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Week Fourteen

Meeting the Needs of Diverse Learners

(This completed document due on Weebly and BB prior to midnight
November 21)
NOTE: Your group’s Voice Thread presentation of your learning is
due in class on November 19

Before Reading:
In your observations and experiences in the classroom, who are the students
who struggle to read and learn your content? Why do you think these students
have difficulty?
Why does it matter how we label struggling readers? What strategies are most
and least effective in meeting the needs of diverse students in the classroom?

The most common students who have issues with reading are ELL students with little
time spent learning English or who have received inefficient or inappropriate instruction.
The reasons behind their struggles are fairly obvious; they do not have the adequate
lingual experience to read and comprehend what we want to teach them. Then, there
are students who can read a text in the most basic sense, meaning that they can
generally process and/or recite the words in front of them, but they struggle to
determine what those words mean in relation to each other. This may be because of
cognitive issues/learning deficiencies or because of poor and/or little previous
instruction and experience with reading, or it may even be both of those factors
combined. The texts provided to them previously may have been too complex for the
reading abilities they had at the time, or the texts may have been too simple for too
long, meaning that they were never given opportunities to gradually progress into texts
slightly above their zone of proximal development. In English, doing a close reading of a
text to find hidden/less obvious meanings can even be a challenging task for me at
times, and I am someone who has gone through many classes that solely focus on that.
Imagine a student who has not gotten explicit and frequent instruction on reading a text
to determine meaning beyond the most literal idea. They may have no idea where to
begin trying to do something like a close reading and an analysis.

When labeling struggling readers, we need to be absolutely certain that what we are
deeming them or what we are identifying as their issues is accurate. Mislabeling them
can lead to us taking unnecessary steps to incorporate intervention methods that do not
benefit the student at all. To accurately label them, we need to use multiple different
assessment methods to pinpoint where their reading skills need the most assistance
and gauge what they already know. What we should not do in trying to target the needs
of diverse learners is give them more work to help them “practice” the type of work they
struggle with, or as a way to provide gifted learners with more of a “challenge.” We
should also not isolate them from the rest of the class and give them work completely
different compared to what other students are doing. Revisiting what I said earlier, we
should frequently assess our students to determine what progress they are making, and
then give them work related to the content we are teaching that is slightly above their
skill level. Doing so works as a scaffold, gradually pushing students to work with their
current understanding and abilities related to the content at a level that genuinely
challenges them as learners in a positive way.

During Reading (Chapter 3):

Write two key points from your reading for each:

Culturally relevant pedagogy:

1. The five themes that should be considered in developing culturally
relevant pedagogy are: 1) identity and achievement, 2) equity and
excellence, 3) developmental appropriateness, 4) teaching the whole child,
and 5) student-teacher relationships. (Vacca 54)
2. Culturally relevant pedagogy needs to draw on a student’s “fund of
knowledge,” which means taking a student’s “interests and the background
knowledge that he or she brings to content area concepts” into
consideration when we develop our plans for teaching. (60)

Supporting the linguistic differences in today’s schools:

1. Language variations are important to students’ identities and their ability
to progress as content learners, and teachers should welcome those
variations into their classes when possible through methods like code-
switching rather viewing those variations as deficits that need to be
eclipsed by standard English. (64-65)
2. The language used in schools, academic language, is different from the
casual English that (ELL) students learn, and teachers should understand
that some words carry different meaning across content areas (plot in ELA
vs Math) and they should work to create a balance between the general
meaning of a word and the content-specific meaning. (70)
In Class November 14

Read (found in Blackboard):

Collins, K. & Ferri, B. (2016). Literacy education and disability studies: Reenvisioning
struggling students. Journal of Adolescent and Adult Literacy, 60(1), p. 7-12.

Boon, R. & Spencer, V. (2013). Adolescent Literacy: Strategies for content

comprehension in inclusive classrooms. In Boone, R. & Spencer, V. (Eds.), Adolescent
literacy strategies for content comprehension in inclusion classrooms. (p.1-10).
Baltimore, MD: Brooks Publishing.

Fair, C. G. & Combs, D. (2011). Nudging fledging teen readers from the nest: From round
robin to real reading. The Clearing House. 84, 224-230.

Use the template below to guide your inquiry process on diverse learners:

Create a presentation and use Voice Thread to narrate your presentation. Use the
link to Voice Thread found in the folder for the Literacy Autobiography.

Watch each of the presentations and take notes. Finally, respond to the prompt at
the bottom of the page for “After class.”

Inquiry Questions Notes from Other Presentations

How do I make sure that I am Brad, Alex, Libby
meeting the needs of all my
students? How do I keep everyone  Used “Literacy education and
engaged? How do I keep content disability studies article”
interesting for everyone?  Students, especially ELLs,
sometimes struggle reading
historical text
 Used an article that discusses
6 steps to know ELL
o Where is the student
o What brought the
student here?
o What should I know
about their family?
o What language(s) do
they speak?
o What kind of previous
schooling have they
o What are the student’s
interests? (Less formal,
but very important for
 Struggling students don’t
struggle bc of disabilities
 Focus on the disconnect
between learners and
 DSE – Literacy concerns are
an academic issue, making
us, the teachers, the experts
for support
 Find best possible literacies
that engage and support
 Acknowledge all students
deserve to be there – no
 All students have valuable
 Struggling does not define the
learner – no separation into
binary of able/not able
 Ensure that educators focus
on individual needs of
students rather than the class
as a whole
 Do not focus on problem with
struggling students but
instead, on the ability of them
to contribute
 Disconnect between content
and students and having the
ability to adjust
 Different options for text
 Allow students to share their
different perspectives,
backgrounds, and stories
when it relates to the content
In an inclusive classroom, how do Aubrey, Mirina, Darian, Tabitha
we meet the needs of gifted
students? How can we keep gifted  Teachers provided with little
students engaged in the general to no training to support
education classrooms? another type of diverse
learner – gifted students
 Personal anecdotes AND
scholarly material to discover
info on gifted students
 Schools are required to
identify a certain number of
gifted students BUT no
mandates on how to group
them and what specific
curriculum should be provided
to them
 NCLB focuses more on
struggling students and their
achievements, but not on
gifted students
 Teachers need to have an
active role in which they make
research-based decisions to
support effective literacy
instruction involving
increasingly difficult text
 Research has proven that
students need silent,
individual reading time, there
are negative effects in
assuming that students have
strong comprehension skills,
and it is beneficial to
incorporate a variety of
instructional activities to
scaffold reading for students
(plays, reading partners, read-
 Teaching Up: A lesson
created for high end learners
but differentiated for other
learners – brings low
achievers up to meet high
 Teachers need to conduct
research to effectively help
gifted students until specific
curriculum/policies are made
for them
 Use strategies that engaged,
scaffold, and inspire inquiry to
help prepare gifted students
for college/future careers
What can be done to help make Seth, Scott, Matthew
history a more engaging subject for
ELL students? What effect can  Stages + Characteristics of
literacy have on the future growth of Literacy
students? How can we construct an o Emerging Readers -
environment that incorporates all Basic
levels of student abilities? o Developing Readers –
Vocalize and self-
o Transitional Readers –
Monitor and self-pace
and evaluate
o Mature Readers –
Rapid development and
work-related tasks +
o Fluency of mature
readers: Work in zone
of proximal
 Strategies + Implementation
o Read Aloud/Rehearsal
o Plays
o Readers Theater
o Poetry
o Round Robin is
unorganized and
 Additional Findings
o Reading + Enjoyed
o Relevant to Student
o Round Robin
encourages poor habits
o Use Word Correction
per Minute to quantify
 Participation is valuable but
should not be forced
o Engage students
through familiar content
o Culturally relevant
o Provide opportunities for
 Help develop positive habits
of mind that help the
o Set ground
rules/procedures for the
o Prepare content in
o Routines
 Develop student skills and
abilities for self-efficacy
o Students become
responsible for their
own or group readings
o Independent practice +
silent reading

Why do we care about our students Dave, Mitch, Melody, Lukas

and are our classes friendly to ELL
students?  Use visual and multimedia
methods to keep ELL
students on track with
everyone else
 Students struggle because of
word level problems – they
cannot just identify words;
kids are not fluent and
struggle with vocabulary.
 How can students utilize
vocabulary efficiently?
 Solutions
o Motivate students to
read – offer assistance
as they read
o Keep reinforcing
o Strategy-based
learning; graphic
organizers for
o Scaffolding to increase
 When students are in a class
focused on content-based
literacy, they can achieve
more and have more
confidence. They become
more fluent and do word
problems that provide
 Frequent practice and a
safe/secure classroom

After Class

After going through the inquiry process and viewing all of the presentations respond to
the following prompt. What are the specific needs of diverse learners in your content
area, especially struggling readers, and what are some strategies you can use to
differentiate to meet their learning needs?

Revisiting my response to the initial prompt, those struggles are still very important to consider.
As one of the presentation states, some students are hardly encouraged to read, if encouraged
at all, by the people around them. They lack experience and/or interest in reading. On that note,
if a student lacks experience and has never been pushed to read casually, they cannot develop
any interest for it, so when we give them something to read for our class or another academic
purpose, they’ll be even less inclined to put it any sort of effort. It just becomes another tedious
task for them to get through. Two approaches that teachers should take in trying to tackle that
issue are: 1) provide students with texts that are relevant to their personalities and real-world
situations, 2) establish a clear purpose in reading. On that first approach, of course, many ELA
teachers have to follow a curriculum that makes them teach a text from a limited list of options,
but we can always supplement those texts with stories that share similar purposes or themes. If
students like comics, find a graphic novel version of the story you are teaching and encourage
them to read it as well as the normal version. On establishing purpose, make sure students
know that there’s a reason for reading a story beyond just “it’s what the curriculum requires,” or
“it’s an important piece of literature that you should know.” While as an English teacher, I may
acknowledge the significance of a story like Of Mice and Men, my students may not know or
even care that it’s important in the realm of literature. Teach students about how the themes in
those books relate to the modern era even though they may have been written decades ago.
Have them conduct their own personal research to find out why the story is significant, don’t just
tell them that it is and leave it at that. Students need to develop a positive attitude towards
reading if we expect them to be engaged and successful in what we have them read in class,
but simply throwing a story in front of them and having them write an analysis about it cannot do

I also found it important to note that one of the other presentations noted that teachers often
lack the knowledge and resources to implement strategies and/or modify instruction to
effectively teach diverse learners, both struggling and gifted. We can look at the students and
try changing what they do, but we should definitely try to improve ourselves as educators as
well. We should keep ourselves informed on topics related to diverse learners, attend
conferences, take classes if possible, and be open to trying new methods that could benefit

Works Cited

Vacca, Jo Anne L., Richard T. Vacca, and Maryann Mraz. Content Area Reading: Literacy and

Learning Across the Curriculum. 12th ed. Pearson, 2017. Print.