I’m a fan of differentiation in the classroom, although I’ve been finding it difficult to employ sound methods in a private boarding secondary school. Expectations for what classrooms are and what happens in a classroom are so ingrained in the institution that it’s hard to shift away.
One of the biggest questions I haven’t yet resolved is about assessment of learning (summative). How do you grade students engaged in differentiated learning when the point is they travel at their own pace and will likely experience different learning trajectories?
“At Forest Lake Elementary School, in Columbia, South Carolina, the student population grows more diverse by the day. Income levels, ethnicities, family structures, first languages, interests, and abilities now vary so much, that a traditional teaching approach, with a uniform lesson targeted to the average-level student, just doesn’t cut it. (Sound familiar to you educators out there?)
To challenge and support each child at his or her own level, the Forest Lake teachers and staff are deploying a powerful array of widely available digital-technology tools. Each classroom is equipped with an interactive whiteboard and a Tech Zone of eight Internet-enabled computers. Plus, teachers have access to gadgets including digital cameras, Flip cameras, remote-response clickers, and PDAs.
More important than the gadgets themselves, of course, is how the teachers use them to create personalized lessons and a productive environment where each child is engaged. Here are Forest Lake teachers’ top tips on how to do it.”
Colleges are like qwerty keyboards. They’re relics of educational design that might have already passed us by, just as qwerty keyboards are relics of their mechanical typewriter counterparts. They’re here to stay until someone designs a revolutionary alternative to make them obsolete.