Differentiation, Balance, and support for implementation

The interviewee was an elementary teacher in the same school district. She has been teaching general Primary grades for the past 4 years. The interview was conducted at lunchtime in her classroom. Three key points were brought up in the discussion: differentiation, balancing technology and real-world activities, and supporting implementation.

Differentiation

The interviewee’s primary use of technology was to “support the math units” by “using the ipods as an extension for the grade 2’s”. This allowed her the freedom to work in a split class, “while the grade 2’s were still engaged with something that was math related on their own.” She also felt that technology was a valuable way to extend learning beyond the scope of science inquiry lessons. Using QR codes and a growing Youtube playlist, students could independently listen and learn. Other applications she used allowed her students to receive extra practice or review of a topic independently. Her main goal for having technology in the classroom came from a desire to differentiate for her learners. 

Balancing real-world and tech

The interviewee also stressed the importance of balancing the amount of technology students are exposed to with the physical opportunities of the real world. Much of the interview described ways in which students can “blend” the physical with the technological aspects of learning. By introducing coding and manipulative apps to her kids, she builds her students’ thinking of math and science to relate to the real-world. They can become better engaged if they know it “comes from something [they] used in real-life”.

Support towards Implementation

Finally, an ongoing challenge the interviewee felt she encountered was the need to “get the kids rolling” with new technology. At the younger ages, students have such diverse knowledge of how to use technology. She feels many activities need heavy teacher support to get going, that some of them are not worth all the effort it takes. Parent volunteers or older expert students could be a viable solution. She proposed a “tech circle” opportunity for older kids to teach younger kids similar to a literature circle. This way students can build their knowledge together and rely less on teacher support.

5 comments

  1. Jocelynn,

    I like how the educators you interviewed utilized QR codes linking to video playlists to allow students to learn at their own pace. I find this is a very large step towards personalized learning. It is great if the lessons (and there are many great lessons for free at Khan Academy) focus on the theory and can be applied to a number of different situations – for example if the student is working on a passion project but needs help with adding fractions.

    The idea of a tech circle is great! Our school has something similar but mostly just with the staff. Including older students in the mix is great because the act of teaching someone else solidifies your own understanding of that topic. I wonder if some kids who are proficient in the tech are able to teach students their own age (a strategy I utilize in my classes on a regular basis – I teach 9-12 though)?

    Baljeet

    1. I really like that idea of a tech circle as well. It’s definitely something that has not come up for me. This also provides teachers with an opportunity to learn from students that are proficient in certain technologies. I also think it’s important to see the application of math and science while using technology. This makes the technology actually relevant to the material instead of just being a medium for delivery of information.

      1. Hi Jocelyn and Momoe,

        The tech circle is an interesting concept when supporting younger students with devices. One thing that I have seen work really well was having the teacher-librarian work with student digital ambassadors during break times to support students who are working in the library. Students then learn these skills and act as coaches within the classroom to support students in their own classrooms and even in buddy classrooms. This is just one way of teaching students skills beyond technology, such as social skills on how to effectively communicate and collaborate across multi-age groups.

        Also, I really like the idea of developing class youtube playlists together with students as a means of extending discussions from class that can be viewed at home. This is a way for students to display taking meaningful action when the make connections between classroom content in their own time. This reflection adds to the overall objectives of the lesson.

        Thanks!

        Cristina

        1. That’s interesting Cristina, that you mention the teacher-librarian as a support for students with the tech piece. I’m noticing a bit of a trend with teachers taking on different roles from what we are used to, as we begin to approach technology from different lenses. Teacher roles are shifting from experts to life-coaches it seems, and it is not always limited to classroom teachers, as we so often assume.

  2. The role that technology should play in the educational experiences of younger children was a common theme with my interview. I have encountered a wide range of beliefs in my school, many either for or against. The idea brought up in the interview regarding the benefits of blending physical and digital experiences with young students seems to be gaining traction. I am just beginning to integrate some of the many coding, robots, circuitry, etc. STEM tools for kids, that facilitate these types of experiences.

Leave a Reply to cristina leo Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published.