Saturday, January 30, 2010

Action Research

For my action research project I am focusing on improving the spelling skills a 5th grade special education student. It has been a lot of fun designing this intervention and the student has responded incredibly well to the intervention. I called the Project " Two Times". What happens is the students get repeat spelling instruction twice a day for 10 to 15 min. the second session of the day is always a repeat activity from the day before so it reduces the transition and understanding time of the activity. It seems like it has worked out very well and i have now had to change my Design model from ABA to AB because I am teaching this student every day for the rest of the year and to now take away the intervention when he is having such great results would be crazy. Since we have control of our research I thought it was the only fair way to treat the student. One part of the research that I am still playing with is how in depth the second session needs to be to have effectiveness. I have kept it consistent for this study but think it would be nice to test at ome point how much of the second session is needed. I will save that for next time. All is well in the land. Blessings

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Classroom Diversity - Chapter 2

Diversity in the classroom is inevitable. The wonderful thing about working in the special education world is that education is a little bit more individualized than the general education classroom. Even though the diversity in special education might be greater than a normal classroom, it is more individualized. In special education classrooms student's ages and abilities vary immensely. With IEP's and smaller Special Ed classroom containing only 3 to 10 students, teachers are able to focus on individualized level learning.

In the special education classroom I currently work in I see a wide range of students. We have ten year old and twelve year old. Some of the children are very close to grade level intelligence and other are considered MR with limited intelligence skills and often even more limited social skills. The one great thing is that the classrooms are so small we are able to really focus on giving each student. This kind of one on one teaching gives the students the best chance of understanding subjects. The lesson plans vary for each student. We alter lesson plans and testing so that students have the most appropriate ways to show their knowledge.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Math Chapter 1 &13

Chapter 1 was a quick review about assessment and effective teaching methods. The part that I liked was about student involvement in activities. I like how the book stated that if the students have nothing to do, they will find something, and most likely it will be something we do not care for as educators. I notice this concept both in the classrooms I help in and the time I spend with students teaching activities. My goal is to keep them engaged in the lessons. Whether it is a fun lesson or not isn't the issue. Hopefully I am finding exciting ways to teach, but the big issue is that the appropriate material is taught. Teachers can try to make their classes fun, but can miss the academic goals for student enjoyment. I am trying to find the balance where I work. Free time for the students right now is not working out well. The social skills in the classroom are not well developed and often any free time turns into arguments. So I have reduce almost all free time and am giving only very direct free time activities like math and reading games until the Students develop a more appropriate manners.

Chapter 13 was a about, Effective Practice. I found a number of the math card games appropriate for the classes I help in currently. It is nice that the book gives so many example games for the Students. We are currently working on adding and subtracting fractions. The scavenger hunt games are nice ways to make this tougher subject a little more manageable.

Everyone take care,
Ryan

Saturday, January 2, 2010

Writing and Reading Chapter 8:

In response to chapter 8 of this weeks reading. I thought the book did a great job of discussing a number of ways to improve children's writing skills. In the fifth grade class I assist in we focus on building vocabulary and reading, but often skip out on writing sections. Each week we do a creative writing project based off of the reading story for the week. I like how the book gives a direct correlation between reading and writing. One of the ways I learned to write was through reading. Reading helps a person to understand sentence structure and how to build the composition of a story. The book put a nice emphasis on children reading stories and writing about them.

I thought the activities spoken of such as journal with a partner or teacher were great ways of modeling writing for the students. The journal also lets the children write in a free dialogue that might make it easier to compose their thoughts. The collaborative writing section gave me a number of ideas to work with for my student teaching.

The section I would like to use is the Change a Word, Change a Sentence. This is an easy way to show how sentences are structured. It displays the sentence and allows the children to come up with alternate words for the story. This type of activity would help in the classroom because the students I work with cannot write a complete sentence. Having the students both reading the sentence and focusing on how the sentence could be changed is a great way to model sentence composition for this group of students. The difficulty with the special ed group I work with is that a few of them are very poor readers. They struggle to know the basic sight words and have a hard time with decoding and blending. This puts a tough spin on writing. The students who struggle with reading and phonics have a difficult time writing. One way that could make things a little easier for their learning would be to do more modeling of sentences separate from a story. Allowing the children to focus, one sentence at a time. While teaching the students about proper gramar and tenses. I thought the book gave a number of technniques and activities that will be useful in teaching...

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Article Reviews

Based on articles #1 and #2:
What are the social and mental implications for children with learning disabilities?
The mental and social implications for children with LD's is that these children can be and are effected by a number of emotions and self concepts that isolate and frustrate them from having normal happy lives. Children with LD's can suffer from anxiety, depression, and low self concept. This makes it difficult for the children to have self worth and engage with other children. The children suffer from feeling stupid, incapable of learning, frustrated, and depressed. These emotions separate the children from social activities and developing normal social skills.

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. One of the ways that teachers I had dealt with children with LD's was to include them in group work and peer tutoring or partners. This was a nice way for children with LD's to be involved in the classroom and be included in activities. This strategy also freed the teachers from having to be constantly over the shoulder of certain students.

How will you refine your practices to address the social needs of students with disabilities? There are a few areas in which I would focus on social skills and acceptance. First would be to build teams or partners in the classroom for children to work together and develop communication skills. As well I would praise students strong skills so the class knows that each person brings has positive traits. Letting the class know what a person is good at makes them more accepted among peers. Lastly, model good social skills and personal skills with the class; proper manners; kindness; tone of voice; acceptance of each individual.

Based on Article #3:
How has the evolution of medical technology changed the way we look at disabilities? The evolution of technology has allowed researches and doctors to pinpoint certain learning disabilities and malfunctions of the brain. By being able to determine low functions in certain areas of the brain doctors are able to determine if disabilities such as dyslexia could be present and the earlier any disability is diagnosed the earlier intervention can be used to help overcome the disability.

What implications will this new outlook have on teaching and mandated legislation?
Legislation can provide more money for testing as well as providing programs and strategies to teach children with LD's. Research has already led to effective ways to teach reading, including a focus on phonetics, and patterns of reading that effect certain areas of the brain. Teachers will be able to provide alternate lessons for children with certain disabilities to best suit their learning.

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

List some of the issues surrounding this topic? The articles discussed a number of issues that both states and school are facing when dealing with students from different cultures and linguistical origins. The major issue is how to compare students when the majority of the tests are in English and this might not be the students first language. Majority of schools in the US only teach in English and for a immigrant student who cannot speak English schools might assume they are LD when they need to be taught in their original language. The second significant issue is that each state has their own assessment for learning disabilities. There is no federal assessment to determine the LD standards and so there can be varying degrees from state to state. This State assessment becomes blurry given the diverse culture in the US.

Discuss how legislation has attempted to ameliorate this problem: The government has used legislation to try and provide fair and equal representation of each race while trying to deter states from using assessment tools that are inaccurate in their evaluation of different racial populations in special education.

Describe the problem as you see it: The problem is that there might not be enough true data on each section of children with learning disabilities form different cultures and languages. Because we are an English speaking country and most likely will always be, we expect people to conform. I believe that conforming is fine, but there must be a justifiable transitional stage that includes minorities and English language deficient students to be included into our free public education. To provide that transitional stage you must have a national assessment of each cultural group that best represents the groups needs for education to move towards inclusion in English speaking classrooms whether it be Gen Ed or Special Ed. There must also be a move for the correct representation of each cultural or racial group within special education.

Make a suggestion…What is the solution as you see it? Provide education for each culture and race as best possible. If that means providing education in Spanish during a transition to English then that might be a start to finding and appropriate standard for cultural education in America. My thought is that most of the non-English speaking students are not stupid, they just cannot speak or read the English Language.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Children Learn to Read

In response to the Article:
The article gave a good review of the two different types of basic reading instruction. In my current job assisting at the Charter school we use a combination of both whole and phonics based reading. This is with a 5th grade Special Ed classroom and the students are very low readers. The instruction is based on phonics. We work on the students learning long and short vowel sounds and blending the sounds in words. We use a number of activities including sight words flashcards and a game called chunks which gives the first few and last few letters on different cards and the students have to match the cards to make real words. This helps them practice sounding out the words and decoding the letters. The students due well with the phonics portions. As well as the phonics lessons we have a weekly story that we read together as a class four or five times. We listen to the story each morning, and then the students practice reading the story aloud to the teacher or in groups where they can help one another sound out words. We place advanced readers with lower readers. The blending of these two techniques works well and the students have shown considerable improvement in their reading this year. I believe that building a foundation with the phonics is the best way to introduce children to learning their letters, sound, and how to read.

In response to the Video:
I watched the video on Mapping the Brain where the researcher spoke on the correlation between brain activity and dyslexia. If this type of testing is truly effective it will be nice to see children's learning disabilities caught at a younger age and the appropriate interventions can be used to correct reading difficulties. It is amazing that only a millisecond of delay in the hearing of a sound can cause such a difficulty with reading. It makes sense as our brain's decode and analyze so quickly that any delay can cause confusion and disorder in understanding.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Missunderstood Minds Homework Questions

Additional Comment: Response to homework Questions

a. The simulation made you feel confused. It was difficult to concentrate on the task and really difficult when additional distractions were added to the mix. The simulations gave you a good understanding of just how difficult it is to perform an easy task when you are distracted or unable to focus.

b. The conclusion would be that children with disabilities will need clear instructions, given at a pace that is understandable. Asking the child if they understand the instructions and if they have questions about the task. As well, teaching at the level of the student.

Thanks,
Ryan