game is designed to help students develop problem solving skills. The games are categorized as word games, math games, or strategy games. In addition to those categories there are two sections that offer non-game challenge problems.

Applications for Education
The Problem Site is a good place for teachers to direct students toward to practice problem solving skills individually. The games are probably best suited for use in middle school or upper elementary school grades. Some of the games have different levels of difficulty that students can choose from making those games good resources for differentiation within the classroom.

Monday, September 8, 2008

Interactive Maps and Timelines

Yes, I'm on a maps kick lately, partly because there are so many great map mashups created daily on the Internet, and partly because I just find maps fascinating. Unfortunately, for teachers not all students find maps or timelines interesting. In the pre-Internet world maps and timelines were pretty one dimensional and lacked any interactive capacity. So while they provided some great information, the amount of information each contained was limited by the physical constraints of ink and paper size. Today, teachers and students have a wealth of interactive maps and timelines to use as an educational experience.

Here are three great examples of interactive maps and timelines.
1. Animated Atlas has a free map that shows the growth of United States. As you drag the cursor across the timeline at the bottom of the Animated Atlas the states appear in sequence. Clicking on each state in the Animated Atlas reveals some basic information about that state.

2. features five interactive map activities. The activities include quizzes based on each map as well as learning tutorials connected to each map.

3. The most interesting and probably the best interactive map and timeline combination I've seen is found on the digital history website produced by the University of Houston. The Digital History Interactive Map and Timeline combination provides information for each year in North America since 1590. The information is categorized as political, social/ economic, or cultural. As you drag the cursor across the timeline more information appears. Information is represented by a small symbol. Clicking on one of the symbols reveals the story. Below is a screen shot of the Digital History Interactive Map.

Applications for Education
Interactive maps and timelines are great resources for having students explore a broad topic independently. One of the ways that I've used interactive timelines in the past is as a jumping-off point for students to start an independent (or group) research project. Using a tool like an interactive map or timeline gives students an opportunity to try out or explore a number of topics in a short time before jumping into one specific topic. The interactive maps that are connected to quizzes are useful review tools for students studying at home or outside of your classroom.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Who Wants to Be a Science Millionaire?

Jefferson Lab is a great place to find educational online games and puzzles. I discovered this resource when one of my students played "Who Wants to Win $1,000,000?" during some free computer time this afternoon. The games and puzzles are primarily designed for math and science with one word game thrown in for good measure.

Applications for Education
The games from Jefferson Lab are great practice for applying science and math knowledge to problem solving. Jefferson Lab also has a great Teacher Resources page full of lesson plans for hands-on activities, study pages, and reference materials.

Friday, August 8, 2008

Website Translation from Google - Great for ESL

Google Translate is another great, free, tool from Google that educators might find useful. I learned about Google Translate from Terrie Byrne (we're not related that I know of) at Learn Perfect English. There are two options for using Google Translate. Option one is to copy and paste chunks of text from a website into the translate text box provided by Google then select the languages you wish to translate from and to. The second option is to copy and paste a website's url into the url box provided by Google Translate then select the languages you wish to have the content translated from and to. It's a simple system and is still in beta, but it worked well for the few websites I tested it with today.

The image below shows what the Google Translate system looks like.

Applications for Education
Google Translate should be a useful tool for ESL students and teachers. Google Translate will also be useful for foreign language students to practice and check their translations of vocabulary. One way that a foreign language teacher might use Google Translate is to have students search the Internet for a current events story (either hard news or entertainment news) then translate it into the language they're learning. Using Google Translate students will be able to check their work individually which allows the teacher more flexibilty in differentiating classroom instruction.

Monday, May 19, 2008

Kids Past - History Textbook and Games for Kids

Kids Past has put together an easy to read World History "textbook" for kids. Kids Past also offers five history games to which students can apply the knowledge the find in the textbook. The textbook and games correspond to each other.

Applications for Education
The Kids Past World History textbook could be a nice supplement to a classroom textbook or lesson. A teacher could use the games as a review activity for students. With the congruence between the textbook and the games a student could have two browser tabs or windows open and refer back to the textbook when they get stuck on a question. Educational games like those offered on Kids Past can be super opportunities to assess a student's learning in an informal environment that they enjoy. Educational games are also a method of allowing students to progress at a self determined pace.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Word Games to Improve Writing and Vocabulary

Most good word games are simple, but powerful tools for practicing, developing, and improving writing and vocabulary skills. Word games can be found included on a number of social networking websites as well as on educational websites. Many online word games are easily embedded into blogs or websites. Including a word game on a class blog is another way to increase student engagement with your blog. has a number of word games designed for school use. The games on range from simple hangman style games to games that challenge a player's knowledge of definitions and ability to use suffixes and prefixes.

Word Twist
is an online version of the popular board game, Boggle. Word Twist comes in two versions a four by four grid and a five by five grid. The purpose of Word Twist is to identify as many words as possible using the letters in the grid.

Super Text Twist is a simple word game similar to Word Twist which asks plays to identify words from a set of jumbled letters. The Super Text Twist game be played online or downloaded for use offline.

Applications for Education
Word games are great way to get students excited about and hooked on vocabulary practice. Word games and educational games in general are good tools for differentiating instructional time in a heterogeneous classroom.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Number Nut - Games and Word Problems for Math is a part of the Rader's family of educational games and activities that I learned about via Twitter (follow me here). Number Nut provides some great games with which students can practice and develop their math skills. Unlike many other Math game websites, Number Nut includes some word problems that force students to problem solve rather than just recall information from rote memorization.

Applications for Education
Number Nut's categorization makes it easy for teachers to differentiate and select the games or activities most appropriate for each student. The games and activities on Number Nut range from very simple things like recognizing shapes and colors to more complex concepts like calculating ratios. The math glossary available on Number Nut is helpful for students unfamiliar with a term or concept to problem solve on their own.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Super Maths World

Super Maths World is a great website of activities and games for learning and practicing mathematics skills. Super Maths World has some great interactive visual depictions of mathematics concepts. For example, the graphing section allows students to instantly see the effects of a change in the value of "x" on the slope of a line.
Super Maths World produces many games in which students can test their mathematics skills. The games appear to be flash based and have the feel of playing a "real" video game. Each game gives instant feedback and students can track their progress with the progress tracker.

Applications for Education
Super Maths World is great tool for differentiated math classrooms. The activities offered on Super Maths World are suitable for students in elementary, middle, and high school. The progress tracker is a good way for self-directed learners to measure their progress. The progress tracker and scores could also be used by teachers as a means of measuring a student's development.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Physics 4 Kids

Rader's Physics 4 Kids is part of a series of Rader's 4 Kids lessons about science. Physics 4 Kids takes students on tours of different sub-topics of physics. After each stop on the tour there is a quiz that students can take to test their understanding of each topic. Along with text and image information there are some short videos about different physics concepts along the tour.

Applications for Education
Student directed tours like the ones offered on Physics 4 Kids are great tools for differentiating activities within the classroom. Physics 4 Kids is a good resource for science teachers to link to a class web page or blog so that students and parents can study and test themselves outside of the classroom.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Free Technology For Teachers: Sheppard Software - Activities for All Grades and Subjects

Sheppard Software has a great collection of free educational software that teachers and students can download for Windows operating systems. (Some programs may work with Mac, but I couldn't make them work correctly on my Mac).

Not to worry tough Mac users because Sheppard Software has a fantastic collection of free web-based educational games. As you can see in the image below, Sheppard Software's free games cover Science, Math, Social Studies, and Language Arts. Most of the games are appropriate for elementary and middle school students, but some games are appropriate for high school students. The geography games are particularly good.

Applications for Education
Educational games are good way for students to practice skills and use prior learning. Educational games have value for teachers in heterogeneous classrooms as educational games are a good tool for differentiating instruction.
One of the highlights of the geography game about Asia is that students can hear country names pronounced. This is particularly useful for American students who can struggle with the pronunciation of country names like Kyrgyzstan or Tajikistan.