In a recent article, Canadian researchers identified the greatest challenges to implementing effective differentiated instruction in the classroom. Topping the list were teacher workload, lack of time, the perceived complexity and difficulty of differentiating, and the increasingly diverse needs of individual students1. As educational technology allows us access to more student learning data, how can we as educators use that data to create meaningful, differentiated activities? But more importantly how can we make the process of differentiating simple and diverse without making it incredibly time consuming? One platform that offers hope is BookWidgets.
What is BookWidgets?
BookWidgets is a content creation and evaluation tool for teachers. It gives teachers the ability to quickly and easily create learning activities and exercises that can be quickly auto-graded and then modified to meet student needs. The beauty of BookWidgets is that they can be easily used with any LMS platform, embedded within hyperdocs or shared via a link. Using BookWidgets does not lock you into a single platform, it makes any platform you already use more powerful and flexible, supporting student learning from beginning to end.
How BookWidgets Can Make Differentiation Easier
- Leveled Learning: Any activities that you build in BookWidgets can be easily duplicated and modified. This makes creating leveled learning opportunities easy. Once an activity is created, simply duplicate it and make modifications to lower or increase the difficulty. Another strategy is to give every student the same activity but preposition resources such as the Tip Tiles Widget so that struggling students can feel supported when things get challenging. Because BookWidgets can be shared with links, you can add these supportive resources to documents, link them to readings, or connect them to QR codes. Imagine a class station rotation that provides QR codes that students can use on an as needed basis to check their work or get help. You might also use BookWidgets to create a self assessment and include flashcards.
- Individualized Supports: BookWidgets allow you to create a variety of supports based upon student needs. Field trips are fun but can be hard for students once they are outside of the structure of the classroom or separated from the teacher. This example helps students to visualize the trip, share the schedule and offers a checklist to help them prepare. The Video Quiz Widget allows you to place questions, text, activities or a white board at any given point in a video so that while students may be learning independently, they won’t be unsupported. There are far too many tools to list them all, but you might start with showing students how to use the text to speech features or if you want to add a personal touch by adding an audio recording of your questions in your own voice to support students with language processing challenges. You can also change the language settings of the widget to provide support for language learners.
- Tools For Expressing Learning: BookWidgets offers many different ways for students to represent and share their learning. Teachers can have students create mind maps and timelines. The Whiteboard Widget creates a wide open canvas for students to draw diagrams or show their work in their own unique way. Game Widgets can also make the expression of learning organic and fun, allowing them to play while they learn using matching or memory activities. They can complete word searches and crossword puzzles. In a stressful world, teachers will appreciate these tools that can merge learning and fun.
- Monitor Progress: Each BookWidgets identifies if it supports live monitoring. This reduces the difficulty of differentiating and tracking progress while allowing the teacher to easily support students and focus their help where it is needed most. BookWidgets also integrate well with LMS platforms like Google Classroom and make grading and offering feedback a streamlined process. Many teachers see differentiation as complex, but these tools can add simplicity and transparency for both the teacher and students.
- Effective Remediation: They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different outcome. Every teacher has found themselves repeating an explanation that just doesn’t click for students, realizing they need to take a different path to help them understand. As teachers we know that we might have to provide a variety of examples before a student grasps a concept. The sheer number of options available within BookWidgets means that it is easy to position those opportunities for students, allowing them to explore and understand and providing them with alternate paths if they don’t. Because they can be shared via a link these supports can be embedded in articles, added to study guides, shared during study sessions and used for review to make sure that learning sticks. For the student who is worried about asking for help too often, BookWidgets allows teachers to integrate that help into the materials they share every day.
If schools want differentiated learning to succeed, they have to address the challenges that stand in their way.
- teacher workload,
- lack of time,
- the complexity of differentiating,
- increasingly diverse needs
Not every tool that we use can help with these challenges. What makes BookWidgets stand out from other tools is that using them does not lock you into a single platform or tool. It doesn’t force you to create yet another workspace for students. BookWidgets can integrate into your existing tools in a way that makes what you are already using better and more flexible for learning. It can simplify the process for differentiating instruction, save time in creating and evaluating activities, and make providing meaningful, individualized feedback a part of every lesson.
If you would like an in-depth training for BookWidgets feel free to contact us to create a tailor-made training for you and your classroom.
1 “Planning for Differentiated Instruction: Empowering Teacher ….” 8 May. 2023, https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s42330-023-00270-5. Accessed 3 Aug. 2023.