The use of edtech software to radically improve and scale the building of individual learner profiles using evidence-based data, was facilitated by the internet. Beginning in 2001, Let’s Go Learn, Inc., pioneered the first online, computer-adapted, diagnostic assessments for K-12 math and reading. These assessments didn’t simply provide teachers with individual standardized achievement scores; through the use of diagnostic assessment, Let’s Go Learn was able to explain the strengths and weaknesses of each student so that the teachers understood why a student performed they way they did. The internet allowed vast quantities of information to be stored and manipulated in real-time across different locations and computers. And software allowed teachers to efficiently utilize pre-assessments and
Today, by using a data-driven approach to quantify not only where students stand along their learning path, but why, teachers gain a roadmap for developing a differentiated classroom. Most teachers already do some sort of differentiation of instruction naturally, whether formalized or not. But software helps quantify and scale that differentiation across a classroom quickly and efficiently. When each student has a learner profile driven by data, teachers can focus on the bigger picture, and the individual education experience in which each child thrives. Healthy learning environments which include personalization, real-time progress monitoring and formative assessment, multicultural education components, and student-driven context, provide an excellent differentiated environment.
The individual instructional strategies used to differentiate students vary depending on the students, the teacher, and the resources available. Lesson plans for individual students may include tiered assignments, flexible grouping, different or extra time allotments, adapting the number of tasks, peer tutoring, use of volunteers or assistants, choice boards, graphic organizers, contextual learning, and many other education concepts. All of these strategies must obviously be wrapped around direct instruction, classroom management techniques, and response to intervention (RtI) needs. There’s a lot going on. Periodic classroom assessments help make sure student learning is taking place.
Teachers may also utilize personalized instruction software which builds individual lesson plans for each student based on their diagnostic assessments. This type of supplementary curriculum allows teachers to work within resource constraints so that they can focus on where they can make the bigger impact in their classroom. Let’s Go Learn provides this sort of online software in its Edge curriculum products, which integrate directly with the diagnostic assessments to personalize education for each student.
The goal of creating a differentiated classroom is achievable within most resource constraints. In fact, with the use of edtech software, many constraints are overcome. Educational standards come and go, but by utilizing effective teaching, quality software, evidence-based strategies, and ongoing assessment, a differentiated class leads to academic success.