Sunday, March 20, 2011

Using Instructional Websites to Differentiate

Differentiated instruction is the process of ensuring that what a student learns, it is learned, and how the student demonstrates what is learned, student’s readiness level, interests, and preferred mode of learning. Differentiation stems from beliefs about differences among learners, how they learn, learning preferences and individual interests. Differentiation in education can also include how a student shows that they have mastery of a concept. This could be through a research paper, role play, computer usage, diagram, poster, etc. The key is finding how students learn and meeting those needs.

The author of this article is an eighth grade science teacher with a Special Education degree. He is always accommodating and modifying for students with IEP's, but also "going beyond that to offer multi-modal, engaging instruction and assessment for all students.  The question was always, how?" In the five years in his current position, he's fought to incorporate the latest and greatest technology in order to keep up with his students' needs. He has been successful for the most part, but after all of the school's purchases, "beyond the smart board, document camera and the Flip video, the single most comprehensive differentiation tool we use is our instructional website". The use of a classroom website in the classroom has changed the way the teachers teach, and the way the students learn. All of the other technology used, can be brought together on the website. Students can access  it and have input on what they want to see there, and what helps them most. Websites are an outstanding way to reach students who are kinesthetic/tactile learners. "A dynamic animation of a concept on the smart board (many recent textbooks provide access to free links) can get kinesthetic learners (and students who flourish with attention) up and moving."

Instructional websites also provide in-class individual engagement for students with behavior management issues, perhaps at a computer station with an aide, keeping students in class rather than out in a behavior room. Online textbooks and textbooks on CD provide an alternative for low readers, but managing CD players and other equipment can be an issue. By posting textbook audio clips to the site, scaffolding for low readers is easily accessible--in class, during the review cycle, or out of class with support.

It may be that teachers value their time so much, that they don't want to take what little time they have in order to create a class website. However, "the benefit of investing the time to build a content-rich instructional site, for a subject with a recent adoption, is that curriculum elements, once posted, will be useful for years. So in fact, it saves prep time over the long run."

With an instructional website, assessments and re-assessments can be made easier, and the interest level of the learner is heightened, and kept for longer periods of times. Technology is all around us, and the internet is a very big part of our lives. With a classroom instructional website, it is possible that all learners will benefit, especially those who need that extra support.

No comments:

Post a Comment