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RUNNING HEAD: Key Specialized Instruction

Key Assignment: Specialized Instruction

Kitrina M. Ross

John Hopkins University


My Prospective as a Special Educator

During the 2016-17 school year I have learned a lot about teaching students who

have exceptional needs who are working with varying levels of self-sufficiency. The first

assignment in one of my SPED classes was to write a case study about a student who has

special needs and interview the student, their teachers, and family. In doing this I learned

that Student J really cared about his education and wanted to become friends with his

peers. Student J, is on the autism spectrum and has ADHD which makes it hard for him to

focus in class and socialize with his peers in a positive way. I realized he had extensive

background knowledge to pull from because he was an avid reader but he struggled with

knowing when his peers cared to hear his thoughts/opinions. I wanted to help Student J,

share his knowledge with his peers in a way that they might be more receptive, so in my

lesson plans I wrote in time for student led discussions such as Socratic Seminars.

My rationale for incorporating opportunities for authentic student talk is to allow

students an alternative to strictly writing their thoughts, giving them an opportunity to

experiment with academic language. They can mix previously learned vocabulary and

grammar structures with the academic language of the lesson, as well as steer

conversations towards their individual interests. As a special educator, it is important to

make sure that the concepts that I teach my students are accessible to each scholar in the

classroom and that requires me to create universally designed learning or UDL lesson


Using sites like Kahoot to assess student comprehension of a concept is both fun

for the students because they can use cellphones/laptops to share their response without

having to do so in front of their peers, they can respond to the correct answer by choosing

a shape symbol versus a letter, and everyone has the same amount of time to answer the

question so the expectation in timing is both high and consistent for each student. The

kids like Kahoot! because it is like a game and they can participate in friendly

competition with their peers in a low stakes manner and the data gets emailed to me after

the game and I can assess what students know in real time as well. This activity ties into

the three principles of UDL which are: providing multiple means of representation (what

of learning), action/expression (the how of learning), and multiple means of engagement

(the why of learning).

According to the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, UDL is an

educational framework that guides teachers in providing flexibility in the ways

information is presented, in the ways students respond or demonstrate knowledge and

skills, and in the ways students are engaged. The reason it is so important to have

multiple ways of showcasing information is so that students who have specific learning

obstacles (like Student Js Asperger situation) can still be able to engage in the learning

with students whose social skills are more developed. When I plan lessons for my

incoming 6th grade students, my goals are to make sure that there are appropriate

modifications and accommodations for the students with IEPs and my ELLs, yet the

lessons should still challenge and push the learning of each student. I do not want there to

be any barriers preventing students from meeting the expectations I have for their work

and engagement, because I know with the right tools/supports every student can meet

high expectations in varieties of ways.