Technology Can Help You Close Gaps in the Classroom...Really!

August 31, 2017

We are teaching grade level standards but also trying to find the time to support struggling students who are below grade level in some key skills. How can we do both?

This is the question so many teachers ask themselves.

Lesson planning is complicated enough. It includes differentiation per unit for my grouped students, but my problems are a little bigger now.

I have all this data telling me specific skills my students need to work on. Unfortunately, they need to work on a wide variety of things, at different grade levels.

How can technology make that more feasible?

One way is by helping you make students’ assessment data actionable. Data has come a long way! You have reports that show you exactly what skills your students are great at, and the ones that need a little more work. Now what?

Instructional technology programs like Classworks automate the process of getting every student what they need to move forward. Especially those important skills they need that aren’t part of this year’s curriculum.

My students also have this individualized learning plan. I love that they are getting exactly what they need! But, where does that fit into our day?

  1. Schedule time for students to work independently each week on instruction designed to strengthen their specific skill gaps.

      Try:

  • Rotation stations during class time that include students working on their individualized assignments.
  • Make the school/home connection: Instructional technology enables students to work on these individualized lessons at home, before and after school, and during the summer.
  1. Incorporate ways to help students stay on task when they work independently.
  • Use student dashboards, digital badges, and incentives like Classworks My Scores! dashboard to monitor their success.
  • Set goals with your students and giving them ownership over tracking their progress.
  • Work with them to adjust lessons based on student interest, need, and performance. This helps create a learning environment where the teacher, student, and technology work as a team.
  1. Conference.

       During our professional development sessions this year, conferencing was a hot topic. When, how often, how long?

  • Build in weekly or bi-weekly scheduled conference times to talk with students about their data (only a few minutes long). Other students may be in small groups or centers while you do this.
  • During the conference, look at how the student scored on their digital lessons. Launch some of their digital lessons to discuss successes and improvements.
  • Ask them if the scores are reflective of what they are learning. What would they like to do differently? How could they improve? Should they move onto more challenging instruction or move back to review skills? Ideas from a teacher!
  • Set goals for the student to achieve before the next conference! Agreeing on next steps will heighten student engagement for a truly collaborative learning environment.

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