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JOT Task 1

In this essay I will analyze the student population that I work with to identify some
general characteristics that are important to consider when I develop instruction. I will begin by
discussing the instructional environment of the high school I teach at. With this learner analysis
in mind, I can then describe three examples where cultural issues have made an impact on the
learning environment. Lastly, I will focus in on one of the three examples and discuss the
guidelines that I used to adapt my instruction in order to be sensitive to the cultural difference.
Instructional Environment
Instructional setting. My instructional setting is Richland High School in Richland,
Washington. Richland High belongs to the 4A classification which is the largest in Washington
State. According to the Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction, the school had 1,849
students enrolled as of May 2013 (OSPI, 2013). The school was recently remodeled in the last
few years so we have nice facilities and equipment for the instructional setting. Each student has
their own desk and the desks are arranged in the traditional straight rows facing the front of the
room formation. At the front of the room is where most of my instruction takes place. We have a
SmartBoard there along with two whiteboards that I use daily in every class.
Audience. The school might big and have a lot of students but the student population is
not diverse in regards to race/ethnicity. Richland High has a student population that is 81.8%
White, 9.9% are Hispanic/Latino, 3.9% Asian/Pacific Islander, 3.6% Asian, and 2.8%
Black/African American (OSPI, 2013). I teach five classes with 30, 28, 29, 29, and 32 students in
the classes. The diversity of my classes follow the percentages seen above of the entire school
pretty closely. The students in my Algebra 1 courses are on grade-level in math but this
classification involves a wide variety of learning styles and strategies. The last piece of
information to note is I have an average of two students per class on an Individualized Education
Content area. I am a mathematics teacher at the high school and I teach two different
courses. The first course is Algebra 1, which is a freshman only course that includes students that
are on grade-level. Algebra 1 is a crucial foundation in math for these students and we strive to
produce students with very strong Algebra skills. Also, our goal is to prepare the students to be
successful on their End of Course Exam in Algebra that is a graduation requirement. The second
course I teach is Algebra 2/Trigonometry. This course is offered to only seniors and these
students are typically below grade-level. They have weak backgrounds or gaps in their math
knowledge so this class covers a broad spectrum of material with the goal of preparing the
students for college.
Cultural Issues
Socio-Economic status. Richland High has about 40% of our students on "Free/Reduced
Lunch Plans" this year (OSPI, 2013). This means that their parent/guardian's income is below a
certain threshold set by the state. As mentioned above, Richland High School is located in a city
called Richland. South Richland contains the newer housing developments and North Richland
contains lower income housing that was established during The Manhattan Project in the 1940's.
In my classes I see students from all types of socio-economic status. This has made an impact on
the learning environment in multiple facets. It is extremely difficult to predict what supplies or
materials students in my classes will have on a daily basis. Their resources outside of my
classroom also vary immensely. An extreme example where status has impacted the environment
is when I had a student that comes from a lot of money not wanting to partner up with the "poor
kids" during group work because they aren't as smart as he is.
Individualized education plans. As mentioned above, I have about two students in
every class that have an individualized education plan. These have made an impact on the
learning environment in my classes before because they have their individual needs that I have to
address according to the law. For example: shortened assignments, copies of notes, more time for
assessments, the opportunity to leave class to work in a different environment, among others. I
always would try to be as discreet as possible when letting the students know that they could
exercise any of those options listed above. These things make an impact on the learning
environment because I am constantly ensuring that these students are being accommodated as
described by their IEP.
Race. Last year I had a student in class who was from a family of migrant workers from
Mexico. From what he explained to me education wasn't important because he could just go
work in the fields and make a lot of money picking crops from the local areas. His parents didn't
have an education and yet they were making good money working in the fields so the idea of
getting an education just didn't appeal to him. He missed a lot of class because he was working a
particular harvest and when he was in class he was extremely negative. This disrupted the
learning environment in a huge way when he was at school. The other students in class didn't
understand his reasons for his negativity and they associated him with just being a bad student
who doesn't do their work that was going to flunk out of high school. On days where he was
absent from class students would question the antics of this particular student. Finally, after a
long discussion with the student and a member of our school's administration, we were able to
convince him that he needs his education. What if he got hurt? The harvesting and picking of the
fields requires strenuous manual labor but if he got hurt he wouldn't be able to do that anymore.
This thought was the convincing point for the student and the negativity went away soon after.
Guidelines. When it comes to adapting instruction to be sensitive to the socio-economic
status of my students there are certain guidelines that I make sure to follow. At the beginning of
the year I spend a good amount of time establishing a high level of respect in my classroom.
Math is a difficult subject for a lot of students and it becomes even more difficult when they
aren't comfortable or relaxed. I try my best to make sure none of my students are afraid to ask
questions or take a risk answering a question. Since I'm unsure of what resources my group of
students will have or not have, I add the basic materials into my budget for the school year. That
way there is never a problem where a student doesn't have the necessary materials to complete an
assignment or basic task in class. We use spiral notebooks everyday in class to do entry tasks and
take notes. When students run out of pages in their notebooks, they know they have access to the
extra notebook that are located in the supply cupboard in class. I ask on my syllabus at the
beginning of the year for students to purchase a basic calculator for class use. Some students
have the calculators but others who do not are allowed to use one of the calculators I provide for
the class. Another guideline I follow is I'm particular about the assignments I chose or projects
we do in my class. For example, I don't assign a project that requires the student to use a
computer unless I give the students ample in class time to complete that portion. The main
guideline that each of the above guidelines falls into is that I make it so all students have an
equal opportunity to be successful in my classroom.
Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. (2013, may). Washington state report card -
richland high school. Retrieved from