Differentiation + Technology = Time and Support for All Students To Learn

Students in schools with lower levels of student family incomes receive qualitatively different instruction than do students in schools with higher family incomes.  Specifically, there is an inverse relationship between low-income students and constructivist teaching (Abbott, 2003).  Technology helps teachers to create a more student-centered classroom and helps to facilitate a constructivist approach to learning, therefore it is easy to see how low-income schools such as ours struggle to provide a student-centered environment for students.

We subscribe to the Tomlinson et al (2003) definition of differentiation, “Differentiation can be defined as an approach to teaching in which teachers proactively modify curricula, teaching methods, resources, learning activities, and student products to address the diverse needs of individual students and small groups of students to maximize the learning opportunity for each student in a classroom.”

Marc Prensky (2008) defined the role of technology in education when he wrote, “The role of technology in our classrooms is to support the new teaching paradigm”.  The new teaching paradigm that Prensky was referring to was the shift from a teacher-centered to a student-centered classroom.

Now, combine Tomlinson’s definition of differentiation with Marc Prensky’s role of technology in education and you see how we aim to improve student achievement through the infusion of technology into our classrooms.  We aim to topple the standard equation of “Time + Support = Learning” where Time, Support are constants and Learning is the variable.  We aim to replace this traditional equation with “Time + Support = Learning” where Time and Support are VARIABLES and Learning is the CONSTANT.  In other words, you will learn – we will find the time and support for that to happen.  We feel that by differentiating instruction through the use of technology, we can provide a more student-centered approach for our kids where all students get the time and support they need to be successful.

Abbott, M. (2003). Constructivist Teaching and Student Achievement – Seattle Pacific … Retrieved from http://www.spu.edu/orgs/research/ObservationStudy-2-13-03.pdf.

Prensky, Marc (2008) The role of technology in teaching and the classroom.  Educational Technology, Nov-Dec 2008.

Tomlinson, C.A., et al (2003).  Differentiating instruction in response to student readiness, interest, and learning profile in academically diverse classrooms: a review of literature.  Journal for the Education of the Gifted. Vol. 27, No. 2/3, 2003, pp. 119-145.