How do we meet the needs of all our students in a diverse classroom?

A single classroom will likely have a combination of general education, ELL, exceptional, and SE students all together.  This means there are many different learners with diverse needs.  This can be addressed through the use of research-based instructional practices.  In other words, utilizing methods and tools that have proven successful.  The wide range of student abilities necessitates the use of scaffolding and differentiation.  Teachers ultimately want to be as effective as possible.  Meeting this goal requires changing and adapting instruction to best meet the needs of students.  Educators should aim to have classrooms that are learner centered.  Instructors need to make it a priority to create a positive learning community in their classrooms where all students feel safe taking academic risks.  If students are not comfortable making mistakes, they will not learn and grow.  There are many instructional strategies teachers can make use of to meet the needs of all their students.

When introducing new information, teachers need to segment or chunk the content into smaller pieces to make it easier for students to understand.  The teacher should model procedures, expectations, and strategies for their students so they are set up for success.  Students need opportunities for independent practice.  Additionally, teachers need to include frequent reviews throughout their units and the entire school year.

One method teachers can employ is the use of personalized agendas.  Each student is given an agenda, a list of tasks they need to complete within a certain amount of time.  Every student will not have the exact same tasks as they are modified to fit the student.  The student has the freedom to choose what order they will do the work in, and the teacher can monitor and circulate around the room conducting informal assessments along the way.  It is important for teachers to check student understanding on a regular basis.   Assessments are an essential component of effective teaching practices.  Teachers need to make their tests learner-friendly and incorporate a chance for students to revise and improve their thinking.  For example, after grading the test the teacher may allow students to do test corrections for partial credit.  Teachers should use different kinds of assessments, such as written, verbal, projects, and presentations.  Assessments should be used to inform their instruction and lesson planning.  Another method is orbital studies.  In this strategy, the students investigate a topic they select themselves independently.  The topics come from the curriculum.  The teacher provides guidance and coaching.  Tiered activities are another form of differentiation.  Figure one explains the process of creating a tiered activity.  It allows for all students to learn the essential knowledge and skills.  It is a way of helping students who are struggling and students who are excelling simultaneously.  This helps ensure that all students are learning and are getting the right amount of challenge.  In addition to individual learning, cooperative can also be beneficial.  Students will encounter diversity in their adult lives, so working with their peers prepares them for their futures.  They will have to cooperate with their team and come up with solutions as a group.

Tiered Activity

Figure 1

Having a diverse classroom should be viewed as an asset rather than a burden.  With so many different minds in one classroom there is ample opportunity for sharing and learning from each other.

The Teacher’s Toolkit

EDU 6526 Survey of Instructional Strategies – Course Meta-Reflection

It is important for educators to be equipped with a variety of tools to most effectively teach.  These tools can take many forms including strategies, instructional models, and techniques.  Teachers have many methods at their disposal from many different resources such as their teacher preparation program content, their coworkers, and the vast amount of literature that exists on teaching.  Following a teaching model may seem limiting, but exemplary educators are able to make them their own while still maintaining the essence of what makes the model effective.  They are also able to enlist an assortment of approaches so that both the teacher and their students stay active and engaged.  We know there is no one-size-fits-all in education, and within any model an instructor uses there will be accommodations and modifications when appropriate.

Student-centered approaches are a particularly potent device in the teacher’s arsenal.  This tactic takes into account the diverse needs of students.  Essentially the teacher personalizes and tailors instruction to accommodate student needs, level of ability and skills, and areas of interest. In today’s classrooms that include ELL, SE, SA and students with IEPs alongside general education students, this is especially relevant This approach involves scaffolding and differentiation content and support so that all students are learning and growing.  This method is characterized by equity, students all get what they need to achieve learning outcomes.  Teachers empower their students to take ownership of their learning and advocate for themselves.  An illustration showing this method can be found in figure one.

Framework-for-Student-Centered-Education-091214

Figure 1

A fundamental question teachers must frequently ask themselves is “are students learning?”.  If the answer is not clearly affirmative, then the teacher should use this opportunity to delve into their tool box and try something different.   Sometimes learning is happening but not at the level we were hoping to achieve.  In this situation it is important to consider Bloom’s taxonomy of learning.  We as teachers need to evaluate where students fall so that we can help facilitate deeper, lasting learning.  It can also be helpful with older students to ask them to self-evaluate where they are.  A visual representation of Bloom’s ideology can be found in figure two.

blooms_cognitive_domain

Figure 2

Teachers should not waste their own time or their students time.  This means that educators should give meaningful assignments and then provide detailed feedback.  There is no point in giving students “busy work” which will not assist any learning.  By the same token, if you are not willing to provide responses to student work, then the student will not know what they did well and what they need to work on.  Ultimately, a grade with no explanation is not helpful to learners.  This means more work for teachers, but also student growth and progress.

In a similar fashion, any type of assessment should be strategic.  The students should be able to look at their score on a test and see what they did well on and what they need to work on.  Teachers should look at their students test scores as a whole as their own form of self-evaluation.  If a lot of students missed the same question, then that is a sign that the teacher needs to re-teach that specific piece of content.   Perhaps this means the teacher will also decide to change their approach since their initial attempt was not effective.  Some strategies we looked at over the course of this quarter included asking students questions, making a distinction between concepts and facts, and using advance organizers.  All of these can be incorporated into a unit of study.

Teachers understand  the value of educating the whole student, in other words not only meeting their academic needs but also their emotional needs.  Teachers must help students develop good citizenship and the ability to work effectively with others.  We want our students to be equipped with important life skills for their futures.  Good teachers recognize and take into consideration the different personalities, intelligences and abilities that coexist within their classrooms.  They foster a sense of community and make their rooms a safe and inclusive place of learning for everyone.

This course caused me to reflect upon my experiences as a student, both good and bad.  I thought about teachers I have had that I want to be like and some others that serve as examples of what I do not want to be.   This class has given me yet another lens to examine effective educators.

Sources:

Dean, C. B., Pitler, H., Stone, B., & Hubbell, E. R. (2012). Classroom Instruction That Works Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, Dean, Ceri B.; Hubbell, Elizabeth Ross; Pitler, Howard; Stone, Bj (2012-01-05). Classroom Instruction That Works: Research-Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement (2nd ed.). McREL.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Students at the Center: Teaching and Learning in the Era of the Common Core. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.studentsatthecenter.org/about

Using a Learning Taxonomy to Align Your Course. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.ucdenver.edu/faculty_staff/faculty/center-for-faculty-development/Documents/Tutorials/Assessment/module2/index.htm

Allowing Students to Grow

How practical are multiple intelligence activities?

Teachers have a tendency to focus on the educational and intellectual needs of their students, but it is also necessary to take students feelings and emotions into account.  This is one reason why relationship building with students is so important.  There are certain feelings that can negatively impact student learning.  A perfect example of this is stress which is detrimental to short term memory.  According to Medina,  “Stressed people don’t do math very well. They don’t process language very efficiently. They have poorer memories, both short and long forms. Stressed people do not generalize or adapt old pieces of information to new scenarios as well as non-stressed individuals. They can’t concentrate. In almost every way it can be tested, chronic stress hurts our ability to learn” (Medina, p.65).  Clearly, emotions are something teachers need to consider to ensure their students are acquiring knowledge.

Teaching is commonly thought of as teachers broadcasting information and students receiving it.  However, if all teachers did was lecture and talk at the students there would be very little learning occurring.  It is essential that students be active participants in their own learning.

In non-directive teaching approaches the teacher takes on the role of a learning facilitator, rather than decision-maker.   They cultivate an ideal learning environment and provide guidance.  This type of teaching lets students know that teachers are not the only one with answers, and that everyone has something of value to contribute.  This model is designed to help students become more effective, better at self-evaluation, and to achieve greater personal integration.  The teacher gives students the freedom to come up with their own problems and solutions.  This self-directed learning process can be very effective.

Joyce describes four components of this teaching model.  The first aspect involves the teacher.  The educator must exhibit genuine interest in the students, and be friendly and responsive.  Secondly, the teacher should maintain neutrality and not criticize or judge the students’ feelings.  the third component is that students can freely express their feelings within reason.  The fourth component is that the teacher does not pressure or coerce the students in any way.  They avoid indicating any personal bias.  In this way, students have the chance to grow.

The five phases of this model are:

  1. Defining and helping the situation
  2. Exploring the problem
  3. Developing insight
  4. Planning and decision making
  5. Integration

 

Gardner came up with the groundbreaking theory of multiple intelligences.  They are visual-spatial, bodily-kinesthetic, musical, interpersonal, intrapersonal, linguistic, and logical-mathematical.  He emphasizes the importance of teaching content in a variety of ways.  An image illustrating the components of his theory can be found in figure one.  Everyone has different strengths which can be best utilized in specific  ways.  That being said, it is good for students to get accustomed to challenges and improve in the process.  Gardner says ” When children are young, we should encourage well roundedness. As they grow older, it becomes more important to discover and cultivate areas of strength. Livelihood and happiness are more likely to emerge under those circumstances”.  In non-directive teaching, students are encouraged to pursue their interests and ask questions.  This can serve as a tool to improve areas of strength as well as weakness.  They are also required to evaluate what they know and what they do not know, which informs their own inquiry and investigation.

multiple-intelligences-learning-styles

Figure 1

Everyone has different learning preferences and it would be impossible for a teacher to simultaneously cater to all the diverse wants of their entire classroom in a single lesson.  There is also evidence that suggest this is not best practice even if it were reasonable.  “When instructional style matches the nature of the content, all learners learn better, regardless of their differing preferences for how the material is taught” (Brown, p.146).While teachers may choose to alternate between different teaching styles that suit the various learning styles and material, students possess the lion’s share of the responsibility for their own learning.  It is important that students take charge of their own learning.  Being able to identify the knowledge you need and to independently pursue it is a valuable life skill.  Teachers need to allow students to struggle and make mistakes.  Deeper learning occurs when the students expend effort trying to puzzle it out themselves instead of having it spoon fed to them by the teacher.  Mistakes teach us significant lessons and are opportunities for learning.  Students need to take responsibility and learn to advocate for themselves.

 

Sources

Brown, P. C., Roediger, H. L., & McDaniel, M. A. (2014). Make It Stick: The Science of Successful Learning. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Joyce, B., Weil, M., & Calhoun, E. (2015). Models of Teaching (9th ed.). Boston: Pearson.

Medina, J. (2014). Brain rules: 12 Principles for Surviving and Thriving at Work, Home, and School. Seattle, WA: Pear Press.

Ostwald-Kowald, T. (n.d.). Understanding Your Student’s Learning Style: The Theory of Multiple Intelligences. Retrieved from http://www.connectionsacademy.com/blog/posts/2013-01-18/Understanding-Your-Student-s-Learning-Style-The-Theory-of-Multiple-Intelligences.aspx

Edwards, O. (n.d.). An interview with Howard Gardner, Father of Multiple Intelligence.

EDSP 6644: Final Reflection

Danielle Petrovich Lit Review EDSP

I chose to include my literature review assignment as my artifact for this class.  The topic of my paper is students with emotional behavioral disorders.  Many students with EBD spend the majority of their school day in a general education classroom setting.  This means all educators are highly likely to work with a student with EBD.  As such, it is important for educators to mindful of the challenges that kids with EBD face and the best ways to support them.  Being aware of this topic will make me a better teacher because it makes me a more informed educator.  Every student is unique and has different needs, but knowing what some of the common challenges are and some of the strategies that are successful in working with students with EBD makes me better equipped to help these students.  Students with EBD need support and instruction in not only academic, but social and emotional skills as well.  They are challenging students, and understanding why is an essential component of helping them.  In my paper I discuss how important building relationships with students is.  This is true of all students, but it is especially significant to helping students with EBD be successful.  With all the responsibilities modern educators have it is hard to find time to build relationships, especially with students who can be very difficult to interact with.  Despite what their actions may imply, students with EBD really do want to connect with people and they need to.  Another teaching strategy I have taken away from this research is the importance of praise.    It is very important to catch students doing well and to positively acknowledge them, especially if they do not often get compliments from the adults in their lives.  Part of this is providing lots of opportunities for all students to be praised.  The more positive interactions teachers have with their students, the more likely that this trend will continue in the future.  Many of the strategies for helping students with EBD apply to general education students as well.  Ultimately, helping the student(s) in your class who have EBD is beneficial to all the students and you because it promotes a positive learning environment and good rapport among everyone.

ISTE Standard 6 Reflection

My question was, how can students learn and help with the process of troubleshooting?  There is a common trend of students being more tech savvy than some of their teachers.  Students can be a great tech support resource for teachers and peers.  The article I found gives an example of a successful program called Generation YES (Generation of Youth and Educators Succeeding).  It started in 1995, and since then has helped train many students on providing technology support in their schools (over seventy-five thousand students in two thousand schools all over the world).  The program involves developing technology skills, project planning and mentoring.  The Gen Yes curriculum is a combination of lessons led by the instructor and student help desk.  It advances best practices as well as good digital citizenship.  The students learn how to troubleshoot hardware and software problems and build their digital literacy skills.  Some schools offer it as an after school program, and others offer it as an elective class.  A lot of things the students learn are professional and life skills, which means they have many applications outside of the program.  It is empowering for students to learn troubleshooting skills and then use those skills to help others.  They are more likely to be engaged because of the hands on nature of the tasks.  It is a great program for students who are interested in technology, and it gets them involved in the school community while doing something they enjoy and feeling like they are contributing in a meaningful way.  The program is designed “so that students bring technology into myriad initiatives–peer mentoring around tech literacy, student-led community workshops, helping teachers retool their lessons–as a way to get the entire school to embrace technology”.  Putting students in leadership positions in this way can be very effective.  They are likely to be excited to share their knowledge with others.  Students  may be more receptive to help from their peers than their teachers.  That being said, it important not to assume that all students you have will have strong technology skills based on their age.  Not all students have access to or interest in technology.  It is also important that students do not develop learned hopelessness when it comes to technology.  It can be tempting when working with students that are very low so simply take control and do it for them.  Instead, teachers should walk them through the appropriate troubleshooting steps so they can do it independently in the future.   It is important that teachers are comfortable with the technology that they use in their classroom with students.  Technology can be empowering for both students and teachers when executed successfully.

Pierce, M. (2013, October 1). Student-run Tech Support Programs Advance at the Speed of Technology. Retrieved August 12, 2015, from http://thejournal.com/articles/2012/11/06/student-run-tech-support.aspx?=THE21

ISTE 6

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