Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Differentiation Tip: Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests

Current and emerging technology gives us many ways to differentiate according to student interests.  Most students these days are interested in technology, and they use technology to navigate their world. They use it to play games, watch TV and movies, communicate with friends, etc.  Just by using technology in school, we're probably tapping into an interest of most students.  At the very least, we are connecting students with their world.

 Ideas for Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests:
  • Keep student interests in mind when searching for videos to use with students.  If you know that many of your students like sports, try to find sports videos that go along with math concepts you're teaching.  If many of your students enjoy watching movies, try to find movie clips where math is being used.  
  • Create a classroom blog, website, and/or Social Network (ex. Ning, Social Go).  These days Social Media is everywhere.  Today's students are used to being part of a social community.  Creating classroom blogs or websites is another way to help build and extend the community you create with students in the classroom.  Blogs and websites also allow you to involve parents in your classroom activities.  If you're worried about what students will post, most blogging and Social Network platforms give you the ability to monitor content.
  • When having students create a product to demonstrate learning, allow them to choose a format for creating the product.  For example, students could create a GlogPrezi (zooming presentation editor), make a video about the concept, write a song about the topic, create a Voice Thread about the topic.  This list could go on for a while.  There are so many new Web Applications that allow students to create amazing products.  The idea here is to allow students to choose which type of the product they'd like to create based on their particular interest.  (interactive poster), create a
  • Create a Live Binder based on the math topic you're teaching.  Fill the binder with websites, videos, images, and documents that students can use to learn about and practice the math concept.  You could require that some resources be used by all students, but then allow students to choose other resources which are helpful to them.  For example, some students may want to watch a video of someone demonstrating how to work out a problem, some students may want to play a game to practice their skill at solving problems, or some students may want to use virtual manipulatives to help them understand the math concept.  The added benefit to creating a Live Binder like this, is that students can access it from home! 
These are just a few ideas for Using Technology to Differentiate According to Student Interests.  We'll explore more ways to do this in upcoming Differentiation Tips.

Do you have any suggestions for using technology as a way to differentiate instruction?  If so, please leave a comment and tell us your ideas.

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