Today’s most successful learning outcomes arise from environments rich in differentiated instruction. Exceptional educators employ research-backed teaching strategies to make every effort to reach students of diverse learning styles and backgrounds. And if the positive data are any indication, tomorrow’s classrooms will increasingly incorporate differentiation. But in some ways, differentiation is a catch-all term for various strategies. The intricacies of individualized differentiation are evidence of just how diverse learning strategies have become, and with digital supports, it’s only getting better. How can educators become well-equipped for implementing individualized differentiation strategies in the classroom, whether in-person, virtual or blended? How is a digital toolkit different from traditional paper-based resources? We’ll explore these topics and more.
The Benefits of Digital Curriculum Supplements
Prior to the era of 1:1 devices in the classroom, individual differentiation meant excess planning and prep. The single greatest benefit of the EdTech revolution is the ability to have a rich, aligned library of materials just a click away at all times. With individualized differentiation via digital platforms, teachers are no longer burdened with procuring resources. This frees up time for more one-on-one facilitation and classroom management.
Unfortunately, not all digital supplements are equally accessible. Many offerings are kept behind paywalls and passwords, and these accessibility obstacles have the power to make or break the willingness of students to give it a try. Licensed turnkey resources like Boardworks remove barriers to access so that students and teachers can focus on what matters. Boardworks allows teachers to push relevant content to individuals in remediation, to students ready to work ahead, and those progressing on-level.
Differentiation pioneer Carol Ann Tomlinson brought as much change to the world of education as any one individual can. She shook the status quo in the 1990s and 2000s by providing research-based instructional strategies that help teachers teach with the individual in mind. Tomlinson believes that the diversity of differentiation can be boiled down to three student needs: student readiness, student interest, and student learning profile. Learning profile refers to preferred modes of learning. Tomlinson says that teachers can differentiate instruction through four ways: 1) content, 2) process, 3) product, and 4) learning environment. Here are a few popular differentiation strategies that empower individuals to flourish academically:
- Choice board: It’s amazing how much more positive students are when presented with choices. Students have a greater sense of ownership and control of their own learning when they get to choose a path forward that best suits them.
- Reflection and Goal-Setting: Taking ownership of learning helps with motivation, especially during difficult units. Provide a way for students to reflect on what they’ve learned, what they struggle with, and goals they have moving forward.
- Teach Up: Differentiation expert Carol Ann Tomlinson says that it’s just as important to reach higher-level learners as it is to reach struggling students. All students deserve to leave the classroom having learned something new. Include opportunities for growth in each lesson.
- Relate the Content: Show relevance to life outside the classroom. This is especially important for students who might not be inclined to give it their all without that extra push.
- Manipulatives: A hands-on approach to learning is shown to be a preferred method of acquiring and applying new knowledge and skills. In fact, a survey found that 52% of students prefer to learn with manipulatives.
In special education settings, individualized instruction is more of a necessity than an option. This is where the magic of digitally differentiated resources really shines. There’s nothing quite like instructional materials with built-in differentiation tools for all learning levels.
Boardworks Makes Differentiation Natural and Effortless
In addition to a library of original, interactive tools that empower individualized learning, Boardworks curriculum supports provide consistency across content and grade levels. For students who respond to the extra support of differentiated learning, consistency has the power to transform their learning experience. Unfortunately, many classrooms rely on a lot of mixed and matched curriculum content cobbled together from online marketplaces, copied textbooks and more. With Boardworks, there’s no need to look elsewhere for interactivity and enrichment. Teachers can easily add interactive learning activities to any lesson without ever leaving the lesson. Customization is central to what Boardworks offers.
Our case studies feature real schools transforming learning with our turnkey library of resources. It’s amazing what a digital platform that ties together standards-aligned instruction, differentiation and interactivity can do to refresh learning for students and educators alike.
Schedule a demo today to experience firsthand how Boardworks takes differentiation to the next level.