These are the two differentiation tools any teacher can use in their classroom!
“I feel so smart!”
Students were excited as they were logging into their computers to start on their assignments. The students were not aware that the assignments were tailored for each of their needs. One of the pitfalls of differentiation is the looming questions teachers have to hear in their classrooms. “Why is their assignment different from my assignment?”
There are two great online tools I am using in my classroom that have transformed my teaching practice and allowed me to reinvent my differentiation practices. It is important to note that my school is not a 1:1 school. I have been using these strategies on desktops and tablets that have been donated to my classroom. The best part is both of these websites are free! They also do not require students to have an email address, which can be troublesome for students under 13.
Edmodo is a platform that encourages collaboration and communication for students. Teachers can post assignments, discussion questions, and videos to the website. One of the features that is frequently used in my classroom is grouping. Edmodo allows you to break your classroom into groups based on your needs for the assignment. This has allowed me to post different assignments for different groups without the students being aware. Teachers can also give differentiated exams by using the Edmodo quiz tool. You can then assign the exams based on the grouping.
EdPuzzle has also been a game changer in my ESL classroom. This website allows you to make any video a part of your lesson. EdPuzzle also allows you to directly assign videos to your students. A teacher can take any YouTube video, upload voice-overs, and ask text-dependent questions. One of my favorite features of EdPuzzle is students cannot skip ahead to the end of the video. A differentiating strategy that I have been using consistently is leveled text. First, I record myself reading the leveled text. This usually is me recording my screen while I am reading the text. Next, I upload the video of my screen recording to EdPuzzle. Then, I add a voice over to the text-dependent questions about the leveled text. Last, assign the text based on the students Lexile level. The students know they are reading the same text, however, they do not know that their neighbor's text is leveled. Since using this tool I have not heard the dreaded question from students.
These online applications have opened a new door for my students. I have heard a few talking to their friends and said they feel as if they are in college. If you have any questions or would like to share ideas, please comment below.
About the Author – Millicent Williams
For the last five years, Millicent Williams has been teaching 6-8th-grade newcomers and intermediate ELLs. In that time she has assisted with writing a newcomer curriculum and piloting a newcomer program. She is currently teaching intermediate ELLs and coaching ESL teachers across the district. Her passion is advocating for ELLs to have access to a rigorous curriculum.
When not teaching and peer coaching, Millicent loves a good binge watch. Her favorite shows are Riverdale (who doesn’t love a dramatic teen drama?), Queen Sugar, and Wendy Williams (“How you doing?!). She is obsessed with candles and is a planner and crafter who lives in the craft store.