Many parents, grandparents, and teachers lament the fact that kids today don’t have the chance to grow up in the “good old days”. Yes, it’s true, we live in a very high paced society. For kids nowadays, text messaging and computers are part of their everyday tapestry. So it is only natural that parents and teachers should tap into the technologic strengths of today’s learners to help build literacy. Teachers often have computers in the classroom to assist students with research projects. Parents often want to know what computer programs are out there to help their children succeed. One of the distinct advantages of technology is that it gives us the opportunity for differentiated instruction.
Differentiated instruction allows teachers and parents to really work with the child on his or her level. While we have been used to criticizing the computer and video games for changing the way or kids look at things, we need to remember that some of the technological skills that these tools teach are very important. Technology gives kids the chance to experience school subjects in a whole new way such as books on tape, computerized reading programs, and using computers to research biographies. Kids can begin to explore the idea of recording themselves doing a puppet show, creating a blog, or using podcasts or social networking sites to create on-line book studies with virtual friends.
Parents can meet the needs of siblings by giving them the same kinds of tasks but at varying intensity or level. Teachers can allow students to schedule independent study time using varied mediums, while they challenge the gifted learner or designing a more intensive program for the struggling learner. It is so exciting for a child to help design a culminating project around something they have learned. It sure beats the boring book reviews that were used back when many of us were children. In another way, technology can prepare students for future learning. It is getting more and more common for colleges and universities to offer distance learning programs and on-line classes. This new way of thinking is so different than the way students currently experience instruction, that many are not prepared to challenge the status quo or to approach problems both collaboratively and virtually. So the next time your child turns on that DS, encourage them. They may be learning more than you think!!