2e. Coach in technology-enhanced learning experiences to differentiate

Reflection

Substandard 2E is about coaching and modeling the design and implementation of technology-rich experiences to support individualized learning. When some teachers hear the word individualization, they picture differentiation and various accommodations laid out in 504 or IEP plans. But individualized learning is much more than just meeting the needs of students with special needs; it’s about factoring all students’ abilities, interests, and personal goals into the process of curriculum development.

In the 21st Century classroom, teachers are guides instead of masters. Learning is not a one-way street. One size most definitely does not fit all. It’s an exciting time to be an educator, but it can also be a bit scary to relinquish control!

Technology can support teachers in meeting the needs of a variety of learners. In the past, differentiation meant that teachers were required to make multiple versions of the same test or assignment. With the use of technology and the implementation of open-ended, inquiry-driven units, teachers can personalize learning without making additional work for themselves. At the simplest level, technology can easily supplement instruction by giving students a choice between video demonstrations, articles, or PowerPoint presentations. At the more advanced levels, technology aids in anytime, anywhere learning where students explore content they are passionate about or publish original works to synthesize learning.

The evidence I have collected for Substandard 2E is meant to empower teachers as they consider ways in which students can have more voice and choice in the learning process. My first piece of evidence is a blog post I wrote on student blogging. My other piece of evidence is a blog post I wrote on using ‘playlists’ to personalize learning. Both resources are adaptable for a variety of subjects and support the incorporation of student voice and choice into the curriculum.

'How to Personalize Learning' Infographic by Mia MacMeekin; shared in accordance with CC-BY-NC-ND license

Evidence: Student Blogs to Support Personalized Learning

Students can utilize blogs in the classroom to set and achieve personal learning goals that correlate to learning standards. Though my case study was written for the Language Arts classroom, this is easily adaptable for other subjects. For example, blogging would be an excellent way to interact with Social Studies content in new ways or to share new knowledge from a Science course.

Students can choose how to demonstrate their learning and exercise choice in what they want to explore and write about. Blogging provides students with an authentic and real-world way to write frequently over an extended period of time for different purposes. Blogging is also an ideal way for students to collaborate in a way that is measurable by the teacher. For this peer feedback to be successful, online communication and collaboration must be explicitly taught and should be practiced informally before students move to actually commenting on live blog posts.

For an in-depth look at student blogging including advice on content, grading, and the collaboration process, please use the link below to access my blog post.

Evidence: Personalizing Learning with Playlists

Playlists are a creative way to use technology to individualize learning. The most basic description of a Learning Playlist is “an individualized digital assignment chart that students work through at their own pace” (Gonzalez, 2016). Tracy Enos developed the idea for Learning Playlists when she grew frustrated with trying to meet all students’ needs with a single lesson. She’s not alone in rejecting the one-size-fits-all approach. In fact, “[N]early 50% of the students in today’s classrooms have some form of learning diversity that impacts how they learn best” (Digitalpromise.org, 2016).  This diversity includes differences in background, history, culture, linguistics, and socioeconomic status (Digitalpromise.org, 2016). Given these needs, it’s no wonder teachers are turning to technology to help meet students’ individual needs. Playlists are one tool that can foster independence, allow for choice, and differentiate based on need. Playlists also take the responsibility for learning and place it in the hands of students.

For more on the ways in which Playlists support individualized learning and differentiation, please visit my blog post linked below.

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