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Posts Tagged ‘differentiated learning’

In New Zealand’s state schools, teachers are increasingly faced with larger class sizes, a diverse range of learning and behavioural needs and the requirement to include special needs learners into the classroom environment.

Although ORS students tend to come with a teacher aide (although not 100% of the time), the expectation remains that we will find ways to include special needs students into mainstream classes. Sometimes this can be to meet social needs, other times academic goals and sometimes a mixture of both – although not generally to levels we would expect of mainstream students.

This year I’ve been trying to find quick and easy ways to provide bespoke tasks so that a teacher aide supporting a Student with autism can do so in a meaningful and age appropriate way.  At 14, Student X is keen to have work that in some way resembles what is peers are working on.

This term that involved a novel study of Fleur Beale’s Slide the Corner.

Based on the novel’s content, I devised a series of lessons using Microsoft’s Learning Tools to provide a series of bite sized lessons for X to work on while we focussed on essay writing.

Using a picture of a Lego car,  the Student began by labelling car parts on a paper handout:

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Then, with his aide’s help, he completed a cloze paragraph filling the gaps with words from a word bank to write a paragraph about the main character, Greg

Step e

Finally, using the same syntactical structure, he was then prompted to complete a paragraph supplying similar details details about himself.

Step f

I then copied and paste the word document into a OneNote in X’s Class Notebook.

That’s when the real fun began! Using Immersive Reader, the paragraphs were read back to him.

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At this point, Student X’s expression was one of sheer incredulity. He was simply delighted to hear “his” work read aloud. I showed him and the teacher aide how to adjust the gender and speed of the speaker (he was similarly enthralled by the tortoise and hare icons).

Finally, I demonstrated to the aide and student how to use the dictate function. This allowed X to tell the computer what to type. X was asked to tell the PC what he thought about the lesson – a very basic reflection as his processing is pretty much surface level so he has a very literal world view. We discussed his response verbally first.

I’m  hopeful that both the student and aide will use these amazing Learning Tools again – at least in English but also other subjects too. (The only issue we had was that some of the school laptops had not been updated to run Windows 10  a- simple fix but it pays to check first to ensure microphones are accessible.)

 

step 3

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9BM are a diverse range of learners, several with high literacy needs. I’ve been dreading the end of novel essay knowing how hard it would be for many of them.

Last year I used Immersive Reader and Learning Tools with a student with behavioral and literacy needs to keep him engaged so this week, adapted that approach for literary essays.

Initially I planned to use this strategy with one student but at the end of Monday’s lesson, became aware there were at least another two students who would benefit from the heavily scaffolded approach developed using Dictate, Editor Pane, Read Aloud and text highlighting functions as well as Class Notebook to distribute the “lesson” to students.

Here’s how I broke it down for them (this took me one 30 minutes break to set up).

As a class we brainstormed ideas about our character and wrote an introduction together. Using Office Lens I took photos off the white board and sent the files to One Note then copied them into our Class Notebook. This is helpful for revision at the end of the year as well as being accessible for the two students who were absent that day.

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class brainstorm

 

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annotated collective introduction

Instructions were then shared with the two students who needed support by using the Distribute Page function in Class Notebook.

Step 1

Students typed the introduction into a One Note in their own folder.

step 1

Step 2

Students finished sentences for each of the paragraphs in the essay.

 

Step 2

Step 3

Students then had to go back and highlight the S.E.X. and Y sentences in their first body paragraph. This was so they could show me they understood the function of each sentence in the paragraph.

 

Step 3

Step 4

Students copied and paste the paragraphs to lower down the page, took out my instructions and backspaced to run the sentences into paragraphs.

 

Step 4

Using Read Aloud, they listened to their essay read aloud and corrected any wrong/missing words.

Step 5

They then copied and paste into a word document and, using the Editor Pane were able to see any spelling and grammar errors and correct as needed.

 

Step 6

Finally, they printed their finished essays and have filed away for later use.

We used a quiet space outside the classroom while the rest of class worked from the board using starter sentences. The students had to hold the laptops close and speak clearly when using Dictate. Some of the words were typed incorrectly but with Read Aloud, it was obvious where the wrong words were (drain for dream for instance).

Hopefully now my students are familiar with the tools used they’ll become more confident at using them independently.

To finish the lesson I played back one of the student’s essay to the rest of the class, using that as an opportunity to boost her confidence and show the rest of the class how to use Immersive Reader and the Editor Pane.

I believe these students gained a sense of satisfaction from the process and one in particular felt a huge sense of achievement. She can’t wait to show “her” essay to her parents tonight.

#winning

 

 

 

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If you’ve been following the news lately, you’ll be aware that secondary school teachers are seeking an improvement in teaching and learning conditions in New Zealand schools. One crucial thing we are looking for is support for the increasing number of students with behavioral and learning difficulties being placed in our classrooms with no additional resourcing.

I welcomed one such student to my Year 9 English class. He became student 29. The rap sheet was long but equally concerning was the learning levels and associated needs. So what’s a teacher to do?

I can’t ignore him because that could lead to outbursts that will impact everyone’s learning and potentially place us in danger. Philosophically, I believe that despite his negative attitude, student X is a human being who deserves a chance. There are reasons beyond his control leading to some of these challenges.

On the other hand, I simply don’t have time to make an individual learning programme for a student who is probably two or even three levels of the New Zealand Curriculum below where he needs to be.

When he joined us, we had just started a unit of work on formal writing.  I quickly realized I needed to find a way to adapt the tasks or things would go pear shaped very quickly. Of course I realise that’s our job but those outside education must consider the context. Our classes already cater for recent immigrants with no support who can arrive with zero English language skills, international students, children with dyslexia/dyspraxia (both diagnosed and undiagnosed), ORS funded students with intellectual disabilities (who have teacher aides but still take time to socially integrate into class activities) and the list goes on.

Day 1 – I started by setting him up with ClassNotebook and spending 15 minutes showing him how to naviagte the LMS. Because he was prone to losing his password and log in I popped it on a post note on the wall he faced with a laptop so that couldn’t be an issue.

Day 2 – The next day, we watched a documentary on boy racers, brainstormed ideas in support or against them and then students had to write persuasive paragraphs in their journals. I sat down with student X and got him to discuss his ideas, prompting him and encouraging him to use the S.E.X.Y structure of paragraph writing. We then crafted them into paragraph which I typed.

Day 3 -Language features – Student X picked a topic (tazers) and brainstormed three ideas about why Police shouldn’t use them. I typed up a paragraph for him. Then we went back through and I pointed out and colour coded formal writing features.

Day 4 – Picking a topic for our assessment and researching supporting points. Student X picked one and brainstormed ideas. He was then given time to find examples to support his ideas (research)

Day 5 -8 – Drafting an essay. Student X did this on ClassNotebook. I supplied feedback by making audio recordings to suggest ways to make paragraphs better or a smiley sticker if he had done well. He really struggled with editing and crafting – once it was written down, it was done as far as he was concerned. His short attention span meant he found it difficult to go over the same paragraphs more than once.

Overall this approach enabled me to build a more productive realtionship with student X. I set clear expectations that in English, he was expected to do the work like other students BUT I tried to make sure that work was pitched at his level, gave him choices, clear deadlines, heavily scaffolded the assessment task and gave him one on one time.

I’d like to report the story had a happy ending but issues outside the classroom meant he was removed for a spell. Hopefully when he comes back we can pick up where we left off using ClassNotebook to engage student X and progress his learning.

Below are screen shots (click on them for a clearer view) of the scaffolded tasks we worked through for formal writing:

Day 2student dictates a paragraph based on visual text and class brainstorm

Day 3 – language features and paragraph structure

Day 4 – pick topic, form opinion, brainstorm points, research

 

 

Days 5 – 8 Draft, craft and edit essay. Students gets feedback visually and as audio recording

Structure broken down – student chose previous topic rather than one from list

 

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