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February 28, 2012
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News for the Education Profession

ASCD Special Report: Differentiated Instruction & Technology (Part I)
By creating opportunities for students to excel, regardless of learning style and individual needs, differentiated instruction enables teachers to help each diverse learner reach his or her potential and meet common curriculum goals. When working to differentiate instruction, teachers must identify ways in which students are different and also establish ways in which they are similar. Technology is becoming one of the star players in helping educators teach students with varying learning styles and abilities and ensure that each student has the opportunity to excel.

Part I of this report examines how schools and districts are working to serve the educational needs of all of their learners, including gifted students and learners with disabilities. This segment of the report also delves into the role that technology -- including the Internet and a range of mobile-computing devices -- plays in fostering learning among students when schools are striving to ensure accessibility for all.

Part II of the report, to be published Thursday, will focus on educator training and how technology is facilitating personalized learning for students. The second part of the report also will examine how schools are handling budgets and restraints on funding that have the potential to hinder teachers' ability to implement DI.

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  At a Glance 
  • Should students be grouped by ability?
    A school in Arizona was able to curb the exodus of its top students to nearby charter schools by clustering students in the classroom. In cluster grouping models, all students in a grade level are grouped according to their ability and achievement levels. A cluster of either gifted or high-achieving students -- one or the other -- is in every classroom, along with only two or three other clusters. The method allows teachers to spend more time with individual students and gives gifted students a better chance to excel, according to Dina Brulles, director of gifted education services at Paradise Valley Unified School District in Phoenix, and Susan Winebrenner, founder and president of Education Consulting Service. Educational Leadership (2/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Educator: Individualized learning vs. standardized testing
    Arthur Goldstein, who teaches English-language learners in Queens, N.Y., suggests in this article that differentiation be applied in assessments to account for differences in students. Teachers are trained on how to reach each student as an individual, but Common Core State Standards and other forms of evaluation, such as the New York State English Regents exam, tend to favor a more "formulaic" style of teaching. "[T]he only skill they acquired was passing the English Regents [exam]," writes Goldstein, recalling one of his classes. The New York Times (tiered subscription model)/SchoolBook blog (2/17) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
“If you’re not feeling a little bit uncomfortable about being a teacher or being in education right now, then you’re not paying attention.” The internet: an added challenge for learning, or an opportunity? Hear what 21st century skills author William Richardson has to say in this free video.
  In the Classroom 
  • Special-education students benefit from brain research
    Techniques based on brain-science research increasingly are being used to improve the education of students who have disabilities. At one Maryland private school that serves students with disabilities, brain-science strategies are used as part of the school's Model Asperger Program, while researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology are using brain imagining to help predict which students might have dyslexia or other learning challenges. Education Week (premium article access compliments of (1/18) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Was more guidance needed before inclusion shift?
    Three years after implementing a system of inclusion at San Diego, Calif., schools, some are questioning whether the district was prepared for the change. Going from one extreme to the other, San Diego made special-education training optional for teachers and that individual schools received little guidance on how to make the switch. One principal said more expert guidance should have been provided. Education Week/On Special Education blog (1/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  Technology and Trends 
  • How technology has transformed learning
    The emergence of widespread Internet connectivity, social networking and mobile computing all have contributed to the creation of a new type of learner, according to a study by the Pew Research Center. "These three elements together have changed the context of learning," said Lee Rainie, director of the center's Internet and American Life Project. Students today are more self-directed, more inclined to collaborate and rely on feedback from peers, and are better-equipped to obtain information, the article states. T.H.E. Journal (12/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Rural students benefit from online algebra course
    Students who took an online Algebra I course in eighth-grade performed better in high-school algebra and more likely were to take rigorous math classes later in high school than students who had access only to general eighth-grade math, a new study shows. Researchers studied the use of the virtual course in small rural schools in Maine and Vermont, in cases where students were ready for advanced math but did not have access to a formal face-to-face course. Education Week/Inside School Research blog (12/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Students gain independence through technology
    Special-education students at a New Jersey elementary school are using iPads, laptops and other technology to learn and communicate. "Using technology like this fosters independence and that's what we want for all of our children, regardless of what grade they are in," said Jill Troisi, a physical therapist and member of the district's Assistive Technology Team. "We would rather provide students with a device than send them out of district to a private institution," she added., N.J. (1/30) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  Accessibility for All 
  • Giving students equal opportunity to excel
    All students can have an equal opportunity to achieve academic excellence through a strategy known as "teaching up," according to the writers of this article. To implement the strategy, educators must accept human differences, help students grow as learners, understand students' cultures and interests, focus on rigor and understand that students enter the classroom with varied knowledge. They also recommend that teachers have flexible processes and procedures in the classroom and be analytical practitioners. Educational Leadership (2/2012) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Federal data highlights funding inequity among schools
    While all schools are to be treated equally under federal law, schools in Broward County, Fla., with higher enrollment of low-income students, received less funding. U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan said last year that he recognized the problem, and many school districts are supplanting funding for low-income schools with federal funding through the Title I program. Sun-Sentinel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) (2/13) LinkedInFacebookTwitterEmail this Story
  • Other News
  ASCD Resources 

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