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.

4 Pillars of the Flipped Classroom

Just read an interesting post by David Nagel of THE Journal.  He discusses a report, “A Review of Flipped Learning” by identifying the 4 pillars of the flipped classroom and then listing challenges and concerns.  

4 Pillars:

  1. Flexible environments
  2. Culture shift
  3. Intentional content
  4. Professional educators

Challenges and Concerns:

  1. Fear that the flipped classroom will lead to further standardization/privatization of education.
  2. Unequal access to technology
  3. Inability to engage students immediately when instruction is being delivered.

You can download the pdf of the 27 page report by clicking: LitReview_FlippedLearning


eTech Summer Summit

Having a great day at the eTech Ohio Summer Summit.  See this for an interesting presentation on the basics of the Chrome book and Chromebox.

Also, good information on PARCC Testing.  Important to participate in any trials that are offered down the road.  Assessment registration and validation.  Tracking results and being able to report results.  The scale of PARCC’s testing system will be immense.  20-25 million users (Students) with content being delivered both ways in a short period of time.   Comparable and perhaps more immense than Amazon or the IRS.

PARCC is in the process of developing an open source architecture for testing content. This won’t be in play until at least the second year of PARCC.

Sending students to computers or sending computers to students?

Final word – don’t look for sample items anytime soon as vendors have not been chosen yet.



Good Blog Post on Pros & Cons of the Flipped Classroom

Mary Beth Hertz, an elementary computer teacher in Philadelphia, PA wrote an interesting blog post at Edutopia. In the post she presents some pros and cons of the flipped classroom model.

In this post, I will present some of her pros and let you got to her post to read the cons. The following are some important points about flipping the classroom that Mary Beth blogs about:

  • The most important thing about the flipped classroom is the face to face interaction and meaningful learning activities.
  • It should be a mixture of direct instruction and constructivism.
  • For students to be successful in a flipped model – videos must include a variety of approaches.

Here are some of the pros, according to Mary Beth Hertz, of the flipped classroom model:

  • Allows students to individualize their learning and move at their own pace.
  • Students can review what they need – when they need it.
  • Students can catch up on missed lessons.

Check out her post for the cons – if you are a classroom teacher, I think the challenges she lists will resonate with you.

Don’t Collaborate Without a Protocol!

This article from the Center for Comprehensive School Reform and Improvement is one of many that warns school leaders of the dangers of putting teachers in a room to collaborate without a highly structured protocol guiding their conversation.

This video below of a highly motivated team, working hard and working together shows that without a plan – teamwork doesn’t always result in the positive outcomes that you might envision.