Friday, August 19, 2011

Differentiated Instruction

Dennis Grice is an award-winning educator out of Southern California who champions technology for the classroom. He shared a blog post recently about differentiated instruction, providing a different view of how we can see our students AND teachers. It's worth the time to read it here at the beginning of the year.

As educators, we have to remember that our students learn in many different ways and we are tasked with meeting those needs all year. Technology use in the classroom must also bear the weight of differentiation since not all of our students (or teachers) have the same level of technology experience.  It is incumbent upon us to not avoid authentic opportunities for technology integration because all of our students won't be fearless with the new concept, but we can use our junior Steve Jobs in the classroom to help us scaffold a lesson so we can have that experience.

How can we provide a range of technology instruction in the classroom?

  • Pre-teach a small group of your techno-fearless students a particular skill that will be used during a lesson. They can help provide leadership in small groups when you can't be everywhere at once.
  • Use Science-lab procedures when working in small groups. Assign four different roles in the group that rotate for the next project.  Techno-reluctant students can observe and learn skills while still being an active part of the project.
  • Just as we sometimes provide a rich assortment of student product materials for certain lessons, we can provide the opportunity for students to use technology tools that meet their capacity for showing excellence.  Some students may just be showing minimal proficiency with MS Word document creation while another may use Publisher to show the same lesson outcome.  Teacher-provided photo banks can help beginners focus on the content rather than the search for the perfect photo online, while other student may have the opportunity to take their original photos for the same exercise. 
  • An beginning-level user may start a project with a teacher-provided template while a student who has a deeper understanding may be able to create their own document from scratch with more freedom.
There are just a few ideas. What ways have you found to provide multiple levels of instruction using technology in your class?   What tools do you think provide a good opportunity to differentiate during a particular lesson?

We look forward to continuing this discussion this year.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Technology Leadership on Campus

One of the people I follow online is a principal named Lyn Hilt from Pennsylvania. She provides a very enthusiastic viewpoint for her administrator peers about the role of technology in the classroom.  A post of hers was shared in my online professional circle about how the bar for technology use is being raised for administrators and how principals across the country are rising to that call.  Read her post here: .

Now, I was very fortunate to provide some workshop time for many of our administrators here in Austin, right before school started, and I was impressed with the desire for appropriate use of technology that many of them shared.  We are just out of the gate now with a number of new online tools for assessment and communication and there does seem to be a general understanding that these tools can make a good difference in how we serve our kids in school.

I'd like to thank all of our AISD Principals for their service to our district and the leadership that they can bring to teachers for an advancement in authentic use of technology in AISD teaching and learning.