Task 1: Knowledge of Students and Learning Environment

Contextual Factors, McCormick High School
McCormick is a rural town located 30 minutes south of Greenwood. The population is approximately 10,000 residents. McCormick has one elementary, one middle, and one high school, all housed within the same building. The high school has 255 students in grades 9 -12. McCormick spends $9,219 per pupil. The student to teacher ratio is 13 to 1 .The dropout rate for the McCormick School District is 4%. In the McCormick School District, 11% of students have an IEP. McCormick has 90% of the students receiving free and reduced lunch. McCormick High School employs 21 certified teachers and 6 non-certified employees. There is little major business in McCormick. The major manufacturing industries in McCormick are Milken and Logging Companies. The average work commute for the McCormick resident is 25 minutes. The average median income in a household in McCormick is $40,600. This is about $10,000 less than the United States Average. McCormick poverty rate is 41.6% compared to 22.4% for the rest of the state. McCormick is considered to be one of the poorer school districts in the state of South Carolina. Taxes are very low on all properties. McCormick has many churches of all different denominations. There are many small local businesses such as restaurants, clothing stores, hair salons, and construction companies. McCormick is best known as a tourist town. McCormick has many nice parks. Many retirees make McCormick home in the Savannah Lakes community.

Community Factor
All of the school, community, students, and learning factors contributed to my instructional strategies. The parents at McCormick are very involved in the education process. The school sends home weekly newsletters to keep parents informed on events in the school. I will focus on things that the students are interested in so that I can gain and maintain their interest. Most of the students seem to enjoy athletics as well as other extracurricular activities and events. I will implement sports related books and math problems into my curriculum as much as possible. I will take into account the students’ environment in my teaching methods. Many of these students live in the in the small towns neighboring McCormick within McCormick County. Some students travel up to 20 miles to school. They have very limited exposure to the rest of the world. Therefore, I will employ a range of instructional strategies such as group discussions, critiques, worksheets, and individual lessons to add exposure to my students’ knowledge. Throughout the lessons, the students will learn the importance of a variety of academic areas. I will teach them how to integrate subjects such as math, writing, and reading in a real word setting. The discussions I use will relate to the interests and background knowledge of the students and I will also be sure to provide step-by-step instructions to the class as a whole. Through pre-assessments, formal assessments, post assessments, and MAP scores; I will be able to monitor the students’ progression with each objective. I will also be able to monitor their learning in order to change my teaching strategies as necessary. I will tailor the lessons in order to ensure all students are provided the opportunity to learn and complete work to their best ability. I will use technology in my classroom daily with computers, the Smart board, and I pads. This will also be an important part of my everyday teaching strategies. My classroom instruction will be designed with the success of all students in mind.

District Factor
McCormick High School is a small district with only 208 students in 9th -12th grade. Therefore, the district puts greater emphases on individual instructions for each student. For example, McCormick has the Apex lab. Students can go in and work on assignments and subjects to improve grades. With the implementations of the Common Core standards McCormick is looking to be competative on the national level. The district has put a focus on getting teacher train on the common Core Standard. We have weekly professonal development on the Common Core Standards. As a result, this will make each student and teacher learning experience more valuable, because teachers will have more resources and coworkers to help them, and students will be getting better teachers. The district has put a focus on reading and writing with the implementation of Common Core Standard. This is the main focus reading and writing should be in all subjects. I will use reading book daily with each lesson. I will give short writing assignments to my students daily. This will give students an opportunity to make connection to lesson by using comprehension skills and writing skills. As a special education teacher my focus should be on reading and writing with my students on their cognitive learning ability. Therefore, I will use educational games, videos, and Promethean board activities in my lessons. This will give students a variety of learning activities. I will use andotenal notes to keep up with the progress of my students. I will have openended discussions with my students on the daily lesson. This will give me an opportunity to make sure students are learning.

School Factors
McCormick High School is a small rural school that is mostly African –American students. McCormick High School has absolute rating of GOOD and growth rating of EXCELLENT. Each student a McCormick High School has to pass the HSAP in order to receive a high school diploma. Last year, 95 % of the McCormick students passed the HSAP .The students at McCormick High School are offered many different

subjects such as Algebra, Math Technologies 2,Geomentry, English, Biology, Applied Biology 2, US History and Constitution. As a result, McCormick High School is trying to prepare students for end of the year Course exams. McCormick students did not perform well on the end of course testing last year. Hopefully, with the improved curriculum the scores will improve this year.

Classroom Factors
McCormick High School provides student with a small classroom setting. This provides students with an opportunity to get extra academic help in the classroom. Many of the classroom designs are for individual learning. Students are expected to work independently on assignments. In the science classroom there are more group and lab work. McCormick also has the career based classes, and the JAG program for at risk students. The McCormick classrooms bring a very strong support system for all students. Many of the students are from poverty stricken backgrounds. Therefore, the classroom becomes a safe haven for many of the students. Also, of teachers at McCormick 52% of them have advance degrees. So the classroom teachers are very qualified.

Contextual Factors Chart


Classroom Factors Parents push for more educational programs.

Student Characteristics

Instructional Implications

Community Specific special education curriculum and expectations are provided by the district. The expectations and the behavioral programs administered contribute to students fulfilling Students are in a classroom with a student/teacher ratio 13 to 1



Examples must be relevant to the economic factors/family values of the community. Vertical planning is more The district has set expectations effective because teachers and standards for all students to throughout the district are in the follow . same building, creating a Students are better prepared to Students are grouped more be successful in the classroom diversely because of smaller due to the programs the school numbers. Therefore instruction have in place. must be deeply scaffolded. Behavioral expectations are influenced by family values. This provides the students with Students have opportunities to extra opportunities to get one on use the Promethean Board, with one instruction from the teacher small class sizes.


Instructional Resources Chart


Worksheets Manipulatives Calculators Number Line Charts/Graphs Lists Manipulatives Graphic Organizers Leveled Readers Graphic Organizers Reading workbook Comprehension Worksheets Textbook Graphic Organizers Reading Software Leveled Readers Short Passages

Whole Group Small Group Reading Individual

Whole Group

Small Group

Life Skills


Whole Group

Small Group

Money Manipulatives Measuring Cups PCs with Excel (Data Entry) Reading Material Money manipulative/goods Charts/Graphs Food Products (cooking) Menus Food Order Tablets Money Manipulatives Measuring cups/Cooking Accessories

Interest Inventory The student I done the interest inventory on was a 16 years old sophomore in the self -contained special education classroom. This student is like many teenage boys, because he enjoys playing video games and talking on his cell phone. His favorite subject is Math, because he finds Math to come more natural to him. His favorite hobby is cooking. He has plans of attending culinary school after high school. He has aspiration of becoming a chef, and owning his own restaurant. Therefore, as method to better prepares him for the future part of his transition skill plan is to work in the lunchroom. This gives the student valuable experience that he will be able to use in his future job.

Communication with Student and Family I would send home a parent letter to each student. I would introduce expectations and myself for all students in the classroom. This letter will have all my contact information for parents to reach me freely. As a result, parents can use this letter to refer to what is expected of their children and me.

February 7, 2014

Dear Parents/Guardians:

I would like to take the time to introduce myself. My name is Rico Salliewhite and I will be student teaching this semester in Ms. Simmons’ classroom. I am excited about getting to know your child and look forward to the many learning experiences. This is my first time teaching special education. I will graduate from Lander University in May with a special education degree. Together, we can make this a very successful semester.

You are always welcome to call or email at any time should you have concerns about your child’s work/progress. Regular progress reports and student work will be sent home to keep you informed. Throughout the semester I welcome parents to share their professions, unique hobbies, and culture with the class. If you are interested in this possibility, please contact me. I can be contacted at school at (864) 443-0040 or by email at salliewhiter@mccormick.k12.sc.us.

A positive classroom environment is important for learning success. My goal is to provide an atmosphere that is exciting, interesting and well disciplined. For the most part, parents are supportive of a well-managed classroom because the environment is conducive to learning. Open communication is the key to a successful year. Please advise me if there is any problem or concern that you may have regarding your child.

It is an honor to be given the opportunity to be your child’s teacher this semester and I look forward to our meeting.


Rico Salliewhite