Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Technology as a Differentiated Instruction Tool

Academic journal article The Agricultural Education Magazine

Technology as a Differentiated Instruction Tool

Article excerpt

Within the classroom, there are a myriad of learners and styles of learning present. Differentiated instruction (DI) is a teacher's acknowledgement there are many avenues for learning and sense making (Scalise, 2007). The value-added approach of DI is essential to the teacher's arsenal for successful learning outcomes. Tomlinson condensed DI into the auricular elements of content, process and product (2001). Students must have experiences with different types and formats of content, different methods for content acquisition, and they must be able to demonstrate their learning through different types of assignments and assessments. By varying the approach taken to instruct, guide and assess, teachers increase the likelihood of reaching every student.

The idea of differentiating the learning environment is at the foundation of DI. Teachers must do all they can to communicate effectively with students and provide them a platform to reciprocate. Students comprising the Millennial generation are considered to be digital natives, exhibiting an intuitive approach to digital interaction (Haynes, 2010). When technology is excluded from the curriculum, teachers fail to address this major avenue for student learning. This means the platform for communicating about new information must include the language in which students feel most comfortable; in this case, the language of technology.

Most teachers do not fall into the Millennial generation and find technology difficult to infuse into their teaching (Murphrey, Miller, & Roberts, 2009). However, inclusion of technology need not be an all or nothing approach. Integration should occur gradually, be connected with content standards, find its way into students' hands, and maintain a high level of rigor and relevance (Rubenstein, 2010). The following tools provide opportunities for teachers to work more productively with digital natives. They also let digital natives more adequately show what they know in a formative and summative capacity. Read through the descriptions while bringing up the online addresses to experience the tools. Then brainstorm ways in which each techie tool can enrich the curricula.

Techie Tools

Glogster (edu.glogster.com) There are many poster design activities included in the lessons for a typical course. Each time the activity is used, there are a number of materials teachers must compile and track. Glogster is a free, online tool for students to design posters in a multimedia format. For example, perhaps the lesson is on oxyfuel welding. The student may wish to create a poster by adding graphics illustrating the different flames the operator must be able to identify to ensure quality penetration. As there are safety considerations, students may also include audio clips of the sounds indicating when hazards like popping or hissing should be of particular concern. Dynamic features like these pique the interest of more students and cannot be accomplished in the traditional poster format.

Animoto (animoto.com) - Video is a powerful communication medium. However, creating quality videos within a single class period can be a nearly impossible task due to the level of detail work associated. Despite the challenge, video generation should not be shied away from as a form of classroom instruction and assessment. Animoto will convert photographs, text and video clips into a stylized, engaging cinematic feature set to music with unique transitions. Should state agricultural commodities be the topic at hand, students can gather images to quickly tell the story of that crop from field to table. Students can create 30 second videos for free, or schools can purchase full access for a low monthly rate.

Flip Video Cameras (http:// www.theflip.com/en-us/) - Flip cameras are great sense making tools for permitting students to demonstrate their understanding of a concept. Once students settle on a topic, they can storyboard ideas for arranging the details in a sensible order then set out to capture the necessary footage. …

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