A Penny For Your Thoughts

A Penny For Your Thoughts
Something to contemplate as you study to be a teacher

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Math: Chapter 2: Classroom Diversity

I think that the first few pages of Chapter 2 gave a nice brief overview of how classrooms have started to change over time into more inclusive classrooms. All of the classes in the Masters in Special Education program I have been in so far has touched on the subject of laws and new regulations that have been passed regarding the rights of students with special needs and how even regular education teachers need to learn how to teach these students. I think that this chapter gave a nice overview then moved on to discussing suggestions for teachers in the area of diversity.
I really enjoyed reading the information on learning style preferences. This is probably the basis of all lesson plans I would imagine. Even though there have been so many changes to curriculum and lesson plans from when I was in school, I remember discussing and talking about learning style preferences. I believe without a doubt that all of us have different learning styles. Personally I learn visually and need to see what I'm learning for it to be understood, for this reason, PowerPoint's were always my best friend. I believe that as teachers we need to adapt our lessons in order to include many different learning styles into one lesson. I think that sometimes this could be time consuming and confusing, because of having to remember and teach lessons the way that each student in the class needs to be taught, but it can be so beneficial in the long run. If you don't do this the first time around you may spend several lessons reteaching the original lesson for students that don't understand it the first time it is taught a certain way, that right there would be more time consuming than accommodating the students in the first place, in my opinion.
The next section I enjoyed reading as well. This section was on Low Cognitive Abilities. I work with special needs children right now in the classrooms, but as their TSS and not their teacher, but I still see some of the same points made in the book. My clients often times get overwhelmed with too much information in a lesson and will have a meltdown, because it is hard for them to only focus on one out of many unless it is broken down. This was a suggestion made by the book and I fully agree without a doubt in my mind. I also liked the suggestion to use more developmental activities and also to use aids. What an excellent idea! I know that it is easier for me when learning new concepts to be able to link it to concepts already learned, this is true for my future students as well. Allowing work to be completed with partners as well is another great point. I deal with a lot of behavioral problems in my line of work and one thing that has been repeated and repeated to me is how important it is for my non-typical clients to be around typical kids for modeling and help with their behaviors. If it is true for behaviors then I am sure it is true in academics as well.
All in all I enjoyed the chapter mostly because I LOVE MATH and cannot wait to teach it one day!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Math: Chapters 1 and 13

I may sound like the biggest nerd with this next statement: I love Math and hope to one day teach it! I have enjoyed math ever since I was a little girl. I used to sit at my dad's desk in third grade and ask my papers to make up a multiplication speed test for me to practice taking for school the next day : ) Even though there are positives and negatives to giving speed tests, every child is different in the way they learn math. We began to discuss in class how some people say "I am just not a math person". In my eyes when I hear this I hear a voice of someone that didn't have a motivating and encouraging instructor when it came to math. Everyone is capable of learning math, but it lies in the teacher's responsibility to instill the motivation in their students to learn it.

Even though the above statements are opinion and a little off topic from the reading the reading really motivated me to say the statement and to want to learn more ways to teach math to all students. I like how the chapter readings broke up the different activities into categories (developmental, practice, application, and assessment). I think that this is an awesome way to look at the ways we teach math and to remember to base our activities off of this model to make them as productive as possible at meeting the learning objectives. I also like how it broke assessments down and all the many ways teachers can assess. It is hard to break the habit of always giving paper and pencil tests to check for understanding and application, at least I think it is because I feel this is always what my teachers did growing up. For me, and the love I have for math, I cannot wait to apply these concepts to my classroom.

Of course my favorite part of the reading were all of the examples for practice activities. I really like to see students getting up and moving around especially kindergarteners and first graders. They never seem to want to sit in their seats anyway and definitely lose interest quickly if they are made to do this all day. The lessons that required the students to get up and move around such as match me, round we go, and line up. I am definitely going to use these in my classroom one day. I have found in the past year while being in the classrooms that the more the kids get to get up and actively engage in an activity the better behaved they are and the more they learn. My favorite of all the examples was round we go. I could almost see my kindergarteners doing this with shapes as I was reading. Again, being able to apply reading a text to real life examples really brings it into focus for me and motivates me even more as a teacher, because I know one day I will be able to use all these fun activities in my own classroom : )

Gipe (2010) Chapter 8 and 9 Response

Chapter 8 gave a very concise run down of the importance of literacy in particular reading/writing. It discussed the connections between the two and the importance of including both together in the classroom. I really enjoyed reading about the importance of collaborative lessons in reading and writing. In particular I liked all the ideas presented on writing such as: Write a sentence/make a story, add a word/stretch a sentence, change a word/change the sentence, add a paragraph/write a book, and dialogue journals. I can see by reading these ideas how students would enjoy working together as a group on a writing lesson. I will definitely keep these in mind for my future classroom. The one that I thought was the most interesting is the dialogue journals. That is such an interesting one on one approach, because they are using writing to communicate with the teacher at the same time they are learning to be better readers! What a great idea. Also in chapter 8 were discussions on structures and unstructured writing activities. I think that teachers can get so caught up in meeting the standards that we forget to allow student to take the time to just write for fun and not for a lesson, this is o so important to keep in mind! I am currently in another class in which I have to teach the writing process to 2nd graders and I found the layout of this in Chapter 8 extremely helpful! The section on spelling was fun to read because I TSS a third grader currently that has a spelling list every week and different activities along with it. It was interesting to read about teaching ideas for spelling and to compare that to what I am seeing my third grader do now. Some of the same ideas in the book are used for her spelling and some are still like the past, where she has to copy her words 3 or 5 times each....I hated that in school!

Chapter 9 was packed full of information on word recognition. I never really thought about the connection between listening vocabulary and reading vocabulary when it can to meaning. I found it so interesting to look at it in this way in order to help students to not only pronounce the word currectly, but to also find meaning in the word through context or in research. I like how it broke down the parts of the chapter and included assessments, instructions, and examples. These all can be made useful in my future classroom. I really especially enjoyed reading the part about the use of context clues. I have worked in a kindergarten classroom for a year now and these is used all the time in both the classrooms I worked in. The picture walk is the best example of this. For me, being able to connect experiences I have had in the classroom with the chapter text brings it to life and helps me to plan what instructional methods I would like to use in my classroom one day. In another class I also am working on writing a phonics lesson to teach and I enjoyed reading about the knowledge of word parts section because it pertains to this. It gave a nice brief overview that I can consult along with my text from my other class.

All in all the chapters had so much information in them I could write about it for a long time, but above I have stated what stood out the most and caught my eye, the rest will also be useful for many different lessons in my future classroom.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

Teaching Children to Read

Response to Chapters 5, 6, &11:

Chapter 5 was an overview for me. I took a statistics and research class in undergraduate school for psychology and now I am in an educational research class. I also have taken the Assessment and Instruction class to that goes over the different assessments and ways of scoring them. It was a nice review of already learned material.
Chapter 6 was eye opening. I never really paid much attention to just how much assessment and tests are given to students until reading this chapter. Informally as a TSS my job is to observe my client in the classroom, and often times I find myself observing the other students and making mental notes of repeated occurrences. Even though I am not the teacher and it is not my job, it’s hard not to notice the other students. As a teacher I can see how important it is to have informal assessment as well as formal assessments to base decisions off of. The decisions made are life changing and shouldn't be taken lightly. This chapter gave me an overview of many assessments that I will one day use in my classroom such as IRA’s and cloze procedures as well as observations and surveys. I really enjoyed the part on interest inventories and creative ways they can be used in classrooms. Seeing real life examples of the techniques is what helps me to visualize uses these techniques one day.
Chapter 11 was a chapter that I really dove into. As a child I had skills lacking in reading comprehension so I could relate to a lot of the examples given in the book. One example that was given in the factors affecting comprehension was syntactics. After reading this section it reminded me so much of the issue that I had. I had a hard time related the information in order to answer questions based on context clues. I also had trouble with semantic knowledge that involves relating concepts and ideas in the story. I know that I am not alone on these difficulties and that I will encounter some of my own students one day struggling with these issues. This is a whole other reason to study about learning disabilities in order to be able to help my students that are struggling one day.

Response to Article:
I work in a kindergarten classroom everyday and never really thought about how each curriculum was taught until now. Since I have read this article I realize that the classroom I work in uses a balance between the two main approaches to teaching reading. She not only does works sheets and activities with letter sounds and combinations of letters, but she also gives them an opportunity to learn what words mean throughout the day, write their own stories and dictations to pictures, but free time to read as well. I like the combination of the two approaches, because not every child learns to read the same way and one way may work better for some than others.
I also think that early intervention is an important aspect in being a teacher. You are with the children in an academic setting the most and will most likely be the first to notice, when there are problems along with the parents. This is a great opportunity for early childhood education teachers and elementary teachers to get the ball rolling if there is a problem. With quick checks and other assessment tools problems in reading can be identified earlier and interventions can begin earlier. This gives the children that are struggling and opportunity to find ways to get up to speed earlier that may help them later if they encounter more problems as the progress through the grades. Good tools can be utilized to help these children prepare for strategies that can be used later as well.

Response to video:
Reading and the Brain: Rewiring the Brain
This video discusses research bring done using fMRI and MEG to measure activation in the brain while reading. They found that a little boy with dyslexia had a higher activation level on the right side of the brain than on the left side. Once an intervention began on teaching him reading by rewiring the brain to use the left side more, his reading skills increased. I think that this study is a great study and it gives us a medical view of a learning disability phenomenon. There is no absolute reason as to why a child has a learning disability, it could be contributed to many different things, but this is another tool that can be used along with other assessments given to diagnose LD. As the doctor said in the video, we don’t need to jump to conclusions and only use this imaging to diagnose dyslexia, but it is another tool that can be used. This article reminded me a lot of the article in the module that discussed fMRI. I think that further studies are needed to determine the best use for these practices in the aid of diagnosing dyslexia.

Module for December 9th Class

Based on articles #1 and #2:
1.What are the social and mental implications for children with learning disabilities?
There are five basics points that are made in the first article that link social and mental implications in children with LD. They are listed here: 1. LD may lead to emotional distress. Some examples include low academic self concept, depression, anxiety, and different attempts to cope. 2. LD may exacerbate existing emotional concerns. Some examples include ineffective social behavior, resulting sadness and anxiety. 3. Emotional issues may mask LD. Some examples of this include physical ailments or complaints, acting out, and distracting the teacher. 4. Emotional concerns may intensify LD. Some examples of this include escaping school, trouble at home, and organic interaction. 5. Emotional health can enhance school performance of students with LD. Some examples of this include effect of positive feelings, learning about LD, and A “can do” attitude.

2.Think back to when you were in school. What strategies do you remember teachers using (academic or behavioral). Think about how a child with a Learning Disability would respond to these strategies. Explain and comment.
Timed math tests were a strategy I remember taking part of in the third grade. I don't have a learning disability, but these tests gave me major anxiety, because the peers in my class were always so competetive on who got done the fastest. The teacher as well wanted students to complete the test in the alotted time and was very dissapointed if this was not accomplished. If I had a learning disability it would have been horrific. The anxiety that children with disabilities have in everyday classwork would be ten fold if they had to complete the task even faster. It would be missery and probably cause a lot of behavioral issues. Another strategy used was reading aloud in class by going around the room and each taking a turn. This was frustrating for me even because I was a slow reader. For a student with a learning disability that mixed up words and had a really hard time reading this would be mortifying. I can only imagine sitting in the class and hearing all the giggles from the other students when the student with learning disabilities struggles. Embaressment and ridicule could really depress and anger any student.

3. How will you refine your practices to address the social needs of students with disabilities?
The biggest refinement I will make to my practices is more of an overall attempt at understanding and being sensitive to at all times LD student. To continually keep my EYES OPEN for issues that I can intervene in before it spirals out of control. By establishing a mentality in my classroom of safety and support I will teach my students to respect one anothers differences and promote team work as a whole. The students should learn to compliment one another and help one another without poking fun and being disrespectful to one another. This is not an easy task because of pressures on students today to fit in and be the best in the class. But, it is something that needs to be addressed and that I will always strive for. Acheivements in good work will always be a classroom effort and rarely an individual effort. Hopefully this will help my students with LD that feel inadequate or frustrated to feel that the room is a safe and happy place that they can ask questions and come and talk to me or other peers about what they may need to help them.

Based on Article #3:
1.How has the evolution of medical technology changed the way we look at disabilities?
By using medical technology such as the fMRI (functional magnetic resonance imaging) researchers have found that as children’s skills in reading increase, there is more activity in the left side of the brain and more suppressed activity in the right side. They have also found different parts of the brain that are used during sounding out words and recognizing familiar words. Another study found the children first starting to acquire reading skills that were lagging in skills compared to those that were acquiring the skills had less activity in the left side of the brain and had more activity in the corresponding right side of the brain.

2.What implications will this new outlook have on teaching and mandated legislation? The conclusion of the research had made it look like that a child that doesn’t learn by means of phonics and phonemic awareness will lack in reading skills, and that those that did lack in reading skills improved their skills when given and intense intervention by using phonemic and phonics instruction. The believe that by funding more research in this area the high rates of literacy in childhood and adulthood will decrease as more interventions and instruction can be found to help this. The research also believes that with more research earlier diagnosis of reading problems can be found. They are also trying to find genetic or environmental contributions to reading problems. These research findings in my opinion could have an effect on legislation by mandating certain curriculum by means of research on the brain, genetic research, and environmental research. This could change the way that teaching occurs and make the way reading is taught more confined and less creative. It will be hard to move away from the curriculum creatively, if the legislation ends up telling teachers what to teach and how to teach it based on research findings.

Based on Article #4 and #5:
1.The disproportionate representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse children in special education is a significant issue in education. After reviewing the article:

a.List some of the issues surrounding this topic?
One major issue is in evaluation criteria for culturally and linguistically diverse children for special education. Every state has their own way of evaluating criteria in regards to this to add to federal law criteria for learning disabilities. When cultural, social, behavioral, and past experience is added into the mix for determination of LD, the decisions almost become objectified based on the opinions of the team. There is no sound way to measure this added criteria. Also when comparing different rates of LD students in certain cultures there is no absolute measurement that measures what is being asked of us to measure. By comparing rates of cultural students to white students, then white students can’t be measured up to another type. Also, with many different cultures being represented differently throughout the nation, white students may be of the minority in some schools than others. Another issue is whether to compare IQ tests to level of achievement. Many IQ tests are in English which makes it difficult to measure intelligence of English as a second language learner. An IQ tests in their first language should be given to measure their intelligence accurately.

b.Discuss how legislation has attempted to ameliorate this problem
Legislation has attempted to ameliorate these problems by eliminating the use of some assessment tools in decision making for African American students. They also tried to fix this problem by focusing more on the educational programs and procedures instead of overrepresentation data. Legislation has also caused the schools that have disproportional data on culturally and linguistically diverse children to be monitored for change in procedures to reduce these discrepancies. The main assumption being made is that this issue is a race issue and the white students are underrepresented in special education.

c.Describe the problem as you see it
The problem as I see it is like many other problems that don't have one clear solution. Not only does curriculum need looked at and the way reading is taught, but also the assessment tools used to measure abilities and intelligences, along with outside variables such as poverty and experiences. By looking at the whole picture and not just the parts there can be a better understanding as to why this discrepancy is occuring. I don't think that, in general, trying to fix the inequality is the answer. I think that there may very well be an unequal amount of low literacy rates between all cultures. We are all different in color and culture and just because you are from a different culture doesn't mean that you should be sized up compared to different cultures. Maybe THERE ARE just more cultures with lower literacy rates compared to whites just because that's the way it is. Maybe they are just born that way. I may be sounding racist, but I'm trying to sound just the opposite by saying that children in special education shouldn't be compared by cultures and color. We all have different abilites and intelligence.

d.Make a suggestion…What is the solution as you see it?
Like stated in the last question, I believe the solution is a mix of things. I think that the whole picture needs to be assessed and not just one part of it to fix this inequality. In my eyes, I think that in some ways we may find that the inequality has nothing to due with culture, but everything to do with individualization. Everyone has different abilities and intelligences and just because they are from another culture doesn't mean that they are being overrepresented. Maybe that is just the way that they are and we need to focus more on helping them get up to speed than comparing why they are there in the first place.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Misunderstood Minds Simulation Response

My experience during the simulations was quite interesting. I never thought that through a few short exercises I would get a small glimpst of what it feels like to be a child with a learning disability. I only have one word to describe the overwhelming feeling that I felt during the simulations, and that is: FRUSTRATION. I am not even that child struggling with this disability everyday, but I was so frustrated and irritated when I couldn't keep up, or figure out the answers. Ordindary problems, and activities I take for granted because they come so easy to me, would be the source of great frustration for children with learning disabilities.
It is quite interesting that they could come up with such a creative way for people to experience what it is like. I have worked with a few children now that have the diagnosis of ADHD as a TSS. Until now I could never even come close to understanding why they got so frustrated or defeated with such a small amount of work in school and for homewrok. The particular area of the simulations that gave me insights into their experiences was the Attention one. For once I can say that I only got a glimpst of what that feels like for them, but can understand that after dealing with that everyday, how that could lead to such meltdowns. Their tantrums may be extreme at times, but at least I can understand where the sense of frustration emerged.
As a teacher I believe these simulations could give really good implications for changes in the classroom. One change is that way a lesson is taught and what modifications could be used. By experiencing what a child experiences a teacher could think of ways to make activities and lessons more engaging for the child and less distracting. Some ways may also be to think of ideas that would help one childs situation independently, because all children's disabilities are unique from others with the same disability. By having a student describe what it is like for them to experience different things in the classroom. A teacher could modify accordingly to help that particular student. Being able to experience these simulations first hand has given me a personal perspective into what it is like to have a learning disability and those experiences come at a rarety, when you do not have a diagnosis of your own.