Differentiated Instruction and TechnoKids

differentiated instruction

Every time teachers step into their classrooms, they face the evidence of the need for differentiated instruction. Each student arrives at school at a different starting point: a certain attitude of readiness for learning, an individual style of acquiring knowledge, and a distinct level of mastery of concepts. Multiply these three factors by the number of students in the classroom. The resulting figure is daunting but makes it obvious that ‘one teaching method fits all’ isn’t a practical strategy.

Differentiated instruction recognizes and supports individual differences in learning by using a variety of teaching strategies. There are so many options and resources available today that we can adjust for the diverse abilities, needs, learning styles, and interests of our students. As teachers, our goal is to optimize student growth and success at all levels of ability, not simply to achieve or reach a standardized benchmark. Teach every student.

Brain based learning studies support a variety of instructional strategies. As students make connections between what they already know and their new learning, interconnections in neural pathways are formed. As a result, information is stored in multiple areas. Meaning and retention are both enhanced.

In teaching ICT, we have lots of ways of tailoring instruction to meet individual needs. TechnoKids project-based computer lessons support differentiated instruction with student resources, teaching strategies, and assessment tools.

Process

Differentiated instruction requires that we provide a variety of learning opportunities. Students should be able to build a repertoire of tools. They can accommodate their own preferred styles of learning, as well as recognize and build skills in their individual areas of weakness.

TechnoKids project-based learning supports the process of learning using differentiated instruction:

  • Vary learning tools. Integrate technology and use the computer as an alternative and additional tool.
  • Target different senses with multiple instructional strategies. TechnoKids Student Workbooks engage students by reading written instructions, studying illustrations that support text, looking at infographics, and handling manipulatives such as TechnoKids tool flashcards. Sample files have students listen to audio and watch video. Brain based learning studies show that most of us learn best when the kinesthetic senses are used – doing, handling, building. Robotics projects prepare students to build STEM skills and support hands-on learning. TechnoKids Teacher Guides provide teaching strategies, technology integration ideas, and assessment tools.
  • Chunk material into manageable parts. TechnoKids projects are divided into smaller sessions or assignments. In this way, a complex task becomes doable.
  • Present learning tasks in graphic organizers. When students create a plan of their ideas for a an inquiry, TechnoKids projects often have them use a chart, brain storming web, or mind map to outline and develop their proposals.
  • Repeat to reinforce. Students build skills through practice, so Skill Reviews and Extension Activities allow for repetition.
  • Allow students to work at different paces. By using the pdf or print copies of TechnoKids workbooks, individual students can complete the activities on their own timeline.
  • Mix up individual and group collaboration. Individual, pair, small group, and whole class activities should all be part of classroom experiences. Flexible grouping allows students with similar learning styles to work together.

Content

Recognize that students have different levels of familiarity with concepts before a lesson is taught. Differentiate activities by designing assignments that cover various levels of Bloom’s taxonomy, from remembering (lowest level) to evaluating (highest level).

  • Give students the big picture. Most TechnoKids resource files include a number of samples of completed projects. Seeing and reviewing a finished project solution motivates students, builds interest, and provides a clear example of what is being assigned.
  • Provide a starting point. A number of TechnoKids projects, especially primary level projects, include templates. Students can focus on the technology and learning skills without getting bogged down in the less critical details of setting up a document.
  • Combine methods of instruction. Blend a mixture of teacher directed, print, video, and any other instructional techniques. This serves the purpose of both maintaining student engagement as well as appealing to diverse learning styles.

Product

The final creation or solution to an inquiry process should be interdisciplinary and open-ended. Allow students to build on their learning style strengths by offering choices. Self directed learning allows for students to work independently and develop critical skills such as organization, creativity, judgement, and persistence.

  • Build engagement by offering choices. Involve students by encouraging them to pitch their own ideas for projects. TechnoKids projects allow for creative thinking and open-ended learning experiences.
  • Offer a variety of outputs. When students are given options, they take more responsibility for their learning and become more engaged. TechnoKids projects may be a presentation, visual art, timeline, graphic story, newsletter, questionnaire, blog, interactive map, animation, and many more!
  • Provide opportunities for assorted types of assessment. TechnoKids grading tools include student, peer, and teacher checklists, rubrics, rating scales, marking sheets, and skill summaries.
  • Incorporate reflection. Summarize learning, process new learning, identify areas for improvement, and set goals. Many TechnoKids projects contain a reflection component in a final celebration of learning.

Computer Science and Technology Integration

Brain research tells us that learning really ‘sticks’ when activities are both meaningful to students as well as integrated in curriculum in an interdisciplinary approach. As well, students are motivated when they are actively discovering and investigating a problem.

computer science

Teach coding with Scratch to middle school and junior students to build computational thinking skills.

TechnoCode, the newest technology project developed by TechnoKids, was created specifically to spark an interest in computer science by engaging students. As they use Scratch to build programming skills, young learners construct a series of activities for kids. As game designers, they consider their users’ interests and abilities. They become authentic programmers who plan, code, and actually field test their unique creations.

The TechnoCode project is primarily a STEM project that teaches coding. However, the activities also integrate into other areas of curriculum including language arts, mathematics, social studies or science, visual arts, and music.

Computer Science

TechnoCode is an introduction to programming. The activities have students build algorithms that sequence commands, events, loops, and conditions. Use the project to target computer science learning outcomes. The project includes a detailed list of skills achieved in each Session, ideal as a teacher checklist for assessment.

Language Arts

The assignments in Session 1 and Session 4 can be integrated into curriculum as a language arts unit. In these assignments, students engage in visual storytelling. They create animated scenes and stories. To extend language arts learning outcomes, the concept of plot, setting, and characters is also applied when engineering games in Session 3 and 5.

Integrate coding into curriculum.

Integrate coding into curriculum.

Mathematics

Integrate TechnoCode into an existing problem-solving unit in Math class. The assignments are an ideal fit because coding requires mathematical and logical thinking. For example, placing sprites on the stage requires plotting ordered pairs, rotating objects involves knowledge of angles, and setting the size of sprites uses percentages. As well, logic is used to control when or if an action happens.

Social Studies or Science

Include The Session 4 Skill Review in TechnoCode as a creative way to showcase learning into another subject area. In this activity, students build an interactive diorama. It shows a scene from nature or a historical event that engages the viewer to click on objects to learn more. Complete the activity to have students share facts or create a simulation about a topic currently being studied. Samples provided include space exploration, tornado, and farming.

Visual Arts

Target visual arts learning outcomes with TechnoCode. Graphic design is interwoven throughout the activities. Students apply their creativity to paint or edit unique sprites and backdrops. They also apply their skills to engage the audience using visual elements. In addition, the Session 2 Extension Activity specifically has students draw artwork with a pen using code.

Music

Integrate TechnoCode into a music class. In the Session 3 Extension Activity, students invent an instrument. This activity is a fun way for students to express their musical talent.

programming

TechnoCode technology project teaches programming using graphical blocks.

Inspire your students to become coding ninjas with TechnoCode!

Teaching Ideas for Programming with TechnoCode

coding with Scratch

TechnoKids’ newest release is TechnoCode, a technology project that introduces coding with Scratch to elementary and middle school students. It is an ideal project for Grades 4 and up. Jam-packed with programming activities, TechnoCode sparks an interest in computer science. Step by step instructions explain how to build animations, stories, games, art, music, and simulations.

Empower students with real-world skills they can use in the workplace. The instructional materials in TechnoCode encourage students to think like programmers. Resources include sample videos to inspire imaginations, planning sheets with guiding questions to help design scripts, assessment tools to evaluate student work, and coding journal logs to reflect upon learning.

Ideas for Implementation

The TechnoCode project has students create animated scenes, construct mazes, broadcast stories, engineer games, design artwork, compose music, build a diorama, and more! The activities are suitable for any teaching situation. Select the option that works best for you and your students:

  • Coding Unit with Elementary Students: Assignments in Sessions 1-3 in TechnoCode are ideal for students new to Scratch. The activities are perfect for Grades 4 and up. Students design animations, create art, develop games, and compose music. The emphasis is on coding basics including how to build scripts, sequence commands, control action with if then conditions, and create simple loops. The activities focus upon directing movement, synchronizing sound, and understanding x and y coordinates.
  • Coding Unit with Middle School Students: Once students understand the fundamentals of coding in Sessions 1-3, they extend their learning in Sessions 4-6. The activities are ideal for students that understand the fundamentals and are ready for a challenge. The critical and computational thinking required is ideal for students in Grades 6-8. They produce a story, engineer a game, develop a treasure hunt, build a diorama, and remix a project. The emphasis is on having students manipulate the appearance of sprites, direct the timing of events with broadcasting, and create original artifacts using conditions, variables, and operators.
  • Scratch activities for kids.

    Build games using Scratch. Learn how to use variables to track the score.

  • Computer Science Course: TechnoCode has 25 assignments designed to ignite an interest in computer science. The focus is on thinking like a programmer. Each coding activity is divided into four parts – exploration, practice, freestyle, and reflection. Using a question and answer format, students discover the function of command blocks. Next, they follow guided instructions to build scripts. Afterwards, they apply their skills to complete open-ended challenges. Once a Scratch project is finished, students write a coding journal entry to reflect upon the experience.
  • Hour of Code: If you only have one class to teach coding there are many assignments in TechnoCode that can be used for this purpose. If your students are beginners, they can develop simple animations. Assignment 5 targets how to build a script, Assignment 6 explores directing movement, and Assignment 14 focuses upon changing the appearance of a sprite. If your students have existing knowledge of Scratch, the skill reviews in Sessions 2-5 are excellent challenges.
  • Coding Workshop Series: If you are running a workshop series as part of an after-school program or community event, then you will need to select assignments that fit the number of classes offered. As well, consider the age range and coding abilities of students.

Coding with Scratch is highly addictive and fun! Your students will develop a host of essential technology skills as they create unique games, interactive stories, animations, and more!

Teach HTML Coding using Chromebooks

A web-based HTML Text Editor is required to teach HTML coding using Chromebooks. There are several free apps available that integrate with Google Drive. This allows your students to easily create or edit HTML files.

If you are using a Google Classroom you may need to gain permission from your system administrator to have students connect an HTML Text Editor to their Google Drive. Our favorite app is HTML Editey . If you are unsure if your students have access to this app, refer to the section Multiple Ways to Access HTML Editey at the bottom of this blog article for helpful suggestions.

Use HTML Editey to Teach HTML Coding using Chromebooks

When developing the TechnoHTML5 version for Chromebooks we tested many HTML Text Editors. This technology project has STEM activities that spark an interest in computer science. Although the instructions will work with most web-based HTML Text Editors the app we recommend to introduce programming to kids is HTML Editey. Here is why!

Preview Pane

Students can live preview their HTML coding as a web page. This provides instant feedback when coding. HTML Editey has two panes. On the left side is the source code. On the right side is the web page. As students type an HTML tag they can immediately see the text, image, or hyperlink. Students can quickly notice if an HTML tag is correct. If it is not, the content won’t display. This is a great way to develop coding skills.

HTML Editey

Teach HTML coding using Chromebooks with HTML Editey. See a live preview of the web page as you code.

Line Numbers

HTML Editey has line numbers beside each line of code to label each HTML tag or CSS attribute. The number line is on the left side of the pane. This information provides an identifier when analyzing the code.

Temporarily Hide a Code Snippet

Most HTML tags have an opening and closing tag. The content between these tags can be temporarily hidden from view. This is helpful if you have a table or long list of items that is taking up space in the source code pane. Code snippets that can be collapsed or expanded are shown with an arrow beside the line number. When the arrow is clicked the code is no longer visible and a symbol shows in the code. When the symbol is clicked the code reappears.

Collapse HTML Code

Temporarily hide a group of code from view.

Wrap Text

Some HTML Text Editors keep each line of code as one continuous line that stretches across the screen. When there is lots of text it becomes difficult to read or edit. The great news is HTML Editey wraps long lines of code to fit inside the source code pane.

Color Code HTML Tags

HTML tags are used to add content to a web page. HTML Editey color codes the HTML tags. For example, HTML tags are red. Web addresses are green and equal signs are blue.

Color Code HTML tags

The color coding of HTML tags makes them easy to read.

Color Code CSS Tags

CSS is used to style the content of a web page. It sets how the background, headings, paragraphs, or images look. HTML Editey color codes the CSS attributes. To illustrate this point, CSS properties are yellow. CSS values are orange and the size of the CSS values such as px or % are purple. This makes it easy to code the appearance of the web page.

Color Code CSS

The color of CSS attributes helps to code the style of a web page.

Auto-pairing of Tags

Many HTML tags are written in pairs <body> </body> <h1> </h1> <table> </table>. Each pair has an opening and closing tag. For instance, a paragraph starts with the tag <p>. The text that will show on the web page comes next. The paragraph ends with the tag </p>. To speed up coding, HTML Editey automatically adds the closing tag.

Inspect Images

When using a web-based text editor to design a web page, images are added by linking to an existing picture on the Internet. File properties can be shown directly in the preview page of HTML Editey. Right click on an image and select Inspect or press CTRL + SHIFT + I on the keyboard. The dimensions will display.

The height and width information can be used to set the size of the image in your web page. To give you an idea, if the original image is 600 pixels wide by 400 pixels high but you want it smaller on your web page, you can divide each number by two to cut the size in half. This can be put into the img src tag to control the appearance
<img src=”https://www.site.com/picturename.gif” width=”300″ height=”200″>.

Inspect Image

Display image information to set dimensions.

Identify and Explain Errors

HTML Editey does show coding errors. A red x will appear beside a line number. When clicked a message displays describing the error. If you are new to coding often the explanations are not very meaningful. However, they do help beginners know that there is a problem they need to solve.

Multiple Ways to Access HTML Editey

There are several ways to access HTML Editey.

  • Option 1: Visit https://html.editey.com/ and login to Google Drive to create a new HTML document.
  • Option 2: To create a new HTML document, you can access HTML Editey directly from Google Drive. To do this, sign into your Google Drive. Click the New button and then select More. From the list, select HTML Editey from the list. Afterwards you may need to sign into the app to use it. If the tab opens to a blank window, you may not be signed into the HTML Editey app. Close the blank window. You may see a message. If you do, click Sign back in. Now, try the steps again. If this doesn’t work, use Option 1.
  • Option 3: To edit an existing HTML document in Google Drive, select the html file. Click More actions or right click the file in your Google Drive. Select Open with.
    Pick HTML Editey from the list.
    • TIP: To right click on a Chromebook, press the ALT key at the same time you click the mouse button or track pad.