The Tale of Two Classrooms

Differentiation…it’s not just for a classroom teacher!

As I continue on my journey as a secondary technology coach, I find that many of the successful tools and strategies I used with my students in my classroom, can also be applied in this role.  Differentiation is one of them.

Today’s post is about one project implemented in two classrooms, and how different that can look.

In a previous post, I spoke about a Book Trailer project I was introduced to by Monica Burns while attending the NYSCATE conference.  When I came back to my district I quickly contacted an English teacher at the high school who was planning to start book trailers with her students.  Although we were planning to use Adobe Spark video already to create books trailers, after listening to Monica speak, I had a whole new way of looking at the project. After meeting with the teacher and showing her a sample book trailer she agreed with the change of direction.

What does all of this have to do with differentiation?

Early in the school year, I was contacted by this high school English teacher and she wanted to meet because she was interested in introducing her seniors to a number of different presentation tools. She was hoping we could meet so I could share a selection of them with her.  When we met I shared some different tools with her, and she decided on introducing Google Slides, Emaze and Adobe Spark Video to her students. As the year progressed, she was going to introduce each of the tools one by one and have her students complete a presentation project using it.  At the end of the year, for their final project, students would be able to choose the tool they liked the best and use it to present their project.  After our initial meeting, we would meet during her planning time so I could go over the key features of each of the tools, and she would in-turn present them to her students.  For this teacher, introducing the tools and their function was the extent of the level of support she needed from me, and that’s ok.

On the other hand, I introduced the same project to a 6th grade ELA teacher and her special education co-teacher.  After the first day of working with them, with their students in a computer lab, one of the teachers said, “I am so out of my comfort zone, but with you here I feel so much better.” To this, I think to myself, YAY, even though she was doing something she was not used to she was willing to try it because she knew she had the in-class assistance.  After working for a few days in the classroom with them, they said they felt comfortable replicating the project again on their own. #WINNING

So although my level of support was very different in the two classrooms, the same project was achieved and the teachers (and students) learned how to use a new technology tool that can be utilized for many different types of presentations.  I am seeing how coaching comes in all shapes and sizes, and it is important to meet each teacher where they are in their use of technology.