Tool Review: Zaption Makes Differentiation Doable

One of the core instructional behaviors that I’ve been trying to polish over the past few years is providing differentiated learning experiences for my students.

The simple truth is that whole class instruction isn’t completely appropriate when my classrooms are full of students with incredibly diverse abilities.  My challenge, then, is finding ways to stretch students in need of enrichment and to provide extra practice to students in need of remediation.

That kind of targeted enrichment and remediation, however, ain’t easy to pull off.  First, it depends on my ability to accurately identify the different levels of mastery in my classroom.  Then, it depends on my willingness and ability to develop multiple sets of materials that are uniquely suited for students of different abilities. Finally, it depends on my ability to find and then give my students access to those materials on a moment’s notice!


That’s why I’m tinkering with Zaption — a service that allows students to interact with video-based content in interesting ways.

Zaption makes it possible for teachers to create interactive “video tours” that pair videos from popular sources like YouTube and Vimeo with content elements like text and image slides as well as multiple choice and open-ended assessment questions.  Adding text and image slides to a video tour allows teachers to reinforce key points.  Adding assessment elements allows teachers to get a quick sense for whether or not students are mastering important concepts.

Need an example of what a Zaption video tour looks like in action?

Then check out this tour on plate tectonics that I put together yesterday.  While you won’t get to see the reports available to teachers, you will get a sense for what a Zaption video tour looks like to students.

The free version of Zaption makes it possible for users to create tours built around one video.  Each tour created with a free account can include up to six content elements.  Zaption’s Pro features — which cost $79 per year — make it possible for users to create tours from multiple videos and to include up to 15 content elements in a tour.  There are also additional content, organizing and reporting elements — like classroom discussions and the ability to create student groups — available to Pro users.  Finally, Zaption has a Pro Campus feature that allows STUDENTS to create their own video tours.

My plans are to stick with the free version for the time being.  While I am REALLY intrigued by the classroom discussion features available to Pro users and the ability for students to create their own video tours available to Pro Campus users, I’m broke — and there is enough functionality in the basic version to let me do some interesting things in class.

My guess is that I will start to use Zaption to do both preteaching and reteaching in my classroom.  

Using Zaption at the beginning of a lesson can give me valuable information about what students know before I even begin teaching.  I might be able to quickly spot students — or entire classes — that can place out of individual lessons because they have already mastered the content or concepts that we are about to study.

I’m also excited about using Zaption tours as remediation activities in my room.  When students struggle to master content or concepts, I can turn them loose on a video tour for initial reteaching.  That will free me to work more productively with student groups in my room who actually need my attention.

Long story short:  I see a TON of potential in Zaption as a tool for facilitating my efforts to create differentiated learning experiences in my classroom — an instructional practice that I believe in and yet have always struggled to pull off on a consistent basis.


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8 thoughts on “Tool Review: Zaption Makes Differentiation Doable

  1. Tabatha Girdlestone

    Thank you for sharing this resource. As a future elementary teacher I could see this being really useful when teaching something new. So many young kids don’t want to be singled out so they won’t ask for help. This is a great resource to see who needs more help and who has grasped what has been taught. I will definitely be using this resource in the future!
    Tabatha Girdlestone

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  3. Meriwynn Mansori

    Hi Bill, thanks for sharing this fantastic resource! Along with my super team of curriculum writers/classroom teachers, I am working on developing a flipped Spanish 1 curriculum and this is the perfect tool both to encourage student engagement and to check for understanding. We use a lot of videos to introduce aspects of culture in the Spanish-speaking world that novice language learners can’t access in the target language, and Zaption would provide us with the ability to incorporate those guiding questions that help students connect these big cultural concepts to what they’re learning in the language classroom really nicely. As part of the Curriculum and Instructional Design team at VIF International Education, I’m also looking for good ideas to share with teachers in our online community,, and we have a discussion thread going right now on differentiation. I’ll be sure to share this tool and recommend your blog, which I discovered recently and enjoy reading.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Meriwynn,

      First glad you dig Zaption! I really do think that it is going to make providing additional learning experiences to my students easier. And if it is easier, I’m more likely to do it on an ongoing basis! That’s always been my struggle with any differentiation — preteaching, reteaching, pretesting and retesting all sound great in theory, but actually making it happen on a regular, sustainable basis can be intimidating. Zaption might make that easier.

      And jazzed that you dig my blog! I put a lot of time into writing and sharing here, so anytime that the content resonates with readers, I’m grateful times ten.

      Rock right on,

  4. alimcollins

    Thanks so much for sharing this resource. I see lots if potential here and like the fact that it allows teachers to create learning opportunities out of some of the great video content available on TouTube and Vimeo and make them more active than passive experiences for students.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Hey Ali,

      What I think I dig the most out of it is that I CAN use content from YouTube. There’s so much there that is useful — pairing it together with tools that make interacting with that content easier should be incredible.

      Rock on,

  5. Chris Jakicic

    Hi Bill, I see lots of uses for this in formative assessments. It seems like it will take a while to build up a repertoire of tours to use, but a collaborative team may decide to create one whenever they see that students can benefit from listening a second time to an explanation of a new concept. Watching a tour could be one choice a student could make when (s)he doesn’t feel like they’ve mastered an important learning target so that they have some investment in their own learning.

    1. Bill Ferriter Post author

      Chris wrote:

      Watching a tour could be one choice a student could make when (s)he doesn’t feel like they’ve mastered an important learning target so that they have some investment in their own learning.


      I really dig this language, Chris. It helps to remind me that “assessment” doesn’t have to be something that I do for students, but instead it can be something that students do for themselves. And better yet, remediation doesn’t have to be something that I assign to students, but instead remediation can be something that students choose to do on their own.

      That’s always been my struggle with assessment. It overwhelms me. And until I get to the point where my students can responsibly and accurately assess their own learning, I will probably continue to be overwhelmed!

      You’ve got me thinking, friend. Thanks for that!

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