From past experiences, when a new year begins, there is some level of tension because the students do not know what to expect and they are uncertain of their ability to handle what is it come. As for this group of students, the 8th graders, the same challenge falls before them, the lesson plan points out that there are no examples of current work done by the students but there are some of the examples done by previous students. The teacher has also made efforts to familiarize the students with each other as a way of making them comfortable in the class. Furthermore, the students have been made aware of the routine and the activities they are supposed to do and those they are allowed to perform. The objectives of the lesson have been set and the standards to be met have also been stated. Among the objectives, the students are expected to submit an essay that is two to three paragraphs long according to the instructions and guidelines set by the teacher. The style of teaching employed delegation of tasks and culmination of team work among the students. The teacher also required each student to perform individual tasks to inculcate the culture of independence while team work cultivated dependence. The mixture of the two types of teaching strikes a balance that the students have to maintain - not to be too independent to ask for help and not to be too dependent not to handle some tasks individually. For this paper, this curriculum will be modified to fit the specific components of a student in need of special education.
Deslea M. Konza notes that shortcomings such as those of Grace may have both short-term and long term effects. He purports that when these disabled students are neglected their lives could end up being miserable and of insufficient satisfaction. Since these students have issues with self- esteem, they have problems expressing themselves and for those who do not understand them may shun them away. Failure to reach certain education goals begets a history of failure that greatly demoralizes these students. The defects in their cognitive functioning make them prone to slow learning and more often than not, their educational history is full of failure. Peers of these students soon begin to shun them away and they fall into depression, withdrawal and in some cases, there is acting out. Deslea points out that because of these dire consequences, there is need to help these students with disabilities reach their full potential and be an important contribution to the society (Konza, 2005). Taking a step into this direction, the points below provide adjustments that could be made to the present Social Studies curriculum to better align with the special components of Grace's IEP.
Grace Jenkins is a special student due to her language learning disability. Her condition makes it difficult for her to express herself through writing. The most suitable mode of communication for her is orally. She has no problem interacting with her peers but she has problems understanding what the teacher says. Grace also finds it difficult to express herself and respond in writing. However, she has a problem with her auditory memory and perception. Grace's performance is affected by this state of mind and as such, she has to be one grade behind her peers. In addition to being a grade behind, 10% of her day at school must be spent with a specialist who is to help her improve her language skills. Due to these complications, the curriculum of the Social Studies class requires adjustment to suit Grace's needs.
First of all, prior to the lessons, the teacher could preview the material that the students are to be provided with. The Social Studies Plan provided showed that the teacher will provide handouts that would be used for practice. According to Grace's IEP, she has a problem understanding written language and she would not be able to process the information in the handouts as fast as the other learner would. Presenting the information to Grace prior to the class could be one of the ways to make her be at par with her classmates. Additionally, all the material that Grace is to be exposed to could be rewritten in shorter sentences that are easily interpreted. Her special teacher, Shelly Johnson, could be tasked with this responsibility so that Grace would be at an equal advantage with her classmates. On the other hand, during the time that the handouts are used in class, the teacher could request one of the other students to read it aloud because it was noted that Grace interacts well with her peers and that she enjoys talking to them. Reading the handout aloud would make it easier for Grace to understand whatever concept or content being taught.
On the matter of reading, some adjustments have been suggested by Deslea Konza. One of the ways to meet Grace's needs has already been mentioned and that is rewriting the material to be used in class. Grace has been found to have problems with her cognitive functioning that make it difficult for her to process language. By rewriting the reading material and using short sentences, Grace would be able to understand the class teachings. Another way is by use of word charts. Deslea proposes that the use of word charts could be used to help the students understand the meaning of vocabulary in the context that they are used. Prior to the use of a material, the teacher could identify vocabulary and ask the students to say what they think they mean and later on, when reviewing the content, the correct meaning of the word as used in the context could be identified (Konza, 2005).
Interacting with peers and oral expressions has been identified as the strengths of Grace. Taking this strength and using it to improve her learning is one of the things that should be greatly considered as she goes through her curriculum. During reading, stopping and thinking could be employed to improve the understanding not only of Grace but all the students as well. When this method is applied, the students are guaranteed of better conceptualization of the content they are subjected to. This method requires that the teacher or a student reads the material and after a section, the students are asked to talk about what they have just read. This comes in as one of Grace's strengths as indicated by the IEP document. During the sharing sessions, students could be asked to talk about their understanding of the text, identify the major points, ask questions where need be and finally attempt to relate the content that was read to personal lives (Konza, 2005). Stopping and thinking could make a great impact on the success of the curriculum.
According to the current curriculum, there is provision for group work. After the twenty minutes of presenting new information and modeling, the teacher is required to group the students and assign each group a unique task. Group work teaches the student to be dependant but also on the role of contribution. However, in this case, group work is not meant to help Grace be dependant. The purpose of the group is to allow her to interact with her peers with whom she is happy around. Studies have shown that working in groups helps learners develop a sense of belonging (Sargent, Perner, Cook & Fesgen, 2012). Additionally, group interaction allows maximum participation of every student in the class. The group setting is perfect for Grace because it allows her to express herself orally. The IEP report pointed out that Grace has difficulty in following directions. Placing her in a group where she interacts with her peers allows her to freely express herself and emulate the activities that her mates are doing. If following directions is hard task for her to accomplish, she can perform tasks and be part of the work by contributing as much as the other are.
Educators are constantly trying to figure out ways to educate all students. Some of these students have disorders that place them at a disadvantage over the other kids. Grace's condition places her in such a position but there are ways that have been found that could help compensate for the effects the disorders have ushered in. The formation of groups and the inclusion of Grace in one of them have provided one of such ways. However, care must be taken as to what group she is placed in. The careful placement in a group provides the adjustment that needs to be done on the current curriculum. 'Social Studies' focuses, in part, on history. Grace expresses herself best when she is with her peers. For this reasons, the group that she is placed in should be given the task that will allow Grace express herself by telling the others what she has learned. In this manner, she will be both contributing to the group and boosting her self esteem (Sargent, Perner, Cook & Fesgen, 2012).
The Social Studies lesson plan has indicated that at the end of the topic, the students will be required to submit an essay that is two to three paragraphs long. Grace's language learning disability puts her in a very tough position. She is not good in expressing herself in writing. It is an area that will need time to improve. The option that could be provided for her is to prepare for the essay but present it orally. She will not be exempted from writing forever but for the sake of the first assignments, her assessment needs to take into consideration her disability. Placing her in the same kind of evaluation as the normal students would be gravely unfair to her. Assessment has to be such that it takes into account the special conditions of students with unique needs. A system that differentially assesses students could be introduced into the curriculum such that even if a differently-abled student who is not good with oral language can be allowed to write all their responses (Guidelines for Teachers of Students with General Learning Disabilities Introduction, n.d.). In Grace's sake, her examinations cold be specially offered to her in the form that requires oral responses since among her strengths is the ability to express herself orally. This would have modified the curriculum to accommodate her specific components as denoted in the IEP document.
Zarrillo has proposed that one of the tools that could be used to teach students with problems in writing could be by using oral means. The curriculum has stipulated that the topic that the class was going to cover was 'Causes of the American Revolution'. Taking note once again that Grace fins an easier time expressing herself orally, it is worth using every means possible to get her engaged by requiring responses from her. She has problems with auditory and visual perception but she enjoys interacting with her peers. One of the activities that the teacher could use to impart knowledge without leaving anyone out is by enacting some of the scenes in a dramatically set play. The play would be a great tool to incorporate the involvement of all the students in the class and to help Grace more than any one. In the end, Grace would have learned the desired concepts and the class would have found a learning activity that was interesting. Zarrillo purports that students acquire knowledge differently and mixing different methods of teaching could be a great tool to get every student on board.
Grace's cognitive function is impaired and her auditory and visual perception as stated earlier impedes her understanding of the teacher. Due to this setback, she might not be able to catch up with the rest of the students at the pace that they are moving with the teacher. It would therefore be considerate for the curriculum to initiate a different session which would be used to bring the students with disabilities up to speed by reiterating the things that had been taught earlier. This fo...
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