One source that stood out to me on the internet was 100+ Tools for Differentiation (https://www.edutopia.org/blog/differentiated-instruction-social-media-tools-john-mccarthy). Via Google, I typed in “differentiation for online instruction,” and this website was near the top of the list. I decided to stick with this one as it seems to focus on differentiation via Social Media — something we seem to be incorporating through this class via Blogs and Twitter. Just as in face-to-face, differentiation through social media begins with “content, process, and product” and carries through with “readiness, interests, and learning profile.” Again, trying to find a nice balance between student voice/participation and lesson structure/format (content). Readiness focuses on “current student academic level,” Interests allows ” students to tackle work based on the option that makes the most sense to them is crucial for cognitive connections,” and Learning Profiles allows students to ” address concepts from diverse perspectives, especially in collaborative groups, it can lead to in-depth understanding.”
To be honest, I don’t really know much about differentiation in the face-to-face classroom… I have not really had to “use” it since I teach upper-level students who seem to all be on the same page. I am also under the belief (impression) that at the upper grades (11 and 12) differentiation may be a hindrance to students as instruction may not be differentiated at the post-secondary level as well as not even thought about when it comes to the work force. Instead of differentiating my instruction I push and challenge students to meet my expectations and constantly raise the bar. While this is an extreme struggle at first, the rewards definitely pay off in the end with students realizing they are more capable than they initially thought…all without relying in differentiating instruction.
Thinking generally about differentiation, one similarity is that teachers work with a diverse group of students regardless of face-to-face or online. Students come to us with a variety of backgrounds and baggage that will affect not only their learning and education but how we instruct them and form bonds with them (again, much harder to do online). Scaffolding is another key concept to consider when it comes to differentiating instruction — just because a student signs up for an honors or AP class doesn’t mean that that student is actually and honors or AP student. This is where I struggle with differentiation. If you are signed up for my AP class then I am going to treat you like an AP student… I should not (and do not) lower the bar because you (student) may a poor life choice to sign up for this class. That sounds a lot harsher than it should… but, it’s something I struggle with. Looking through my courses on Schoology, I guess I do differentiate kinda by offering online texts and audio versions of texts…but, I don’t know if that counts as the work is the same and the expectations are still there. For online students who are practicing their independence and willingness to educate themselves on their own, is differentiation the best practice?
One glaring difference that still stands out to me is the communication and relationships students build with teachers and each other. Online, students are not as easily accessible and ready to foster those relationships and, frankly, neither are the teachers. There is also something to be said about having discussions face-to-face as this strengthens relationships as well allows participants to hear tone/inflection/etc in the person’s voice — something that is missing behind the computer screen.
Because I am not comfortable / at ease with differentiation I do not really know how I will incorporate it into my module. I am thinking that since my module is geared towards an introductory unit–the information can be given in a variety of ways (youtube videos, online articles, excerpts from books, etc). I could also set up an online discussion board where students collaborate and share ideas/thoughts on their readings. Pictures are also “worth a thousand words” so students could have the opportunity to see visuals that go along with what they are reading. Since I am also gearing this towards the Crucible and Salem Witch Trials, I can have links to performances of the play for further understanding.