As teachers, we know that differentiation is critical for student success, but it can be difficult to meet the needs of every student. Having an interactive whiteboard is like a dream, because it gives me the tools I need to create activities that meet my students’ various needs, and it also allows my students work at their own pace.
I split my students up into flexible groups so that children with similar needs can work together on an activity. They rotate through a variety of groupings over time so that they’re exposed to each others’ learning styles and strengths. Whether I’ve downloaded an interactive whiteboard activity from a website like Gynzy or I’ve designed it myself, in that single lesson I can have multiple versions of the activity, all focusing on key content, to address my students’ different readiness levels, interests and academic needs. For example, students who lack background knowledge can do sorting and matching activities to build vocabulary and create connections among key concepts, while grade-level readers can work together to answer multiple choice questions. Advanced students can collaborate to use higher order thinking skills to apply the knowledge of the topic to solving a problem or to use it in another subject area, like English, math or science.
One of my colleagues uses her interactive whiteboard to differentiate instruction by using project-based learning. She says that project-based learning is wonderful because it gives students flexibility in how they demonstrate their learning. They can complete projects at their own pace, and they can show their understanding of the content in creative ways, like adding multimedia and interactive elements to their assignments.
The Impact on Learning
When planning my lessons, I challenge myself to understand the content better so I can be more flexible in teaching it, and to be more aware of my students’ individual needs so I can connect them to what I’m trying to teach. Having the tools at my fingertips to easily differentiate instruction has had a big impact on my students’ success. My students like the interactive activities, so they work harder and longer on difficult tasks that they might have otherwise avoided. They also work more independently, take more responsibility and have pride in their work.
My interactive whiteboard has helped me to improve at the art of differentiation, and it has really made a difference. How do you use your interactive whiteboard to differentiate instruction and allow students to work at different paces?