Bergen 2001 - Technology in the Classroom Differentiating Curriculum with Technology Enhanced Class Projects

Childhood Education
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Technology in the Classroom: Differentiating
Curriculum with Technology-Enhanced Class
Doris Bergen
To cite this article: Doris Bergen (2001) Technology in the Classroom: Differentiating
Curriculum with Technology-Enhanced Class Projects, Childhood Education, 78:2, 117-118, DOI:
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Published online: 26 Jul 2012.
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Differentiating Curriculum
With Technology-Enhanced
Class Projects
ne challengeoften faced by teachers of gifted and talented students
is finding ways to elaborate on
projects assigned by the classroom
teachers with whom they team.
Peggy Ludwig, of Ross Local
Schools in Ohio, has found that
engaging these children in developing multimedia projects using
presentation software (e.g., Power
Point)is an effective way to provide
curriculum differentiation. Because
Peggy often also works with the
rest of the children in the 5th- to 8thgrade classes, including those with
learning problems, she can help
classroom teachers differentiate
curriculum for these children as
When a teacher has a project assignment, Peggy and the teacher
meet to discuss the lesson plan and
the grading rubric to be used. If it
is a group project, the teacher assigns the group members; then the
children come to Peggy's technology lab to plan and implement the
projects. These projects include
gathering information from the
Internet or from on-line databases,
taking and scanning pictures and
or drawings, and adding video clips
or hyperlinks.
The projects have encompassed
many subject areas. For example, a
science project on endangered species involved gaining information
and scanning pictures of these species from the Internet; an art project
involved creating digital pictures
of the children's drawings and mak-
ing a presentation for a school art
show; a home economics project
required developing a digital cookbook with recipes and pictures; and
social studies projects focused on
the United States presidential campaign, the design of a space station,
and digital videos of Civil War battle
scenes. The presentations are saved
on a CD and put on the school Web
server so that they are not only presented in class, but also available
for others.
Peggy has found that children of
every ability level are very motivated to design these presentations,
"even students not normally motivated." Approximately 20-30 minutes of instruction about the
software is all that is needed to get
started, and she provides a "tip
sheet" for further assistance. Peggy
has found that the gifted and talented students show great initiative and high levels of creativity.
She has specific expectations for
their projects, and comments, "They
also have high expectations and
really like the feeling of learning on
their own." Their motivation level
is so high that some of them also use
their study hall time to work on
their projects. She says that they are
"really excited" and "when one of
them learns how to do something
new, the others all want to learn
too." At the end of the school year,
the children in the gifted and talented group also create "digital
portfolios," in which all of their presentations are hyperlinked.
Children with other types of special needs are usually able to master
the basics fairly quickly, although
they may need more "step by step"
assistance. Peggy has found that
more of these children have not had
experience with use of the Internet
or presentation software,and so this
activity is an important extension
of their experience. The activity
also seems to increase all of the
children's social skills, because they
must decide how to work together
on group assignments. Most of the
groups divide up the topic so that
all of them are doing both research
and production. The children always seem to get along well, and
Peggy has had no discipline problems. While doing the projects, the
children are "happy, having fun,
and intensely engaged." As for
classroom teacher participation,
Peggy estimates that "about half"
the teachers are very receptive and
interested, while the others have
taken a more "wait and see" attitude. She expects to have more
teachers collaboratingthis year. She
would be glad to talk to the readers
of this column (you can reach her at
RO-Lud [email protected]).
Pros and Cons
o f Kidspiration
Inspiration is a popular program
for older elementary children (newest version is Inspiration 6). It is a
visual learning tool that helps children develop ideas and organize
their thinking by taking them
through the steps of creating and
modifying concept webs, thought
maps, and other graphical methods. The software has received
awards from parent, library, education, and technology groups. A new
version, Kidspiration, is designed
for children in grades K-3, and it
features many of the same qualities
as the Inspiration software. There
are two integrated sections, Picture
View and Writing View. Picture
View has maps, webs, and other
visual learning diagrams, and its
visual library includes 1,200 symbols. There is also an audio feature
and a “SuperGrouper,” which is
an interactive drag-and-drop tool
for grouping and rearranging
symbols. It includes over 45 student activities related to many curriculum areas. Teachers can also
create and modify activities. These
products can be reviewed a t
I was interested in knowing
whether the software was really
suitable for kindergartners, so I
asked a 5-1 J2-year-old boy to do a
”test run,“ and then sought feedback from him and his mother:
The mother’s comments:
”This program really needs to have the
teacher very involved if it is to be used
with younger children. The teacher
models each lesson before letting the
children interact with the program, and
the directions are specific to the lesson.
There are a number of interesting activities in the Picture View section,
which involve dragging pictures into
the text boxes. The weather can be
charted, clothes can be put on figures,
animals can be categorized, real and
pretend objects can be differentiated,
and shapes can be selected. Many concepts need a hands-on activity first so
children know how to categorize. For
example, there is a science activity categorizing magnetic and nonmagnetic
objects that requires manipulation of
such objects first. Nonreaders can tell
stories and readers can write stories
that go along with the picture diagrams.
1 18
The program is not like many of those
for younger children, which orally tell
the directions and prevent children
from manipulating the objects on the
screen in nonprescribed ways. I showed
my child how to make the text boxes
and figures larger and smaller because
he was frustrated when trying to put
objects in the boxes, and they did not fit
neatly without overlap. Once h e
learned how to manipulate the sizes of
the objects and boxes, he enjoyed doing
that more than doing the tasks that
were asked for in the lessons. If a
teacher plans to use this asa more interesting way to d o what might have been
done on workbook pages, the program
might be useful. However, for younger
children, it requires a great deal of
through six learning activities for
each culture. They can hear the
language of that country or can hear
descriptions in English.
Primary age children can use Kid
Pilot (Knowledge Adventure,
$14.99)to learn more about travel in
the United States. Children can
learn about U.S. cities and landmarks, geography, and aviation
terms and flight skills.
A Web creation software for 9- to
12-year-olds is Sitecentral, which
can expand children’s geographical knowledge by helping them create Web pages to share with children
around the world. It provides templates, clip art, and graphics; it also
can import photographs. It is available from Knowledge Adventure
The child’s comments:
Web Site
Kids’ Planet is a Web site
( sponsored
by Defenders of Wildlife that has
fact sheets on different species, as
well as puzzles and games, maps,
R E S O U R C EFSO R TEACHING and an animated Web of Life story.
Teacher resources, including a bibliography and curriculum related
to wolves, are also available.
If you have a classroom with children from a number of language ArticleslBoo ks
backgrounds, try Play Math, a proSubrahmanyam, K., Greenfield,
gram available from UNICEF. P., Kraut, R., & Gross, E. (2001).
Based on Piagetian theory, the pro- The impact of computer use on
gram offers 17 math games for chil- children’s and adolescents’ develdren ages 4 to 12, with a help file for opment. Applied Developmental Psyadults in 10 languages. Concepts chology, 22,7-30. Readers might be
included are identity, order, quan- interested in this new review of the
tity, spatial relationships, and ori- impact of computer use. The auentation, as well as numerical and thors discuss a variety of interaccomputational skills. The difficulty tive technology modes, not just
level can be adjusted. Order from computers.
UNICEF, at 1-800-553-1200. Also
Behrman, R. E. (Ed.). (2000).
available: a Pippi Longstocking CD Children and computer technology.
in 11 languages, for ages 4-7; each In The future of children. Los Altos,
title costs $22.00.
CA: The David and Lucille Packard
A multicultural program of inter- Foundation. (Website: www.future
est is Travel the World With Tommy, This collection of
available from Edmark Corporation articles addresses similar issues,
($24.95). Five countries, from four especially pointing out possible
continents, are featured. Children opportunities and threats for chilages 3-8 can learn cultural customs dren of the next generation.
“I liked to d o the weather every day
and it was cool to make the boxes bigger and smaller. I could make the people
fatter but then the clothes didn’t fit.
Some of the things were fun to do.”
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