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Is it rational to apply the same traditional methods in teaching all the time? No, not at all. We should keep this in mind:
''In the ways and to the extent that students are similar, their education should be similar. In the ways and to the extent that students are different, their education should be different.''
Dr. Lannie Kanevsky
That is, each student comes from a diverse background. They all have different personality and prior knowledge base which have leading roles in students' development of learning and constructing meaning (Anderson & Pearson, 1984). Therefore, while formulating the lesson plan, we should consider the students' prior knowledge as well as their language and cultural background, interests and multiple intelligences. We should select materials and teaching methods to meet the needs of these students. To achieve this, I suggest Differentiated Learning. What does it mean to differentiate learning?
It refers to creating multiple teaching methods as distinct from traditional ways in order to address students with different intelligences, interests and learning needs. Needless to say that it is an extremely important tool for encouraging students to actively engaged in their learning. Differentiated learning generally occurs when technology is integrated in classroom activities. The primary step is, of course, presenting various learning activities or strategies to provide appropriate methods for students to explore the meaning and concept of the main subject. It is important to give students alternative paths to manipulate the ideas embedded within the concept. Statistically speaking, many students like using visual aids such as pictures, charts or graphics to illustrate their ideas on the subject. Therefore, we should provide them the opportunity to express themselves more effectively. In this way, we can also allow students to take responsibility of their own learning, and make way for collaborative learning. For instance, internet generate great facilities for differentiated learning. I'd like to give specific examples of some Web tools to be considered.
One of them is MOODLE. What are the advantages of Moodle? First of all, it is based on constructivist theory which basically suggests that people generate knowledge and meaning using their own experiences and ideas. Moodle also promotes social interaction and collaborative learning among students. It has a sequenced design including; class schedule, assignments, participant profiles, glossaries, wikis, quizzes, questionaries, resources and exams, which help students work both collaboratively and individually. Forums are also useful, where students have a chance to brainstorm their ideas, make discussions on them and learn from others. Another advantage of moodle is that students are consistently monitored by the teacher, and they receive immediate feedback for their works.
Another web tool is WIKI spaces. It is very like Moodle. Students are able to enhance their communication skills. They can also make changes on the pages of their friends to add or share some ideas if an Access is given. For teachers, it is a great way to assign projects, individual or group Works on a Wiki. They can see the recent changes of students, and assess their performances accordingly.
Wequests are also very useful. Students who are using webquests can develop their critical thinking, and research skills. They learn how to prepare a detailed presentation or guides using technological tools. Plus, they can see others' webquests to get information about multifurious topics, or to find various resources for their own projects. They also develop creativity, because they are designing a website in a sense.
As you see, technology provide great facilities for both teachers and students. Here are the most explicit advantages of using technology for differentiated learning:
Technology for Differentiated Learningâ€¦
Encourages modification of instruction to address learner variables of students, and to meet their individual needs.
Focuses on student participation through various activities such as Webquests.
Promotes a challenging environment, but it is still comfortable. Students do not get frustrated while working with computers. The way of presentating the topics may increase students' motivation to participate in the lesson.
Ä°ncludes both traditional and non-traditional assessment methods such as teacher observation, assessment rubrics for self-evaluation or group projects
Helps teachers learn more about their students through analyzing their blogs or wiki pages, and they have a chance to modify the instructions according to students' interests and needs.
is student-centered. Students create their own learning by building on their prior knowledge.
Learning is most effective when the topics are related to students' own interests, which encourages them actively engaged in learning.
Becomes very effective when its integrated with the curriculum.
Helps students advance their interpersonal skills.
provides an environment where students can find and use relevant resources to strengthen their ideas. Afterwards, they can use these sources for their future education, such as university. They will get prepared for the university education, because they will have to do lots of research to complete an assignment at a university. More importantly, they will learn the rules for using sources properly. They will learn how to give citations to their references, not to make plagiarism.
In a nutshell, through differentiated learning with the help of technology, students will gain lots of skills such as problem-solving, risk-taking, planning and organizing their Works, analyzing and using the authentic materials effectively. Therefore, we, as teachers, should offer students with specific needs a chance to discover their weaknesses and strengths to improve their learning by using the appropriate devices according to their skills and interests.