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Tech Tip: Technology supports differentiated instruction in the elementary classroom

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Are you ready to increase creativity, collaboration and independence in the classroom? Incorporating digital tools into your small group instruction can go a long way toward achieving this.

In my kindergarten class, I introduce technology during the small group rotations. The day begins with mini lessons for the whole class, introducing new content and reviewing different skills. After this, we break off into small group station work. The small groups enable me to differentiate instruction and better meet the needs of individual students. Devices and apps are incorporated into the activities of these stations.

Here’s an example of the station rotations:

Rotation 1: Guided teacher instruction. At this station, instruction varies based upon the needs of the group. Example activities include guided reading, intervention/enrichment work and introducing new apps.

Rotation 2: Independent peer practice. Students work independently or in pairs/groups to reinforce learning. This may include learning games or collaborating on an iPad activity.

Rotation 3: iPads. Students use iPads and different apps including Lexia, MobyMax, Raz-Kids, QR code scanning or other educational apps. I may also have them work on activities where they create projects using Educreations, Book Creator or Knowmia Teach.

Rotation 4: iPads– We have two options for this station. I either 1) use a second technology station or 2) have the students use the writing wall, made of Plexiglass. Activities for these stations aim to reinforce writing skills (letters, numbers, sight words, number words/sets, sentence copying/writing).

This model has been very effective for my students. They are more engaged with activities and take ownership of their learning. Working alongside peers also strengthens communication and social skills. The mix of teacher instruction and high quality digital content has brought together the best of both worlds.

Tracey Dunn is a kindergarten teacher at Hopkins Elementary School in Mentor, Ohio. She has a B.A. from John Carroll University and an M.Ed. from Ashland University. Tracey was listed as one of the National School Board Association’s 20 to Watch in February 2014. She received the Teacher Innovator Award in January 2014 at the Ohio Educational Technology Conference, and was a part of the Ohio Trendsetter Award for Mentor Public Schools’ Catalyst Program.


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