Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Tuesday Tech Tip: Differentiation using grading groups in COLE 3.0/Schoology

One strategy that we often use in the classroom for differentiation purposes is grouping, ideally in a flexible and dynamic way (Heacox, 86-90).  Teachers have different ways of accomplishing this in the face-to-face classroom environment, but we also need to consider how to best utilize groups for differentiation in our online or digital classroom environments as well.

When using COLE 3.0/Schoology, this strategy can be employed using what Schoology calls "grading groups."  In the "Members" area of any course, you'll see an area on the right hand side of the screen for "Grading Groups."
You can create as many groups as you want, and students can be in more than 1 group to allow for flexibility.  Upon creating a group, you will see a list of students in your course.  Clicking on the student names will add them to the group.  If you need to edit the group after it's been created (like if you need to add new students), you can edit the group using the settings wheel pull-down.

Once groups are created, you can really start to differentiate the content in your course and do progress monitoring, either on an individual or group level.  

When making an assignment, an assessment, or a discussion board look for the icon that looks like 3 dots in the triangle -- it's the tool that allows you to assign something to a specific student or to a grading group.  Students in that group will see the item while others will not.  If you create different assignments for different groups, COLE 3.0/Schoology will create each assignment in the gradebook for you.

And, speaking of the gradebook, creating grading groups also allows you to filter your gradebook assignments to see how different groups are doing on assignments.  Using the pull-down where it says "All users" will let you choose to view only certain students in a group.  If, for example, you have students who need accommodations due to a 504 or IEP, filtering your gradebook can help you see just that group.

For those schools using PowerSchool's gradebook, you can also create groups in PowerSchool for similar purposes;  however, COLE 3.0 and PowerSchool don't communicate with each other in terms of groups.  But, if a group assignment is created & graded in COLE 3.0/Schoology and pushed to PowerSchool, it will only record grades for students in that group.

* from Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom, Diane Heacox, 2002

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