Top 5 Tools to Help Differentiate Online Learning

Top 5 Tools to Help Differentiate Online Learning 

Differentiation, although not a new academic term, it most definitely continues to be a top buzz word in the world of education. Differentiation in a nutshell is a teaching strategy where a teacher changes up the instruction to meet the needs of different learners.  Differentiation can take on many forms in the regular classroom setting as well as in the virtual world. Here are 5 tools to help you differentiate your instruction in your online classroom. 

The Power of PowerPoint
Tried and true, PowerPoint is the go-to presentation tool for many teachers and it is the perfect tool for differentiation in the virtual world.  One of the easiest ways to differentiate in PowerPoint is to use hyperlinks. You can jump from one slide to another slide with one click regardless of slide order. You can also hyperlink to a video, a file, or a website. If you have a student that needs extended help, you can hyperlink to a tutorial video or another slide within the PowerPoint specifically designed for small group instruction or extended help.  

Branch out
Google Forms is another great resource to differentiate within the classroom as well as in the virtual world. With forms you can “branch” to specific sections. If a student answers a question incorrectly, branching can take them to another section where they can get a mini lesson to remediate the question and then go back and try again. 

For a video tutorial on Branching go here: How to Branch in Google Forms

Choice Boards
Choice boards are a great way to differentiate your instruction and can be used for any subject.
Providing student choice allows them to take ownership of their learning. Whatever virtual platform you are using, you can introduce your students to the options in a variety of ways. You can create a choice board using Microsoft word, google docs, PowerPoint, to name a few. A choice board can be compared to a tic-tac-toe board. Each square can be its own individual assignment, or the assignments can be used to build on one another. In addition, you can hit all learning styles while creating various levels of rigor.  And bonus! A choice board can double as a learning contract!

Create and Write
The 21st century student is typically tech savvy, visual, and will avoid writing activities because they simply “don’t like to write” or prefer writing text messages versus essays. However, a great
differentiation strategy is to create then write.  Have students complete a quick sketch (give them between 2 and 3 minutes) they can draw whatever they want.

Here are some examples: 
·         Favorite room in the house
·         Family
·         Cat
·         Neighborhood
·         Heart
·         Dog
·         Favorite food 

After time is up, they will write about their drawing. The rules are, there are no rules, just write,
whatever comes to mind, it doesn’t have to be complete sentences, don’t worry about punctuation, just write. Give them about 3 minutes.  This activity takes away the fear of writing and the fear of being “wrong” because there are no rules. Just write. 

There are tons of online educational games out there but Quizizz is one to reckon with when it comes to differentiation! Students can engage in the activity at their own pace as well as get instant feedback. It’s user friendly and mobile friendly which is perfect for learning anywhere at any time (Hello distance learning!)

For teachers it’s great because it collects data and provides a way to assess your students as to where they are at in their learning. There are millions of teacher made Quizizz to choose from or you can create your own. The possibilities are endless! 

Quizizz recently updated their platform going beyond multiple-choice questions and engaging learners critical thinking skills with a wider range of question types. As if that wasn’t enough, Quizizz has accessibility features including multiple languages, zoom and read aloud options. Did I mention it’s FREE!?!?! Check it out here:

Thanks to these 5 options, differentiation with distance learning and virtual classrooms just got easier! 


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