The expansion of New Hope’s technology program this year has allowed teachers to further differentiate instruction in New Hope classrooms. Using differentiated instruction methods ensures that all New Hope students are receiving instruction that best suits their individual learning needs.
Research has shown that students learn best when the material they are learning is just beyond their comfort level, in other words, at a level where they feel challenged but not frustrated by the challenge. Meeting individualized instructional needs for 16 to 20 students in a class presents a different kind of challenge for a teacher. With the expansion of our technology program, New Hope teachers have additional tools to assist them in offering our students a rigorous academic program that is individualized for each student’s unique learning needs.
New Hope’s Chromebook program expanded this year to one-to-one in Grades 5 and 6 and one Chromebook for every 3 students in Grades 2 through 4. Teachers are utilizing these devices to offer differentiated instruction in Math utilizing IXL, a web-based math practice program. Students who have not mastered essential skills are able to practice these skills in IXL with immediate feedback on their progress. Other students are able to gain additional practice in their current lessons increasing numerical and calculation fluency. Advanced students may be working on the same skills by solving more complex problems at a higher grade level. Every student is able to advance their mathematical knowledge and ability through the use of this program.
New Hope’s Junior Kindergarten will soon be piloting an iPad program that will be expanded over the coming year to include Kindergarten and first grade. The use of these mobile devices will allow even our youngest students to interact and learn through technology. Students will soon be learning through the use of quality educational applications that support essential reading, math, and writing skills. Teachers will be able to record student progress and offer each student the instructional support they need.
Finally, New Hope is exploring the use of Kindle Fire tablets in reading instruction. These devices allow students to hear and read the story at the same time through a process called “Immersion Reading.” This process allows students to properly pronounce words that they might normally have difficulty decoding on sight. Students are also able to look up the definitions of unfamiliar words by using the built in dictionary. Because students first encounter the word in context, they have been able to recall the definitions more readily on vocabulary assessments. In addition to improving vocabulary, we have found that the use of these devices are also increasing reading comprehension, engagement, and motivation to read in some readers.
New Hope believes that each child is a unique creation of God and deserves an education celebrating that uniqueness. As we seek to meet each student’s educational needs in a highly rigorous college preparatory learning environment, we have been blessed with technology tools that allow our teachers to differentiate and individualize instruction.