What are differentiated instruction (DI) and universal design for learning (UDL)?
Differentiated instruction (DI) is "an instructional approach that gives students 'multiple options for taking in information and making sense of ideas'" (p. 277). In this way, educators create different educational experiences in order to meet the specific needs of students. This approach takes into account the differences in the students while trying to create curricula that is both challenging and engaging the students' interest.
Universal design for learning (UDL) is "the application of universal design principles to educational settings" (p. 279). UDL considers how the brain takes in and applies information. Taking this into account, teachers design curriculum that can accommodate student needs.
For both DI and UDL, the students benefit from a wide range of educational experiences that can lead to learning success. The teachers are the ones who determine how students learn and succeed in these situations. Teachers can maintain a class curriculum and order that activates and promotes learning success, or they can maintain a drool classroom that does not do much to inspire learning in their students.
Tech Tool Link: Jim Martindale's Calculators On-Line Center
Jim Martindale's Calculators On-Line Center is a website that has links to over 22,000 calculation programs. These calculation programs have simulations and teaching modules that allow for both student and teacher entertainment. The site enables a student to calculate many random things, from the storage capacities of an iPod to wind chill factors. It is very handy for finding a calculator for any situation.
Overall, the site is not very visually appealing, which may turn off some students. Above is the first thing you see when accessing the site. Scrolling down, the sea of royal blue continues. It is very easy to navigate, however, which may make up for its boringness in color and images. It divides the links into categories such as "Agriculture" and "Chemistry Center" which makes it easy for students to browse by specific topic.
Summary and Connections
I found the section discussing calculators the most amusing in this chapter. It says that "Calculators are a topic of sharp debate among educators" (p. 287). I can easily see why. Many calculators nowadays can solve a complex problem in one step. Students are becoming too reliable on calculators and are therefore not learning the actual processes that lead to an answer a calculator will just spit out for them. According to the Education World website, there are the "Calculator Champions" who claim that calculators:
- allow students to spend less time on tedious calculations and more time on understanding and solving problems.
- help students develop better number sense.
- allow students to study mathematical concepts they could not attempt if they had to perform the related calculations themselves.
- allow students who would normally be turned off to math because of frustration or boredom to increase their mathematical understanding.
- simplify tasks, while helping students determine the best methods for solving problems.
- make students more confident about their math abilities.
- produce students who can't perform basic tasks without a calculator.
- encourage students to randomly try a variety of mathematical computations without any real understanding of which is appropriate or why.
- prevent students from discovering and understanding underlying mathematical concepts.
- keep students from benefiting from one of the most important reasons for learning math -- to train and discipline the mind and to promote logical reasoning.
- inhibit students from seeing the inherent structure in mathematical relationships.
- give students a false sense of confidence about their math ability.
I see the sides of both arguments, however I often favor the side of the "calculator critics." It is more than just the calculator use itself, it is how a teacher implements calculators into their agenda. The way most teachers teach proves the calculator critics correct.
Maloy, Robert, Verock-O’Loughlin,Ruth-Ellen, Edwards, Sharon A., and Woolf, Beverly Park (2011). Transforming Learning with New Technologies. Boston, MA: Pearson Education, Inc. ISBN:10 0-13-159611-X, ISBN:13 978-0-13-159611-5
Martindale, J. (2013). Martindale's Calculators On-Line Center. Web. 3 April 2013.
Starr, L. (2002). Educators Battle Over Calculator Use: Both Sides Claim Casualties. Education World. Web. 4 April 2013.