Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Continued... Learning Outcomes and Me

ED-D 425
What I Will Learn Response

1. Evidence is in Assignment #1 and #2
2. This is something I somewhat understood before taking this course, but the UDL outline really helped me to see the different aspects that I must take in to account when I am teaching students with diverse needs. Specifically, I learned a lot in this course about different types of technology that are available for all different kinds of students with disabilities. I was able to see the different technologies and think about people that I know and how these new technologies could help them. For example, there were multiple ATs that could help my Aunty converse with others, as well as, help my past students to learn how to express themselves or help them to read and write.
3. One of the big things we learned about this is that, contrary to American Law, the Canadian Government does not have any laws about AT and supplying it to students in need.
4. There are many different terms and applications of assistive technologies in classrooms. One thing to remember, is that not all AT is high-tech and expensive. Instead, there are many items that are considered low-tech and do not cost a lot. Furthermore, some tools  can be leant out so that the student/family does not have to pay a large fee to use it. Some other terms would be mid-tech, low incidence, and high incidence.
5. I am aware of many different barriers that are experienced by students who have LD. Some of them are physical, emotional or/and intellectual. There may also be a language barrier  that needs to be considered when helping students with LD, as well as, cultural differences.
6. My knowledge of this is most evident in Assignment #2.
7. This is something that I believe I've already touched on in my Blog posts. Many students don't feel included in the learning environment because they have to deal with barriers such as communication issues. Sometimes students do not feel safe participating in class and that is why establishing a safe learning environment is so important. Also, students may have the knowledge that is requested of them but they may have difficulty expressing themselves, that is why it is important to have a range of activities and assignments that students can choose from so that they can pick which best suites their communication style and strengths. Also, AT can help to break down these barriers by helping them to read, write and/or present information clearly. Furthermore, AT can help students to understand information better by being interactive.
8. In this course I was able to become familiar with many different types of AT. For example, I was able to explore Kurzweil, Inspiration, Co-Writer, Clicker 5 and Clicker Paint. Furthermore, I was introduced to the use of switches and things like Brix, Go Talks, Super-talker, Ablenet, Smart 2 (which I could see working for my Aunt Kathy), and much more.
9. Refer to #8 for my response to this question.

Taking this course taught me to have high expectations for each of my students and to make sure they have all the assistance they need in order to meet those expectations. It also taught me about the array of AT that is out there that I can help find for my students. It also taught me how important it is to be aware of the following when planning my future lessons: Representation, the action and expression that is involved in that lesson and how engaging the lesson is. If I am able to take all of these in to account, then I should have resourceful, knowledgeable learners, Strategic, goal-directed learners and Purposeful, motivated learners, who could ask for anything more?

The UDL principles:
1. To Support recognition learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of presentation
2. To support strategic learning, provide multiple, flexible methods of expression and apprenticeship.
3. To Support affective learning, provide multiple, flexible options for engagement. 

Final Entry: The Course Learning Outcomes and Me

EDCI 487

  • Definitions relevant to differentiated instruction:
The new terms that stand out for me, that I have learned from this course are: Tiering, Readiness, the "Football", Learning Profile and Anchoring Activity. 

  • Principles relevant to teaching diverse learners across the curriculum
There are many principals that we addressed when creating lesson plans in order to teach diverse learners. I believe my learning in this area is most evident in my DI assignment and my reflection on the assignment in my previous blog post.

  • Strategies which facilitate differentiated learning
I am lucky to say that I have learned a lot of different strategies to facilitate differentiated learning. Some of those are as follows: Pre-assessment, Having Hand-outs for students, Assessment during the lesson, Tiering by readiness, ability levels or interest, as well as implementing the different aspects of UDL in to my lessons. Also, I think it is important to help students organize themselves so that they can be successful. This can be done through colour-coded hand outs and organization 'tips of the day'. 

  • The theory and practice of teaching diverse students:
The theory behind teaching diverse students is to recognize their needs. In the beginning of the school year, this can be done by asking students to fill out questionnaires about their ability levels and interest areas. After these are completed, you can begin to create lessons that are applicable to your students. Furthermore, throughout your teaching, regular assessment is important so that you, as a teacher, are aware of what your students are understanding or having troubles understanding. Also, you must be aware that you can differentiate the content, process and product of each of your lessons.

  • Principles and practices in formative and summative assessment in differentiated settings:
Another thing to remember is that formative assessment should happen regularly so both the teacher and students can see where students may be struggling or excelling. This information can then be used in the students learning profile. Also, if most students do not do a good job during a formative assessment, then the teacher can try to re-teach the topic in a different way. Furthermore, the teacher can see where certain students may need extra help or guage their readiness and ability levels in order to tier appropriately in the future. Summative assessments should also be done in order for teacher's to see what the student has learned. It has been suggested that the summative assessment near the end of the course should be 'weighed' more during the calculation of the final mark because it exemplifies how the student has grown over time. 

  • The components and role of the environment in relation to differentiation:
Environment is an extremely important aspect of differentiation. The Learning Environment of your classroom should be safe and secure so that students do not fear ridicule from others and where they feel confident in their learning. This can be done in many ways. In my classroom, I make sure to set out classroom rules in which the students can help to create a list of regulations that will help them to feel like the classroom is a safe place to share their ideas. Also, the teacher should make sure to uphold these rules in the classroom at all times and to always be aware of what is going on in the classroom. I always made sure to stand by the door and greet my students as they came in and ask them about their weekend plans etc. The teacher must also take a Leadership role so that students can look up to the way the teacher acts and watch as the teacher models appropriate behaviour. Building a classroom community is imperative to good teaching and the gaining of new knowledge.

  • A model for differentiating instruction:
Once again, I believe my learning of this is evident in my DI project and reflection on it.

  • Two intelligence preferences models
The two intelligence preferences models are as follows:

Howard Gardner's Designated and Pissible Intelligences:
Verbal-Linguistic, Logical-Mathematical, Visual-Spatial, Musical-Rhythmic, Bodily-Kinesthetic, Interpersonal, Intrapersonal, Naturalist, Moral. 

I would have to say I am Visual-Spatial, Musical-Rhythmic, Intrapersonal and a bit Bodily-Kinesthetic and Logical-Mathematical.

The other is Robert Sternberg's Proposed Intelligences:
Analytical, Practical and Creative. 

I would have to say I am very Practical and then fairly Analytical. I would also like to think I am creative, especially when it comes to creative writing. 

  • Use an effective model for differentiation of instruction:
Once again, I believe my learning of this is evident in my DI project and reflection on it.

  • Design and present lessons based on student readiness, interest and learning profile:
Once again, I believe my learning of this is evident in my DI project and reflection on it.

  • Distinguish between various types of learners.
I find it hard to explain my learning on this subject, but I will say that I realize how important it is to work with and assess my students constantly so that I can distinguish between the various types of learners and help them to learn. When I say assessment, this could be something as easy as sitting in on group discussions or talking with students one on one. This course also made me realize how important it is to tailor to all my students needs, even if only one or two students need extra help, I should make sure that assistance is there for them and be prepared for each lesson. I should also try to mix up my teaching styles so that everyone has a chance to learn in their own way. However, this does not necessarily mean I have to teach so that I hit all learners every day, but, during a unit, I must make sure to try to teach to each of my students needs during that unit so that they all have a chance to learn in the easiest way possible for them.

  • Select strategies and tools used to differentiate according to interest, learning profile and student readiness.
Each of my future lesson plans, as well as the DI and UDL lesson plans I submitted, exemplify strategies and tools used to differentiate. I will be sure to include interest, learning profile and student readiness in each lesson plan and make sure that everyone is included. I will also include the theory of affect in my teaching.  I will do this by using all the strategies I learned in this summer institute and my previous courses taken at UVic. I am truly thankful that this institute turned out the way it did because I think I learned a lot more than I did during my previous semesters here because I finally had something to refer to (my practicum) when I was learning. Doing courses after my practicum has really helped me to visualize and apply what I have learned because I learn best through application. I have constantly thought about incidences that happened to me and my fellow classmates and have been able to apply what I have learned and can see how knowing the elements of DI could have helped in those situations. 

DI principles:
1. Design respectful tasks;
2. use quality curriculum;
3. flexibly manage the classroom environment;
4. continually assess and,
5. build classroom community. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Response to DI and UDL Assignment #2

DI Assignment:

I was disappointed in the mark I received on my DI assignment. I honestly thought I took a sub-par Lesson plan and was able to make it in to, what I thought, a very diversified lesson. The one thing I will say, is that I accidentally said I was tiering by readiness when, in fact, I meant ability. The ironic part is, is that my presentation was on the difference between ability and readiness and I was quite aware of the difference and yet I accidentally used the wrong one. This was a big error on my part and I wish I had been able to see that before I submitted the assignment. I also had a Power Point Presentation that went along with my Lesson Plan that I should have handed in as well so that Ruthanne could see what I was describing in my lesson plan.

Creating the DI Lesson plan really helped me to see how important it is to think of all students when you are creating a lesson plan. Each student should feel welcomed and safe and feel as though they belong; because they do. It also helped me to see my Lesson Plan in a holistic way, the beginning middle and end, as well as, making sure to have assessment and an anchoring activity included throughout the lesson. I did mention one anchoring activity when groups were done but I forgot to mention what they would be doing while students were writing their ideas on the board. Having multiple anchoring activities is a great way to keep students focused and the noise level to a minimum.

UDL Assignment #2:
In this assignment, Andrew and I incorporated a student by the name of Melissa in to my Assignment #1 Lesson Plan. Creating this assignment made me realize how important it is to look at every aspect of teaching in a new and different way. It made me more aware of how I am conveying new ideas and information and how important it is to be aware of the learning styles and needs of my students. It made me realize that I need to take a more comprehensive look at my classroom dynamics during my upcoming practicum. This can be done during the first few days when I hand out a questionnaire to the class about how they like to learn, what they consider their strengths and weaknesses in learning, etc.

Also, the UDL assignment really made me look deeper in to how to provide multiple means of representation, action and expression and engagement. It also taught me not to be overwhelmed with all the different aspects of each category but to try to incorporate some aspect of each category in to each lesson. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

Summary of What I learned...

At the beginning of today's class we discussed the main things we got out of this program.

My top 5 are:
1. Telling students why they are doing what they are doing. Link it back to a main idea. In English, my two main ideas are: Understanding Perception (yours, and of others) and how it effects people and everyday life, Learning how to appropriately express yourself so that others can clearly understand and respect your opinion/thoughts.
2. Pre-Assessment: Making sure students are ready to learn what you are about to teach. Perhaps it is a review of last class or an activity that introduces the new topic in a fun and engaging way.
3. Letting students be in charge of their own learning: Whether it is giving them a choice between projects/assignments or if you allow top students to be in charge of their own homework. Another way to do this is to think/pair/share and allow students to teach each other/discuss the important ideas. This allows students to hear and learn things in a new way, a way that might actually be more applicable to them and their everyday life. That is what I most enjoyed about this summer institute--the time we were given to share our thoughts.
4. Anchoring Activities: Always have something for students to work on when they are done their work! This was something I had not prepared in the past and am hoping to be able to do so in my practicum. This anchoring activity should not just be 'extra work' but maybe something fun and applicable or a think/pair/share preparation activity.
5. Be A Leader: Don't be a manager but a leader. Lead by example. Be firm, but fair. Be orderly-flexible in your teaching styles. Have rules, follow through with them, but also allow some flexibility when appropriate.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011


Although we had an entire class on Assessment, I still had a hard time when I was actually marking my student's work. Today's class made me realize why that is: In my grade 11 class, I did not make the learning outcomes clear until the last two weeks of our time together. Near the end, I started asking the question "Why did we read this story? What did we learn?" So, when I was marking their work, I often was  not sure what I was marking for. Of course, I had an idea of what I wanted them to product but I didn't make it very clear to both them and myself what I wanted them to demonstrate to me that they had actually learned from class.

When it came to my grade 9 class, I had assessment down pat:
1. Students chose what their final project would be out of 4 choices
2. Students got in to their groups and created a rubric as to what they would be marked on. Then, students were told to go to their 'second' choice and add to the rubric that the first group had started. The teacher then made an official rubric for each project and handed them out to the students.
3. Every week they were required to hand in 1 page of their final assignment so the teacher could make helpful comments on it. The comments were under a column marked 'Done very well' and the other was 'Needs more work'. (Assessment For Learning)
4. In the 4th week students peer edited their final page for their assignment (so the teacher didn't give feedback, students did). Students based their feedback on the rubrics that had been decided in the beginning. (Assessment As Learning)
5. Students did a self-evaluation on their work before handing it in for their final mark. (Assessment As Learning)
6. Students then handed in their final assignment for marks. (Assessment Of Learning)

Each time I marked my grade 9's work I knew what I was looking for and so did they. However, when it came to my grade 11's, I did give them the KUDs of what I expected them to learn, other than, having vocabulary words that they needed to know and how to apply them to their reading/writing.

One thing UDL and DI has taught me is to make sure that I let my students know why they are learning the things they are learning and how it applies to them and life. I love English because it teaches students how to express themselves in a way that others will be able to understand clearly. I also love English because it teaches students about perception- how to understand their own and respect that of others. Therefore, I now know I need to link back every lesson to these two things so that I can provide a basis for their learning and so that they know why and how the things I am teaching relates to them in everyday life.

I should have made it more clear to my Grade 11s what I was assessing them on and, most importantly, WHY I was assessing them, not just relying on the 6 point writing rubric that the school had come up with and that each English teacher should mark from. The first step is making sure that I  know what I am assessing and then let them know before I give out the assignment. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Snuck a head...

During tutoring today I snuck a head in one of my textbooks and read chapter 8 which was about managing a differentiated classroom. I realize that we will not be addressing the chapter in class but, as the chapter states, classroom management is one of the things new teachers are both interested in and fear. The chapter had a lot of helpful ideas on how to manage a classroom and how to be a leader. Many of the things the chapter suggested were new to me and I thought they were really helpful. I made sure to highlight a bunch of helpful tips that I felt could help me in my classroom.

Classroom management is a course that I wish we had to take in our program. I honestly believe it is the key to succeeding. However, I have had many profs so that if you have an engaging lesson then students will pay attention and behave. But on the other hand, I think it is always important to have an entire tool belt to pull from when tough times occur. There are many instances in which you may think you have a fantastic lesson (for example, the lesson I chose to alter to adhere to UDL and DI practices) and it turns out that the lesson is in fact, not all that engaging. Thus, it is important to have many things set in to place.

I think that Classroom Management is something that should be given a little more attention in our Education Program for the upcoming years.

Some tips to remember in the future:
- The ultimate goal of education is to produce students who exercise self-control and independence as learners
- Classroom management is leading students and managing classroom routines
- Create an Orderly-flexible learning environment in which classes run smoothly but are characterized by looser structures and teacher's us a much wider range of instructional strategies
- Create learning situations that consist of low threat and high challenge, so that the learner feels confident and competent while being intrisincally motivated
- The learner is both relaxed and emotionally engaged int he learning and is willing to take risk in questioning.
- Use questioning strategies that trigger students to activate their higher cognitive processes as they study the contextually rich material of the cases they choose

Teacher's should always:
- Have a growth mindset so that they believe that each student int he class can and will learn what is necessary for success
- Respect for individuals
- Believing that each student is worthy of high-quality curriculum with a clear focus on student understanding
- stand in the door to speak briefly with students as they come into and leave the classroom
- paying positive attention to students who are often overlooked for subjects of negative attention
- Asking students to help develop class rules/guidelines
- Acknowledging both privately and in front of the class significant student or group contributions to the success of a task or class
- Taking a few minutes in class to share teacher stories and experiences with students and ask them to dot he same
- Using personal jorunals in class
- Learning about students' cultures and including them in the curriculum
-Calling or emailing parents with good news

A positive relationship is the basis of all effective discipline and encouraged educators to consider the impact of any single disciplinary strategy on the long-term relationship they have with their students.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Differentiation and Devices

I have been really interested in learning all about the assistive technology because my Aunt has severe Autism, in that, she is non verbal and easily gets frustrated. I have been in contact with my granny about the things we have seen in class and today we saw a lot of great objects which could help my aunt connect with other students. I have also been keeping in mind "Jimmy" and so far I haven't seen too much that could help him other than some of the computer programs. Jimmy and Trent actually used Inspiration to create our characterization map for one of the projects which was pretty neat to see. However, what they were able to do was very limited as compared to other students which was definitely a draw back when it comes to technology.

Cindi told us a story about a boy who holds auditions for the voice of his assistive technology and I thought this was a fantastic idea! Now here is a perfect way to get him to interact with other students and for others to interact with him! I absolutely loved that idea and would never have thought of it without hearing her story.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Are we helping our students learn when we differentiate their products?

My UDL and DI assignments have made me begin to struggle with this question: "When is it appropriate to Differentiate, and when isn't it?"

The problem I see, is that if we differentiate product, such as, a student who has a writing disability is allowed to sketch out a cartoon instead of writing a short story for a short story writing assignment. In this case, he is still able to show what he has learned from the unit but would be presenting it in a different format, therefore, his product would have been different from the rest of the class. However, how does this help him learn to write? Should we really be changing things to suite students 'needs' by not making them practice how to do something? I wonder if what the student really needs is a shorter, more condensed assignment which forces them to practice their writing skills because how else will they get better if they don't practice?

I almost feel like if you differentiate the product for a student then he/she will not get the practice he needs in order to do well and whatever issues he is having. If we don't make kids practice things I find if very unlikely that they will practice on their own; when they are not 'forced' to. 

This is not to say that I believe in forcing students to do something they can't, but I don't see how we can be helping them succeed when we are 'cutting corners' for them so that they can still do well in our course.

I guess the point is that you should not always differentiate the product for a student who has issues in one area, instead, you should differentiate sometimes when it is most appropriate for the student. Also, if you work with the student's strengths, they are more likely to get a good grade and get that extra confidence boost that they might need on the next project in which they may have to practice their weakness. Or, you could always require a student to practice something they are not good at in a project but mix that in with their strength and perhaps weigh their strength more in marking. For example:

Stephen has a hard to expressing himself in writing, however, he is very social and enjoys giving presentation.
The final assignment for a Novel Study Unit is to write a newspaper full of articles about the occurrences in the story.
Since Stephen is stronger in his verbal skills than his written skills, the teacher has allowed him to create a television news cast which discusses the important events in the novel as if they were really happening. Stephen must also hand in his notes for each broadcast for marks.

Total Assignment: 40 marks

Draft (Notes): 5 marks
Information Given: 20 marks
Creativity: 5 marks
Engagement: 5 marks
Expression: 5 marks

In this example, the draft is only worth 5 marks, where as, in the Newspaper Assignment the Draft of the newspaper might be work 10 or 15 marks. 

Smart Boards:

I have only seen a smart board here at UVic but we were finally able to see them in action. Some highlights of the smart board: Colour, Interactive, Touch Screen, Games, Magic Pen (which can hide things, zoom in, have a spot light) and it can transfer bad chalk board writing in to text (which is a must have for me). However, I felt that I didn't learn as much as I would have if I actually had the program in front of me so that I, too, could interact with the smart board. Watching her present just wasn't the best way for me to learn. 

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Assistive Technology... the way of the future?

The bulk of today's class was focusing on different assistive technologies and watching demonstrations on how many of them work. A woman with a visual impairment was able to use a program called Kerswell 1000 which read things aloud to her. Also, a gentleman with a physical impairment was able to use a program called Dragon which typed out the words he spoke in to a microphone. These technologies made me think about a lot of things.

a) These devices would be fantastic for students with learning disabilities in reading and/or writing. They could use these programs to help them express themselves, as well as, to understand or read text which is assigned in class. These technologies could really help non-literate students.

b) But then I thought... Is literacy needed in the future?
If we can have technologies such as these, do we really need to learn how to read and write if we can get computers to do it for us? Granted, you would need to know how to edit some of your work, however, maybe this would change the way language is used. Jaws is a program which takes scanned copies of things and reads them out. Also, we were show a 'pen' which scans pages upon pages of text and images. These items could be used to scan in books, newspapers, etc. and then the program can READ them back. So, why do we need to teach students how to read? 

I decided to ask some of my fellow students this question and it began a good dialogue. One classmate was saying that they enjoy escaping and reading is apart of that. She said that she doesn't think life would be the same without being able to read and lose yourself in a book. At the time I didn't respond, but now I think: can you not do that when someone is reading to you? Isn't that what happens when you are a young child and your parents read to you? Is it absolutely necessary that you actually READ something in order to be immersed in the story? It has been a long time since someone has read to me so I really don't know the answer.

I am an English Major, so this thought of future literacy is really interesting to me. It is all too obvious that technology literacy is the 'new big thing', so if we become technologically literate, will we be okay in the future? Will we soon rely on technology for reading and writing? Will signs soon just be symbols without words? Will a stop sign soon be a a solid red octagon with a white boarder? 

I truly wonder. That maybe, one day, only the 'learned' will be the ones who can actually read. Like doctors and Latin. Or, like web designers and CGI code. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

The Football

Today we discussed 'The Football' which is when you structure a class so that everyone starts together and then is separated in to groups and then they come back together in the end. This is something I did often with my grade 9 class but did not do very often in my grade 11 class. Perhaps, this is one of the reasons that my grade 9 class went better than my grade 11s.

Throughout this month of schooling, I am hoping to maybe find some answers as to why I felt my grade 9 class went so much better than my grade 11 class and I'm already starting to understand that.

In my grade 11 class, I had one student who hated it when we read stories as a class. He often would read it quickly on his own and then start doing something else (like listening to his iPod). This was frustrating to me because I often thought he was just not interested in the story but then found out he was actually ahead. Therefore, in my UDL and DI assignments I have chosen to allow students to read the story in groups according to reading ability and readiness. Therefore, for the higher-level readers, students may choose to read on their own and come together as a group to discuss the story while all the other groups finish up reading.

I also have decided that my UDL and DI assignments will have to be based on the same lesson because I honestly do not have time to pick apart more than one lesson, which is a shame, because I really wanted to have two amazing lessons to put in to my portfolio.


ESL is a very high area of interest for me. I have been tutoring ELL students for two years now and even took a course online on how to teach ESL. The online course, however, was not very helpful but I did feel it discussed a lot of the things we are talking about in class right now (except now we are talking about it in a lot more detail). So far, this summer institute has given me two different lesson planning approaches which can help me keep ELLs in mind. I honestly think I will be able to apply these to my future lesson plans. When I got 'out on the field' I felt like I had forgotten many of the things that I had learned. I was actually really excited to go back to class and review some of the things we have learned and to learn more. I am happy to say that I really do feel like it was worth it to take this summer institute because I am able to reflect on what happened during my practicum and apply what I am now learning to real-life situations that occurred.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Assistive Technology and My Group Presentation

Group Presentation:
My group was the first group to go. I felt like we were a little unprepared because we were not all on the same page of who was doing what when it came to the project. I really enjoyed facilitating the small group activity though. It was really great to hear the opinions of other English majors on how to teach a tough subject, like Poetry. I honestly wish we could do this more often! My group had a lot of great ideas and I think the whole class really understood Chapter 5 because of it. In our groups we were able to work through the chapter headings and realize how differentiation can come in to play even before you start presenting. Pre-assessment is one thing that I know I have not done so well in the past and this chapter really helped me understand how important it can be. Furthermore, it helped me to realize that I could create groups according to readiness (which previously I had just randomly selected my groups). This also re-itterates how important it is to KNOW YOUR STUDENTS so that you can appropriately place them in groups.

I also started to work on my paper that will be due in two Mondays. It was suggested to us that we could use the same lesson plan for the next two assignments. Although this might be 'easier', I feel like it would be better for ME if I did two DIFFERENT lessons so that when I go in to teaching I KNOW I have two very good lessons to teach. Therefore, I think I've signed myself up for some extra work in order to have two very useful lessons for my upcoming practicum.

Assistive Technology:

My Aunt is highly autistic and is non-verbal. This class really helped me to see how much she missed out on because of the lack of technology that was available to her when she was in school. Being able to link today's presentation with my Aunt in mind really helped me to see how important Assistive Technology is. Recently I saw a video about a non-verbal Autistic girl who learned to use a computer in order to speak. This is something I have recently brought up to my Granny to try to see if she can introduce this technology to my Aunt. Today, I was able to see how students who have physical disabilities could benefit from the use of switches.

Today's class also applied to Jimmy in a big way. I wish that Jimmy had been given a switch to push that would make a light appear so that I knew he had a question or an answer. Often, his EA would have to raise his hand for Jimmy but I think giving him a switch would have made it easier for him to participate. At first I thought a switch that made a sound would work but I could see how this could be embarrassing and distracting to other students. However, a light would be less obvious to other classmates but would be obvious enough for me so that I could call on him.

Today's lesson was all about learning how important it is for students to be able to take part in everyday activities in class, as well as, be independent and I think this would have been something Jimmy would have liked to be able to do for himself.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Group Project

First Class:
Today's class seemed to lay down the foundations for the course. While working in my group, it was interesting to hear other people's great ideas for our presentation on Friday. One of my group members suggested we apply what we have learned in the chapter to our specific content areas. We have decided to group our classmates in to their subject areas and allow them to pick a PLO to work with in order to go through a process which keeps readiness in mind. This allows us to apply what we have read and, hopefully, remember it more readily. In the last year, I have finally realized that I learn best from watching and doing and that I have a difficult time listening. I also find it easier to listen to someone who is explaining something specifically to me then listening to instructions given to the entire class. This is something that differentiated learning is all about-- recognizing that all students do not learn in the same way and making sure you incorporate different kinds of teaching in to EACH and EVERY lesson.

One thing I learned today is that you do not just have to differentiate the actual 'stuff' but you can differentiate how students get access to the stuff. Another thing I really liked about Chapter 5 was the helpful and USEFUL tips they supplied. I can't wait to do our presentation and be able to apply some of these helpful hints to my subject area. The application is really where I feel I will learn the most.

School Funding:
I was really surprised to hear how much money schools get per student and for ESL students and Aboriginal students. All I hear is about schools needing more funding but I feel like the amount is a fair amount. I understand that schools need money to run certain programs etc, but it just seems like a lot of money. Where does the money go? It makes sense that many of it might go to hiring extra help like speech therapists, special assessments  and EAs. The more we discussed it in class, the more the funding issues began to make sense to me so I can see how some people might argue that schools are getting enough funding, however, if they analyze the costs and needs they can see that there is still a big deficit in funding of Canadian schools.

People with Disabilities:

I was terribly saddened to hear how many persons with disabilities do not have jobs or income. This makes me think that one of the things that need to change is the way the WORLD thinks about people with disabilities. The movie we watched highlighted how hard it is for able and willing people to get jobs (I can understand how this could be that much more difficult now with the current economy issues). Unfortunately, these people apply and apply for jobs and are over looked because the interviewer only sees their handicap instead of their unique perspective. That is the way I want to teach my students, to learn about the unique perspectives these people can bring to a job place. In my grade 9 class we read the book "The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time" which is about a teenager with Aspergers. My students LOVED the unique perspective this main character had and they really enjoyed reading the book. This shows me that students have the interest to learn about different disabilities and are also able to pinpoint the unique perspectives these people may have.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Education Blog Baseline for EDD 425 and 487

We have just begun to skim the surface of Differentiated Learning and SETT in the last two days of classes. In order to create a useful final project for myself, I have decided to continue my Education Blog and discuss the diverse needs of the students I had in my practicum and how I tailored to their needs.  I then plan on applying the new skills I learn each day to these students in order to relate what I am learning to real life scenarios.
Jimmy * (Names have been changed for privacy reasons, of course)- Jimmy is a grade 9 student with Muscular Dystrophy.  He is confined to a wheel chair and has very little use of his hands. He is constantly tired and sore and lacks energy in class. He also relies heavily on the Education Assistant for help with his schoolwork. Jimmy is also unable to take notes during class but does enjoy reading from time to time.
Before I began my practicum I was told that Jimmy had been absent from school for a few months and would be coming to class on my first day, therefore, I was quite nervous and had no idea what to do to help him succeed in my class.  After my second week, I was made aware that it would be helpful if I had handouts for him and if I was able to keep extra hand outs in the classroom for students who were absent. I was surprised that I had not thought of this myself and honestly felt a bit foolish.
The only adaptation I incorporated in to my lessons for Jimmy was to make sure that the group he was in was always meeting by his desk so that he did not have to move around the classroom.
Looking back now, I wish that he had some sort of light or something that he could turn on so that I would know he wanted to answer a question. Our EA was very good at raising his hand for Jimmy but it would have been nice for Jimmy to be able to do something on his own.
Trent * - Trent was another grade 9 student of mine who had previously been pulled out of school because of his bad attitude. However, he was now working successfully in an integrated classroom setting. Trent had exhibited issues with writing and so had been given a school laptop to use during class to take notes. However, it became quite apparent that Trent was not taking notes during class and so the Education Assistant suggested I also give handouts to Trent.
Cale* - Cale was a student of mine who missed class and was not afraid to say that he had just decided not to come. He was very unorganized and did not hand in assignments on time. However, we had a fantastic working relationship and he often listened to my suggestions. I just wish I had ‘stayed on top of things’ better with him and encouraged his good work habits. Unfortunately, his final project was due on my last day there and I was quite disappointed when I saw it but was not able to follow up on it with him. Looking back now, he sometimes came early to class, and I should have taken that time to a) Help him organize his binder a little and b) discuss that weeks project/last weeks project with him to keep him on track.
As you can see, I felt very unprepared and had little experience with diverse students and was unable to appropriately cater to their needs. Therefore, I am overly excited to begin my learning journey in hopes that I can better assist my future students and help them succeed in my inclusive classroom.