Here's a different approach to the "filtering" issue ... "intelligent  
directing" ... the big difficulty being, I suspect, making this  
available to student at home, in the public library, and other places  
that aren't on school grounds ....

Customized Learning
by Amy Ellisor

A search engine that adapts to individual student abilities has  
proven to be an ideal addition to one district’s effort to  
differentiate instruction.

ONE OF THE FASTEST-GROWING and most diverse K-12 school districts in  
South Carolina, Richland School District Two, is committed to  
integrating new teaching methods and modern technologies into its  
daily academic life. One area that Richland focuses on is the use of  
differentiated instruction (DI) in the classroom.

Four years ago, to augment student learning and to fully utilize the  
information received from the Northwest Evaluation Association’s  
Measures of Academic Progress testing, the district began providing  
intensive professional development in DI based on the work of Carol  
Ann Tomlinson, a professor of educational leadership, foundations,  
and policy at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of  
Education. Building on that training, Richland teachers have  
continued to develop lesson plans that incorporate new content,  
activities, hardware, and software that meet the diverse learning  
needs of each child.

One component of the district emphasis on differentiated instruction  
is netTrekker d.i., an online search tool that allows teachers and  
students to hunt for educational resources for various reading  
levels. Students in more than 70 1-to-1, technology-integrated  
classrooms throughout the district use it every day. Though some  
online resource portals such as or also  
offer relatively safe online searching, Richland chose netTrekker  
d.i. because it was designed to support differentiated instruction in  
addition to providing reliable content. The content is all educator- 
selected and aligned to state standards.