Welcome to a series that supports the use of technology in support of differentiated learning in and beyond the PBL classroom. Before reading, please take a moment to subscribe by email or RSS and also give me a follow on Twitter at mjgormans. I promise you will find some great information coming your way in the posts that follow…So Sign up now and please pass this on with a retweet. – Mike Gorman (https://21centuryedtech.wordpress.com/)
Part 1: Tech Resources and Tools for Differentiated Learning … Reading
I was recently asked to provide a workshop that supported Differentiated Learning through the use of educational technology in the Project Based learning Classroom (PBL). I needed to reflect on what this really meant before going any further. As I explored the idea of technology, PBL, and the differentiated classroom I needed find some common connections and categories. I came up with several categories I thought tools might come fit under. This included reading and instruction as it connects to content, research in relationship to inquiry, and student production and how it integrates with voice and choice. There are other areas that also come to mind including student grouping, assessment, and interest. For this series, and the emphasis on technology integration, I thought I might focus on the first four categories mentioned. I really do hope you find it helpful and please let me know of additions you might have. For this first post in the series I will focus on the idea of leveled reading. Enjoy the journey and as always please feel free to connect with ideas you might have!
One area of important consideration in the PBL..or any classroom, involves providing reading material for students that they can successfully read and understand. This can be increasingly difficult as students progress through the grade levels. While there are instructional and management techniques a teacher should use when providing reading at different levels in the classroom, that is not the emphasis of this post. What I am attempting to do is provide the tools and resources for these readings. Once these are found, it is important to follow best practices put forth by the district or school literacy coordinator regarding implementation. I am providing five of my favorite reading resources that provide multiple reading levels for the same text in this post. Many of these contain current events and news. Keep in mind that events that happened in the past… may be current to your content standards today. In my next post you will discover even more. I have also provided some wonderful links that will allow you to learn more about differentiated learning blended with technology, and of course ….PBL.
- Breaking News – Are you looking for a site filled with great news articles? Discover this wonderful resource that allows you to assign a reading that provides same content at different reading levels. It is free and filled with ready-to-use EFL / ESL lesson plans on the latest breaking news -in 7 levels. New lessons are uploaded to the site every 2 days. Best of all, each lesson includes a 26-page PDF containing all-skills activities, a 2-page mini-lesson, 5-speed listening, multi-speed scrolled reading, interactive dictation, 30+ online quizzes… and more.
- Newsela – This is another amazing site that makes it easy for an entire class to read the same content, but at a level that’s just right for each student. Students can read current events at a level they understand. Keep in mind that a teacher can even find an older article that matches curricular content standards. Imagine allowing an entire class to read and discuss the same content. You will find this is a resource that really will kindle insatiable curiosity in young minds, while equipping students with the skills they need to succeed. Also, check out Newsela for Elementary and note there is a also a comparison of a free and paid version. Newsela will require educators to create a free account. You will find that a short visit will open up a whole new level of learning for your classroom.
- Common Lit – It is the mission of Common Lit to provide a collection of high quality, free instructional materials to support literacy development for students in grades five through twelve. You will find this site filled with leveled fiction and nonfiction articles that are flexible, research based, and aligned to standards. The resources are created for teachers, by teachers. The site has won awards from IMA, Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Teach For America. This Research Report will provide you with even more information on this wonderful program. Take a moment to visit the site, select a theme that aligns with content being studied, find a question, and determine the text you wish to use.
- Tribune by Smithsonian – What a powerful educational resources for all levels. Click on the appropriate grade level ban at the top and you will find a wide range of education content that is leveled for reading from the Smithsonian. You will be joining more than 200,000 registered teachers who are already putting these free Smithsonian Teacher resources to use in their classrooms. You will find that the site contains twice-daily AP news articles, Lexile® levels for K-12, self-scoring quizzes customized by Lexile® level, critical thinking questions, student commenting, Espanol AP articles, weekly lesson plans, weekly video, and even a weekend “Monday Morning Ready” newsletter as prep for the week ahead
- Rewordify_ – I have saved this amazing site for the grand finale of this post. It really is a tool you will wish to visit time and time again! Imagine a resources that allows teachers to create leveled reading from any text they find for their class. How about even the text in a website? This is a program that really does allow for whole class differentiation. Rewordify is best described as a resource that simplifies difficult English. Enter hard sentences, whole chapters, or even a website URL into this powerful resource tool. Next, click on “Rewordify Text” and the teacher or student will instantly see an easier version… allowing for fast understanding. The reworded text is even highlighted, allowing students to click the new word to hear and learn the original harder word. One can even change how the highlighting works in order to match the way one learns! There are even more functions within Rewordify that teachers will discover allowing for increased student understanding of a given text. This is a must have tool for those educators trying to bring differentiated instruction into their classroom.
Readings – Explore these articles that I found through extensive research while reflecting on differentiated instruction in the classroom. You will find ideas from some amazing authors and organizations. Please take a moment to enjoy these articles filled with even more possibilities!
- When High School Students Struggle With Textbook Reading … Shelia Valencia (Edutopia)
How to Change the World: Service PBL in the Common Core Literacy Classroom … Amy Conley (Edutopia)
- Supporting Literacy in PBL … (High Tech Network)
cross-posted at 21centuryedtech.wordpress.com
Michael Gorman oversees one-to-one laptop programs and digital professional development for Southwest Allen County Schools near Fort Wayne, Indiana. He is a consultant for Discovery Education, ISTE, My Big Campus, and November Learning and is on the National Faculty for The Buck Institute for Education. His awards include district Teacher of the Year, Indiana STEM Educator of the Year and Microsoft’s 365 Global Education Hero. Read more at 21centuryedtech.wordpress.com.