Research into Technology Supporting Differentiation
My driving question for my research project was: How can technology successfully support differentiation in the classroom?
In order to answer that driving question I required three guiding questions to support that overall question. The three guiding questions were:
Background and Need, Rationale, etc.
A private school 4th grade math classroom has eighteen students in it. Four of the students may be recognized as high ability, one student may be a child with learning disabilities and will therefore be a low ability student in that classroom, and the remaining thirteen students may be average ability students who do find some areas of mathematics more challenging than others. Even though the number of students is low there is still the need for differentiation in that classroom and technology could play a vital role in the learning of the students. Differentiation has involved a blended classroom model, ability grouping, mixed ability grouping and the teacher working directly with students who find a specific concept challenging. The focus needs to be on how the technology can be introduced and ensure that it is used in a manner which is beneficial rather than as a tool to keep students busy.
There are three areas of research pertinent to the research questions:
2. Technology to support differentiation in the Mathematics classroom
Differentiation through technology is not a simple process and needs to be planned out. A student with ADHD who has difficulties focusing on long texts or staying focused might benefit from video-streaming. A student with processing difficulties might benefit from virtual manipulatives in the math classroom.
3. Blended Learning in the Mathematics Classroom
When introducing technology into the classroom there are a variety of models that could be used. The Blended Learning Model is an effective model which can be suited to a variety of different curriculum areas, including the mathematics curriculum.
Data Collection and Analysis
Any research requires measurable data. I began the project with a basic survey to understand what the students’ opinions were towards both Mathematics as well as Technology. The Survey consisted of eight basic questions and the teacher was able to gather data from that survey.
Following the implementation of the Blended Learning Model I gave the same survey to the students with the following results.
The project required me to divide the class into five clearly defined student groups. These groups were set-up according to the students’ Mathematical abilities, with a focus on ‘fractions’, and was based on a pre-assessment given to the students prior to the study. The assessment included 10 questions on fractions.
A Post-Study Assessment, with another ten questions involving fractions was performed by the students, and although there were still a few students who did not complete all the questions correctly, they were able to identify the errors.