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EDUG 501 PRQ #2 1

EDUG 501: Portfolio Response Question #2

Sarah Moss

Vanguard University
EDUG 501 PRQ #2 2

EDUG 501: Portfolio Response Question #2

Introduction

A rookie teacher steps into her 1st grade classroom on the first day of school. She has

seen the class roster. Twenty-five, six-year-olds will soon be entering through the doors she

decorated only days before. Twenty-five young faces, each with different personal stories, each

coming from different families and cultures, each having different cognitive abilities and each

needing the teachers support in very different ways. The teacher knows some of her students

may have special needs, whether physical, mental or emotional. She expects some of her students

may be English learners or Standard English learners, as well. But how will she know which

ones? How will she know how to engage and support them all equitably? The bell rings at

8:00am and the parents begin to walk their little treasures to their new classroom for the school

year. Showtime.

The narrative above describes a real-life scenario I imagine I will encounter on my first

day of teaching in my own classroom. How will I engage and support diverse students in their

learning? I will accomplish this by getting to know my students well and respecting their special

needs, multiple intelligences and cultural or language diversity. First, I will describe steps a

teacher can take in supporting students with special needs.

Engaging Students with Special Needs

As a teacher, it is vitally important to get to know all of your students. In fact, the first of

the Teacher Performance Expectations (TPEs) for beginning teachers, TPE 1.1, asks beginning

teachers to, Apply knowledge of students [] to engage them in learning (Commission on

Teacher Credentialing (CTC), 2016). In doing so, it is especially important to consider students

with special needs. The first way I would engage students with special needs in my
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classroom would be familiarizing myself with the student's Individualized Education Program

(IEP) and following that plan in a creative way. Creating an IEP is mandated by the government,

according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and its amendments (1975 & 1997),

"an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) must be developed for each student with disabilities".

The responsibility of the general education teacher is to follow that IEP in a creative way so the

student has no barriers to accessing the instruction. For example, a student with an IEP who is

hard of hearing might require certain accommodations like preferential seating in front of the

class or assistive technology like an FM speaker connected to the students hearing aid. I would

also plan to get to know the students without identified disabilities or IEPs and their multiple

intelligences.

Engaging Students Multiple Intelligences

According to Howard Gardner, each of us has a unique blend of intelligences and is

equipped with these intellectual potentials, which we can mobilize and connect according to our

own inclinations and our cultures preferences (Gardner 1999). This being said, by getting to

know each of my students unique array of intelligences, I can more effectively plan my lessons.

For example, after assessing students intelligences through observations of class activities or

through other informal assessments like a getting to know you survey on the first day of class,

I could use the information I gather to increase the amount of musical activity I put into a lesson,

or the amount of natural activities, etc. It would be a disservice to my students if I were to put all

my effort into planning lessons that aim to increase one type of intelligence by neglecting

another; I will strive to create a balanced approach. After getting to know students special needs

and multiple intelligences, I would focus on getting to know their cultural and language

backgrounds, as well.
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Engaging Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

There are over 5 million English Language Learners (ELLs) in the US today, which

means the likelihood of having an ELL in any given public school classroom is about one in nine

(Burden and Byrd 2016). English Language Learners, including Standard English Learners, or

those who speak another form of English in the home like African American Language (AAL) or

Mexican American English (MAE), need different types of accommodations as well. In a class

discussion, Dr. Vivian Mun shared her personal teaching experience with a group of primarily

Central American immigrant students in Los Angeles. In her lesson, Dr. Mun made a reference to

an In-N-Out cheeseburger, expecting the students to react with watering mouths. To her surprise,

none of the children reacted at all. Repeating herself did no good. It was only then that she

realized her students had never hear of, much less tasted an In-N-Out cheeseburger. Recognizing

these differences and making modifications to lessons is key for students with diverse cultural or

language backgrounds. The California beginning teaching standards ask beginning teachers to,

Locate and apply information about students' [] language proficiency status, and cultural

background for both short-term and long-term instructional planning purposes (CTC 2016). In

this situation, a teacher could use realia, or real life examples or images, and pull up an image on

the Internet of the burger, or even bring in real cheeseburgers for the students to try. Another

method would be to use an example these students might be more familiar with. Instead of using

In-N-Out to describe a delicious dish, the teacher could use a culturally relevant example in her

lesson like pupusas, a traditional Salvadorian comfort food.

Conclusion

In summary, for a student with special needs, it is necessary for a teacher to become fully

aware of any existing IEPs and to make the accommodations outlined therein to support their
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learning. For students who are not identified with IEPs, it is especially useful to become familiar

with their different intelligences, from logical-mathematical to natural, knowing the students

different blends of intelligences can only inform lesson planning to create balanced lessons and

units. Finally, when considering students with cultural and language differences, one should

always aim to use culturally relevant examples when providing examples. If an example is

foreign to a student, realia is useful in bridging the gap of the students knowledge. In the end, I

believe it all comes down to knowing the needs of your students and creating then following

plans to meet those needs in the most creative and engaging way possible.
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References

Burden, P.R., & Byrd, D.M. (2016). Methods for effective teaching: Meeting the needs of

all students (7th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson Education, Inc.

Commission on Teacher Credentialing. (2016). Preliminary multiple subject and single subject

credential program standards. Retrieved from

http://www.ctc.ca.gov/educatorprep/standards/PrelimMSstandard.pdf

Gardner, Howard (1999). Intelligence Reframed: Multiple Intelligences for the 21st Century.

Basic Books. 33-46.

Individuals with Disability Education Act Amendments of 1997 [IDEA]. (1997). Retrieved from

https://www.congress.gov/105/plaws/publ17/PLAW-105publ17.pdf

Mun, V. (6 September 2016). EDUG 501: Assessing socio-cultural diversity, discussion. Personal

collection of V. Mun, Vanguard University, Costa Mesa, CA.