As the course, Reaching and Engaging All Learners through Technology draws to an end, I am amazed at all the tools and resources I acquired. I learned about the principles of Universal Design for Learning and Differentiated Instruction, and already am implementing them in my curriculum. With the amount of diversity in the classroom continually increasing, I need to have the tools to give every student the chance to succeed. UDL/DI along with integrating technology gives me the best chance to help all my students reach their potential.
The best way to meet the needs of all my students is to get to know them as individuals. I need to learn the strengths and weaknesses of every student, hobbies, interests, learning preferences, multiple intelligences, and readiness levels. Luckily, there are countless inventories and surveys on the Internet available that make getting to know all my students possible. The information from the surveys and inventories allows for effective lesson planning. I can create lessons, assignment, activities, and projects that are geared to my students’ abilities and preferences. It also allows students choices to complete assignments. Students can work together in groups, pairs, or individuals. They are also given choices of how to create artifacts that demonstrate their learning. This year, my students have created podcasts, used IPod touches, wikis, essays, and digital comic strips. I also plan on using VoiceThreads, digital stories, Power Points, and many other web 2.0 tools that fit their abilities. UDL/DI does not mean a separate lesson for each student. Next year, I will begin my year with surveys and interest profiles and use my student’s choices to plan curriculum from the start. This principle will probably guide my lesson planning for many years to come.
This course has also shown me some ways to use incorporate technology into the classroom. We used SurveyMonkey, VoiceThreads, Google Chat, and Google Groups and they all could fit into my curriculum. In order to get to know my students, I could use SurveyMonkey. It is easy to customize and it would help me to differentiate instruction when lesson planning. VoiceThreads, Google Chat, and Google Groups could all be used for student collaboration. Students could easily work together on projects and even work outside of school. The social networking portion of the class also gave me many resources, ideas, and taught me how to use a group chat to collaborate with my colleague. Although I may never be able to use this feature because it is blocked by our filter at my school, it is a feature that could be very useful in education.
Finally, the resources and knowledge I have learned in this course has given me the opportunity to individualize instruction so all students can succeed. The application of this will allow me to become a better teacher and my students will be the beneficiaries.