Reflection – Reaching and Engaging Learners Through Technology

Differentiation? I asked my students the other day if they had heard of the term and all but one had not. After learning so much about purposeful communication with students and their need for understanding the “why” of instruction and learning, I feel surprised at the students’ replies to the question. With the query in mind, I wonder how much differentiation (and communication of instructional purpose) is actually done in the classroom. Nevertheless, it is my responsibility to learn to differentiate respectfully for all my learners, and in analyzing what I have learned during EDUC- 6714, learning that differentiation of any kind need not be a “hassle” has already begun to change my classroom. The “what” and why of differentiation and technology I have read and processed, but the most enlightening bit of information I have gleaned from my studies comes from Tomlinson. Throughout this course and others the “how” of differentiation implementation was not clear to me. In “How Do Teachers Make It All Work?” (1999), Tomlinson sheds light on intelligent and non-stressful ways to “get-started” and encourages “start[ing] small” (1999, p. 96). I have already adjusted the use of resources to include a choice of the Internet for student tasks such as finding definitions and synonyms, and creating graphic organizers, which the students are receptive to. The concept of teaching the class to work quietly on “anchor activities” and then transitioning to separate activities in the same quiet atmosphere is a phenomenal revelation to me after struggling with a somewhat “backwards” approach and encountering a bit of chaos. “Grow[ing] slowly” (1999, p. 97) also allows perspective in terms of differentiation and technology integration. I will continue to add gradually to my repertoire as my comfort and students’ comfort levels increase. A final bit of comfort came with the article “Learning to Love Assessment” (also Tomlinson’s, 2008) where I discovered that I am not alone in giving assessment less than its due. Tomlinson’s words so deeply correspond to my own feelings that I look forward to a new semester to amalgamate my relaxed position towards differentiation, differentiation with technology, and assessment. I am looking forward to a new beginning as a teacher, professional, and person.

References
Tomlinson, C. A. (1999). Differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners. Alexandria, VA: Association for Supervision & Curriculum Development.
Retrieved from the Walden Library ebrary. Tomlinson, C. A. (2008). Learning to love assessment. Educational Leadership, 65(4), 8–13. Retrieved from Academic Search Premier Database.

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