Diversity and Pedagogy

Diversity and Pedagogy

Introduction

Education is an amenity which every child deserves. As such most children join school to learn, grow and develop so as to be intelligible individuals who can live fruitful lives. Classroom teaching brings together learners with different personalities, capabilities and behaviors. The teacher's fundamental role is to help learners not only to discover their capabilities but to also learn and develop particular skills. However, diversity within the classroom exists in regard to the types of students. It becomes evident that a teacher cannot apply similar instructional strategies for all learners. Students with learning disabilities have to be accommodated in such classrooms if they are to achieve the same successes as others. Mighty (2001) explains that teachers are constantly faced with the challenge of creating diversity in their classrooms. They are expected to teach for inclusion and derive interventions for those students with learning disabilities.

A learning disability is basically a condition whose origin is presumed to be of a neurological nature which leads to the interference of an individual's development, verbal and non verbal capacities among others. This paper seeks to create an understanding of such learner needs and their intervention strategies. In order to accomplish this, two case studies which display such existing disabilities will be analyzed. In doing so, educational needs, modifications for classroom practices and for school policies will be discussed as per the different students.

Darcey

Educational Needs

Darcey's educational needs include reading difficulties especially phonics and comprehension needs. Apart from these educational needs it is important to recognize the great gap which exists between Darcey's reading age and chronological age. This is one of the initial indicators of any existing learning difficulties. Reading difficulties is the general description which is inclusive of both phonics and comprehension problems. Darcey's phonics difficulties may include some of these tendencies. She may have problems remembering letters and sounds (Auditory Processing, 2010). Also she may experience difficulties while trying to apply various phonic rules during reading, spelling and pronunciation. It is evident that these difficulties with phonics have contributed to an overall comprehension problem. Comprehension difficulties may however also arise as a result of learner deficits which account for their inability to decipher meanings from the contents of reading (Fletcher, 2007 p. 185).

Modifications for Classroom Policies and Practices

In order to ensure that Darcey achieves success in the learning process, it is eminent that instructional strategies are either improved on or put in place to accommodate her learning difficulties. Swerling (2005) emphasizes that most phonic difficulties arise from the student's inability to decode words. Therefore instructional strategies for Darcey should incorporate ways of ensuring that she learns how to spell and verbalize letters and sounds correctly. One such crucial strategy is to incorporate phonemic awareness in the instructional objectives. Phonemic awareness instructions cultivate better phonological awareness with learners being able to gain apt word level reading skills (Bradley et al, 2002, p. 1999). While doing so, the teacher should include the teaching of sounds and encourage them to spell and write what they hear. Moreover, emphasis on certain problematic sounds should be done in spoken sound.

It is also vital that alphabetic decoding skills are taught to Darcey in order to allow her to understand the difference between particular sounds and letters. By concentrating on individual sounds, Darcey will be forced to pay close attention to the differences which exist. Including such particular strategies within the teacher's normal schedule implies that extra time must be set for extra instructions for the learner's with disabilities. Apart from this the teacher can provide Darcey with reading materials which suite her reading age and work with her in aiding her improvement. Differentiated instruction allows teachers to make provisions for such students and accommodate them effortlessly in their classrooms.

In regard to reading comprehension difficulties such practices can be put in place. Reading strategies include the use of pre reading activities which will aid comprehension of the texts (Nebraska Department of Education, 1996). Pre reading activities include the narration of stories which are related to the content and also having Darcey look at various graphic items. Pictures allow such learners to form mental connections which are significant in creating understanding. Explicit instructions are important in teaching students with diverse reading needs. In regard to improving comprehension, vocabulary should be explicitly taught to Darcey, This can be done by allowing her to point out difficult words while reading, writing them down and understanding their meanings before continuing with the reading process. This concept otherwise referred to as comprehension monitoring allows learners to make sense of the individual words which further contributes to overall comprehension. Another strategy which can help Darcey is getting assistance from her classmates. Peer assisted learning provides a viable environment for Darcey to learn from others and gain the needed motivation for reading.

Modifications for School Policies and Instructions

School policies have to be put in place or modified in order to accommodate students with learning disabilities. Apart from equipping teachers with adequate skills to do so, the school in general must make an effort to improve such learners' outcomes. Among such policies is the provision of adequate reading facilities for all students. Ensuring that learners have individual reading texts and guides will create a deeper interest for reading. It will also allow them to take books home where they can continue their reading with parents. Furthermore, a reading policy which engages both learners and their teachers will also help motivate learners with special needs (Benjamin, 2003, p.39). Curriculum development should also make sure that there are accommodating clauses for teaching instructions for students with learning difficulties. The creation of a learning strategies curriculum makes various teaching routines to teachers who in turn use them in their classrooms. Elbaum et al (2001) asserts that various instructional practices must be accommodated in curriculums in order to facilitate effective reading. Whole class instructions, group instructions and individual instructions will ensure that students with reading needs are attended to accordingly.

Milla

Educational Needs

Milla's educational needs are poor comprehension and mathematical difficulties. As opposed to Darcey's poor comprehension skills, Milla has very poor comprehension. This could mean that she is completely unable to understand content or even read adequately. Her reading age has vastly lagged behind creating great inconsistency. On the other hand, mathematical disabilities are inclusive of the incapacity for Milla to grasp mathematical concepts and arithmetic skills. Other deficits which can account for mathematical disability are attention, visual, auditory, memory and motor disabilities.

Modifications for Classroom Policies and Practices

Poor comprehension experienced by Milla can be accommodated in the classroom by making certain provisions. Apart from the previously discussed practices, Milla's needs should be addressed specially with the teacher providing one on one instruction. This sort of explicit instruction will allow the teacher to further understand Milla's problems. Furthermore, the teacher can provide Milla with learning materials which are in tandem with her reading age as opposed to exposing her to the overall classroom reading. The use of visual teaching aids not only aids comprehension but it will sire a need for reading in Milla. In reference to her poor comprehension it is evident that her interests in reading are quite low.

Mathematical disabilities in Milla's case could have emanated from her inadequate comprehension skills. Language deficiencies can result to a learner failing to understand particular mathematical concepts. It is thus crucial to aid the improvement of Milla's comprehension capacity before delving into her mathematical disabilities. Lienemann and Reid (2006) emphasize that students with special needs find it extremely hard to solve word problems. However, there are strategies which can be used to help improve her mathematical abilities. The teacher should ensure that explicit explanations are given to learners in regard to basic mathematical concepts. Such explanations will aid learners into forming a basis for the understanding of various mathematical concepts.

The graphical representation of mathematical problems also allows students with learning disabilities to grasp contents. This will greatly aid in the improvement of attention, memory and reasoning as learners are more susceptible to attractive images. The use of special equipment in mathematical teaching can also be used to accommodate Milla's mathematical disabilities (Kenyon, 2000).

The teacher can have a tape recorder and note taker accessible to Millie. This will guide her after a math's lesson is done to understand and recall what was taught in class. She will also learn how to connect various concepts from previous lessons. Within the overall classroom teaching, the teacher should ensure that concepts are taught systematically in an accumulative manner in order to avoid the mix up of ideas and concepts (Tomlinson, 1999). Also, allowing learners to verbalize mathematical formulae and procedures will elevate their levels of comprehension. The teacher can create extension time during math lessons to allow Milla time to catch up with the rest of the students. If not so, Milla can be subjected to group instruction with other learners who are experiencing similar difficulties.

Modifications for School Policies and Practices

Modifications for schools are inclusive of the previously identified practices for the improvement of reading capabilities in learners with disabilities. As for accommodating learners with mathematical disabilities, schools need to create remedial plans for such students as Milla who have difficulties working out mathematical problems. Remedial programs incorporate one on one guided instructions which can be very beneficial to learners. Furthermore, an expert system should be established in the school in order to make provisions for special guidance for such students. The creation of assessment strategies, implementation mechanisms and effective monitoring of practices will ensure an all round accommodation of learners' needs. Availability of mathematical instruction materials like strategy cards, calculators, tape recorders, and enlarged reading spaces are a responsibility of the school. Curriculum programs should be keen to make these provisions.

Hannah

Educational Needs:

writing difficulties

Modifications for Classroom Policies and Practices

Writing improvement strategies include the emphasis on comprehension needs. Without apt understanding of subject matter, learners will be unable to write effectively. As such teachers must create emphasis on the acquisition of competent comprehension. Graham and Troia (2003) assert that through individualized teaching such students like Hannah can receive specialized instructions which will elevate their understanding. Furthermore, the teacher can provide interesting and meaningful writing tasks to Hannah. Given an interesting subject, Hannah is bound to make logical connections of various events and occurrences and thus come out with a good material. Writing should be closely monitored by the teacher and solutions and corrections made immediately. Hannah can also be given regular writing assignments so as to improve her writing skills and build on her vocabulary. However, such assignments can be shortened in order to avoid overwhelming Hannah who already has a writing problem. Short tasks will allow her to grasp details better. Providing Hannah with ample reading materials can also build on her vocabulary and provide her with informational content to use in writing.

Modifications for School Policies and Practices

Modifications for school practices include the incorporation of diverse teaching strategies in the curriculum. Writing models can also be specified in the curriculum and this will make it easier for teachers to accommodate students with learning difficulties. Generally, the curriculum should be tailored in a way which caters for all learners. Writing programs which include various effective writing procedures can be implemented in schools. These are programs which follow regular steps in the generation of writing materials.

Michael

Educational Needs:

Language Difficulties.

Modifications for Classroom Policies and Instructions

Michaels poses a great deficiency which is bound to affect his learning. This is his incapacity to comprehend the local language. Modifications in the classroom are limited to providing instructions in the language which Michaels is conversant. However, this can prove to be difficult especially with the presence of other learners. Michael should be accommodated by having an interpreter in the classroom and allow for the communication of instructions. Despite this Michael's learning will still be impaired. Understanding and attentions should be shown to Michael to avoid feelings of alienation.

Modifications for School Policies and Practices

These endeavors will be the only permanent solution to Michael's problem. The school should have in place a language learning program for foreign students. Teaching them English within the schools will allow them to attend and follow lessons.

Miranda

Educational Needs:

Miranda does not possess any learning difficulties but may acquire some due to her behavioral tendencies.

Modifications for Classroom Policies and Instructions

Mr. Blank should impose regulatory measures for the behaviors students are exhibiting. In order to assure Miranda of her inclusion in the classroom, the teacher should engage her in classroom activities with other learners. Also it is vital to explain to them of the differences which people have and their need to respect such differences. Furthermore, both positive and negative reinforcement can be used in order to promote good behavior and cooperation in the classroom (Goldstein and Mather, 2001).

Modifications for School Policies and Practices

It is upon the school's mandate to ensure the overall discipline of learners. Policies put in place should heighten their restrictions for bullying of learners and severe punishments guaranteed. In addition, activities which enhance collaboration amongst students should be incorporated in extra curriculum activities so as to prevent student isolation. Guidance and counseling services can also be made available to Miranda to help her cope with any emotional problems emanating from the bullying.

The above discussion has detailed the analyses of various case studies showcasing the diversity which exists in teaching.

References

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