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My Class with Our Guidance Counselor
e 3rd Grade inclusion classroom in which I observed and student taught provided me with a true pallet of diversity. Students in room 207 ranged from individuals from lower socioeconomic status, students tagged for gifted education (6 total), individuals with learning disabilities and speech deficits (6 total), children on the spectrum autism, visual learners, and auditory learners. From the beginning I knew that differentiation would be a challenge, but it was a challenge I was willing and excited to accept as it became my goal to help every individual student achieve to the best of their ability (Competency 4).

In an effort to meet the needs of every student in my classroom I collaborated with numerous individuals at Stonehouse Elementary (see also Professional Dispositions). Several students in my classroom had IEPs and these students were pulled out for reading instruction each day. A few students also attended another teacher's classroom during mathematics instruction in order to meet their individual needs. Thus, I was constantly communicating and collaborating with the special education teacher, her paraprofessional, and a fellow 3rd Grade teacher to ensure that each student received the instruction they needed. My cooperating teacher and I had to ensure that any test given to the students with IEPs was done so in a small group setting, and therefore we had to communicate with the special education teacher or her paraprofessional so that they were aware and able to administer the test. During student teaching I attended several IEP meetings, child study meetings, and conferences. In fact, I assisted my cooperating teacher in compiling evidence to discuss at a child study meeting for a student in need of a behavioral action plan. I was responsible for determining whether the student had made appropriate choices, cooperated well with adults, begun his work on time, and worked to complete his work with fewer than two reminders. Over the course of several weeks my cooperating teacher and I worked with the guidance counselor, school psychologist intern, reading specialist, and student's family to improve the student's behavior and performance in school. Toward the end of my student teaching I was pleased to see that our collaboration efforts seemed to have paid off for this student, as he was more attentive in school, willing to complete his work, and motivated to learn. In fact, during my last full week of student teaching the student proudly came up to me to ask if I could write a note in his agenda telling his mother about his excellent week. My cooperating teacher and I were hopeful that he had turned a new leaf and I was happy to have been a part of helping him to change his choice making and acquire a more positive outlook on school.

Perhaps the easiest subject to differentiate and address the diverse needs of my classroom was Reading (see Planning for Teaching and Teaching Skills), due to the nature of the reading workshop literacy program established at Stonehouse Elementary. Students with IEPs were pulled out to the resource room with the special education teacher and then the students remaining in my classroom were divided into flexible ability-based groups. Students were either working with me in their guided reading group or reading a "just right book" independently at their desks during reading instruction. Thus, all students were reading and completing work at their targeted reading level (Competency 10).

As part of each day there was a period for Intervention and Enrichment, a designated thirty minutes of the day set aside for enrichment or remediation. Those students in my classroom reading below grade level went to read with the reading specialists, while a few students might be pulled out for speech depending on the day of the week. Occasionally, the special education teacher would work with a few students to catch up on required minutes or meet accommodations set forth in their IEPs. I would also generally have a group working on a math concept that had given student difficulty in the reading corner. The remaining students in the classroom would then have an opportunity to play word study games, online computer enrichment games, or independently research. When independently researching students would first choose a book of their choice from the "Read for Knowledge" bin and fill out a research worksheet. Finally, students then had the opportunity to create a poster with text and illustrations. Those students who enjoyed artistic expression particularly liked to spend time illustrating their posters (Competency 10).


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Please visit the page on Teaching Skills to explore more lessons in which I differentiated instructional strategies to meet the needs of each student in my classroom.