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Teaching with Mobile Tech
May 14, 2015 | Volume 10 | Issue 17
Table of Contents
Differentiating Instruction Using Mobile Technology Tools
Kristina J. Doubet and Eric M. Carbaugh
Whether used at home or at school, mobile technology provides teachers with multiple avenues to proactively respond to student needs. When using these resources to differentiate instruction, however, educators should pay particular attention to the quality of the learning experiences these technological tools provide. In other words, technology is only a tool. In the same way artisans choose appropriate tools to create well-crafted furniture, tapestry, or cuisine, teachers can use technology tools to develop well-crafted learning experiences by building classroom community, implementing formative assessment, and designing responsive instruction.
To successfully differentiate instruction using mobile technology, teachers must take active steps to foster a community of trust in both online and face-to-face environments. Teachers should try to
The goal is to ensure that no matter who students work with or how they interact, they know that they are "in it together" with both their classmates and their teacher; the entire classroom is moving toward the same goal, albeit via different pathways at times.
Ongoing Formative Assessment
Although cultivating a healthy community of learners is an important first step in implementing mobile classroom technology, teachers cannot completely understand their students as learners without using formative assessment. Mobile technology provides tools for infusing frequent informal checks into the learning process, enabling teachers to
Teachers who take advantage of these opportunities to monitor student progress won't be swayed to believe their students are learning simply because they are engaged with mobile devices.
Proactive, Responsive Instruction
Once teachers have collected this important assessment information, they can use the additional flexibility that mobile technology provides to adjust instruction to meet diverse learners' needs. This is the defining practice of differentiation; teachers who differentiate are characterized by their commitment to "provide specific alternatives for individuals to learn as deeply as possible and as quickly as possible, without assuming one student's road map for learning is identical to anyone else's" (Tomlinson, 2014, p.4). Some specific suggestions for differentiation include
These adjustments need not occur every moment of every class period; rather, they should be used at "hinge points" in the learning process (e.g., "We can't move on until we get this!"), when assessment data demonstrates the need to vary instruction or when student motivation is flagging and teachers need to reharness interest.
Providing students with technology tools does not automatically lead to student learning. Mobile technology becomes useful when teachers use it to proactively tailor learning experiences to meet the needs of all students. By capitalizing on the flexibility of mobile devices, teachers can help students with varying needs progress in their learning while engaging and challenging the classroom as a whole.
Dweck, C. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York: Random House.
Hattie, J., & Yates, G. (2014). Visible learning and the science of how we learn. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2014). The Differentiated Classroom (2nd Edition). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Eric M. Carbaugh and Kristina Doubet are both members of ASCD's Differentiated Instruction Cadre and associate professors of middle and secondary education at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Va.
ASCD Express, Vol. 10, No. 17. Copyright 2015 by ASCD. All rights reserved. Visit www.ascd.org/ascdexpress.
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