How technology can support diversity in the classroom

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Diversity, according to Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, is the condition of having or being composed of differing elements, especially the inclusion of people of different races, cultures, etc. in a group or organization.

As an educator, with over 17 years of experience, I’ve heard the word online learning diversity used in various contexts throughout my career. However, over the last 16 months or so, the importance of diversity–and especially inclusion–has been highlighted to Americans across the country, in very visible, and sometimes unsettling ways.

Throughout my career, I have taught a variety of grades from 1st grade to 6th grade ELA in a host of states and school districts. Currently, I am the Gifted and Talented Specialist for River Trail Elementary in Upstate South Carolina.  In this role, I’ve taken a fresh look at how I am helping to highlight the power of diversity in the classroom and build a more inclusive learning environment–particularly in the STEM fields–in which all learners can see themselves as they prepare for life beyond graduation.

Over the last few months, I’ve connected with colleagues from my past to collect actionable strategies teachers can use to support greater diversity in the classroom and in their lessons, along with more inclusive learning environments. Here are some of the best strategies I’ve collected:

Empower students to guide the conversation with dynamic digital content: Like most teachers, I am afforded access to many resources. My first choice, when selecting content, is the Discovery Education platform, which was recently updated with a host of great new features. Fort Mill Schools, the district I currently work in, has a close relationship with Discovery Education (DE)  and the many products they have available.

Joanna Barney, Gifted and Talented Specialist, Fort Mill School District’s River Trail Elementary School

Joanna Barney is a Gifted and Talented Specialist at Fort Mill School District’s River Trail Elementary School and a member of the Discovery Educator Network. She serves GT Identified students in grades third to fifth. She also serves as a STEM Leader for her designated school location. You can reach her at [email protected]

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