I had a blog all in my head and ready to go then I read the article The Case for Cultivating Cultural Awareness. As I was reading through in so many ways the first part was reading my life history and then my goals as a teacher. The article has the question, “How can we involve our students in authentic and connected learning experiences that will encourage collaboration with classmates, among grade levels, and with students from all over the world?”(Hilt, 2011) So how can we do this without ensuring we meet the needs of all types of diverse learners?
When many think of the world “Diversity” cultural diversity is what comes to mind, however we all are diverse in many different way beyond our culture. As we go into our classrooms each day, we must understand our students do not come out of the same cookie cutter and we must be aware of this. Our students in many cases are different socio-economically, have different learning styles, levels of learning and disabilities.
The use of technology in our classrooms can address and help these diversities n many ways. Teaching 7th grade social studies in Georgia our curriculum is world studies including Southwest Asia, Africa and Southern and East Asia, I spend my day teaching how the world is different. I able to share my experiences of 20 years in travel business, along with the students I have each day from 30 different countries. I tell the students the world is a whole lot smaller than it was when I was their age. But share these differences with them is so much easier with technology. Pictures are great but the use of videos and tools such as Google Earth makes it so much easier. Global collaboration is where we want to be students Skyping with students from places they are learning about or taking virtual field trips make students. One of my classes is creating a blog, while others are developing Weebly sites on the Israeli Palestine Conflict. We hope to share these sites with students across the globe to allow this type of collaboration and discussion.
I am strong believer in students understanding the different learning styles. I have my students complete multiple learning styles assessment at the beginning of the year. I then keep track of their topic two from groupings later. I am able to use technology to meet the needs of these learning styles. I have created different assignments for the learners and assigned to the students through Edmodo. I also use Discovery Education a lot to meet the needs of my visual learners. I could even stretch this out with my musical, kinesthetic and visual learners by playing the video of the dance “The Hustle” and we do the dance to learn cardinal direction. Along with using technology to deliver content using various means of technology, I allow my students to have a choice in their output of products to me. Our students have different levels of interest, understanding and capabilities in the use of technology. My expectations of them should be the same.
Along with different learning styles students today are at many different levels of learning in one classroom. Technology can provide a means to bring everyone on the same playing field. This could be as simple as providing real aloud function on a worksheet using computer software or enlarging the text font. These same technologies can be used with your ELL learners, being able to have material read out loud to students while they are reading a lot builds their reading comprehension. There are many writing tools readily available to assist students prompting and guiding students in the writing process. A student who struggles with solving math equations could have access to numerous videos and how to’s at their finger tips.
The power of technology in role of meeting the needs of diverse learners is clearly stated by Grace and Throne (2009):
“Technology facilitates modification of instruction in several areas to meet the needs of diverse students by making changes to subject matter (content), channels of throughput (process), means of output (product), and the learning environment. As a great motivator, technology has a powerful influence on our students’ affect levels.”
Once we allow technology to facilitate learning to meet the needs of our learner, Oh !! The doors it will open to the world we live in and allow authentic and connected learning experiences.
Hilt, L. (0). Retrieved from http://plpnetwork.com/2011/10/26/the-case-for-cultivating-cultural-awareness/
Smith , G., & Throne , S. (2009). Differentiating instruction with technology in middle school classrooms. ISTE.
Christa Evans Heath