Differentiation through the Power of Technology

Power of TechnologyI see, I listen, I write, I do... I learn.

Differentiation is about many ways of experiencing and understanding. For instance, combine a document camera, currency from around the world, and Google Images for an engaging Google Game!

Teachers have superpowers! They know what to works in the classroom. However, teachers and students sometimes need more power. The power of technology and the power of differentiation. The power to use all resources and tools effectively to reach each student.

Let's explore five powers that teachers need to differentiation with technology:

Let's start with an example. What's the United Kingdom? I could have you read a book on paper ore on a Kindle, read a Wikipedia article, examine a diagram, or watch a video. Each element could help you understand. What do you prefer? What would students prefer? Which could be used to introduce or reinforce?


Use the power of technology to differentiate by organizing resources in meaningful ways to meet learner needs and interests.

Students can easily become overwhelmed and distracted when working online. Looks for ways to meet individual needs by directing attention to specific resources, providing choices, and organizing assignments in an easy-to-access space. Use tools like Microsoft Word that you already feel comfortable with to create these virtual spaces.

Technology allows students with 24/7 access to class materials. For instance, students can download and review PowerPoint presentations for a French class on the class wikispace. Wikis are easy to update and maintain. Mr. Chase uses this wikispace to organize class readings, assignments, and projects.

When designing a differentiated lesson, look for resources that provide alternative ways to present information. For instance, an infographic is a visual representation of information providing the "big picture" of a topic that might otherwise be difficult to understanding. Graphics are used to quickly convey the main idea along with supporting details like the TheGlobalWarming infographic that includes graphics and diagrams.

Ask students to look at the history of slavery in a different way using 389yearsago or examine Burning Fuel as a visual analogy.

Let's say students are going to examine the way information is organized on an infographic. If you let students search on Google, they'll enjoy the exploration, but it may not be the best use of their time. Teach students to search for specific types of information in specific formats such as climate change infographic and you'll find an interesting comparison of global warming skeptics vs scientific consensus. However, the activity may be more effective if you pre-select resources focused on a content area such as A Visual History of the American Presidency or Unlocking the Mystery of the Humpback Whale. Otherwise you'll find a group of students checking out Beer Pong.

Provide students with choices. Some might be interested in fitness while others might prefer to learn about disasters or the psychology of color. Create a student guide using Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

Content curation is the idea of providing organized access to information.

Pinterest is an online social pinboard. It allows users to easily organize links and visuals for easy access. Let's say you want to do an activity asking students to analyze the math they find in an infographic. Go to the Reading Rockets Infographic Pinterest. You don't need to log-in to view the pages.

These pages are easy to create. You join Pinterest. Find a image such as an infographic that compares the sinking of the Titanic with the Costa Concordia and copy the URL of the picture. It should end in JPG, PNG, or GIF. Click the ADD button. Paste the URL and create or choose a category. Click Pin It and it appears on your page. The infographic is in Portuguese. See if students can still interpret the information.

Seek tools that organize resources, but are flexible enough to update easily.

Differentiate through technology with many levels of depth, varied readings, and choices in resources.


Use the power of technology to differentiate by reaching multiple learner senses through multimedia experiences.

One of the big benefits of technology is the ability to reach young people through varied channels of communication.

Connect history with music through music videos from History for Music Lovers with songs like Renaissance Man or French Revolution. Make your own!

If you're not into history, you can still find the classics like Conjunction Junction from School House Rock.

Keep in mind that you can use tools such as KeepVid to download video clips.

Use tools like Visuwords and Lexipedia as an alternative to traditional print thesaurus.

Teacher's Domain provides a wide range of lessons that incorporate audio, video, animation, and interactives across the curriculum.

The Inspiring Middle School Literacy project provides dozens of self-paced lessons designed to enhance the literacy skills of struggling readers in grades 5-8.

Besides your own textbook series, also consider the materials provided by other companies. Their interactive materials are often available online for free. For instance, check out the Harcourt School Science Up Close resources on Magnets and Compasses. Glencoe has resources for the high school level such as Time Tips for writing, the History of Theatre timeline, and Professional Interviews related to theatre. While some are available to everyone others require password access, look for those that are freely available.

If you're looking for a specific topic, try doing a Google Search and add the word "interactive" such as rock cycle interactive. You'll find interactives from Learner.org including rock cycle.

Build transmedia experiences where readers seamlessly move from technology to technology experiencing and participating in the story. True Spirit by Jessica Watson is a book that contains these different elements including text, images, maps, and video.

Differentiate through technology with multiple modes of communication including text, graphics, audio, video, and tactile.


Use the power of technology to differentiate by extending the choices and tools for communication.

Add power to brainstorming topics through the use of technology. AnswerGarden is a fun way to collect ideas. You post a question or statement to complete such as The circulatory system is like...? and students provide analogies. They can then use the ideas in their writing assignment.

Google Moderator is a new tool that lets students post questions, create replies, vote.

Wallwisher is one of many online tools where you can post a question, link, or resource and students can respond. For instance, after listening to a story at Storyline, students write about a character.

Add power to "exit card" type activities through the use of Google Forms at Google Docs. You can do process checks on forms then group the needs of students. Or, you could ask for student reading activity preferences.

Differentiate through technology with activities that honor preferences, choices, and flexibility.


Use the power of technology to differentiate by providing a variety of options for sharing student understandings.

Seek easy tools that can be used for many different types of assignments such as Arthur Cartoon Creator.

Storytelling tools such as Storybirds provide a variety of tools for writing stories. Check out some third grade Storybird stories.

Connect products to geographic locations using Google Maps. For instance, the Novels on Location project could inspire your own novel location project.

Promote audio projects using existing tools like PowerPoint, but also online tools like Voki. Explore elementary Voki projects.

Differentiate through technology with child-centered, open-ended approaches to demonstrating understandings.


Use the power of technology to differentiate by promoting a passion for learning.

Virtual manipulatives provide students with a unique way to practice and communicate understandings. Exploriments are simulation-based interactives that enhance conceptual understanding of science and math. Students explore and experiment with concepts. For instance, the equations interactive provides an introduction to Algebraic Equations using a pan balance and assorted objects.

Make real-world connections that students find interesting and motivating. Get the Math is a multimedia project about algebra in the real world focusing on math in music, fashion, and video games.

Help our students find the power of of learning. Use all the resources and tools available. Don't toss the markers because you have computers. Technology won't solve all your problems. It simply extends your powers by providing options and opportunities. Explore the power of possibilities.

Differentiate through technology with attention to affective aspects and the importance of life-long learning.

| eduscapes | IUPUI Online Courses | Activate | 42explore | About Us | Contact Us | © 2012 Annette Lamb