Field Experience: Student Support Plan Spring I Interview: Mary is a 23rd second semester freshmen majoring in Education.

She has Attention Deficit Disorder and an anxiety disorder. She was diagnosed with ADD in middle school, while in high school, she was diagnosed with having a problem with anxiety. She takes medication to regulate these. Mary has attended numerous middle, high schools as well as colleges in many states. Her first two colleges are in Vermont and Davie. Lynn is her third college. She believes the reason she kept moving to different schools is that she couldn’t find the right fit. The classes were either too hard, the teachers weren’t very nice, the weather was too cold, or the tutoring centers weren’t helpful. She loves Lynn because its tutoring center is very good at explaining concepts and guiding students. Profile: Strengths: Socially, Mary considers herself very friendly, generous, and social. She is content with having a few good friends as opposed to many acquaintances. If someone doesn’t like her, she doesn’t seem to mind. If there ever is a problem that arises with a friend she tries and tries to make it better. She admits to faults and is not afraid to ask for forgiveness. In relation to written communication, she considers herself a great speller as well as good at grammar. Her handwriting is neat and legible. Mary explains that she reads all the reading she is required to do for her Dialogues, yet she has trouble understanding it and writing about it. She says she likes math such as adding or subtracting.

Mary says that a character flaw she possesses is the habit of being very stubborn. In relation to academics, she has trouble with reading comprehension and writing essays. She goes blank while doing both She dislikes oral presentations because she gets too nervous saying it is hard to think and talk while standing up there. She has trouble with fractions and long division. Mary is a big procrastinator and is not very organized. One major aspect of hers is her large dependence on her tutor. She needs a tutor to help her with each assignment. Currently she goes to tutoring twice a week: Tuesdays and Wednesdays for a few hours. She relies on her tutors to help her throughout the process from beginning to end- from brainstorming to edit/proofreading and then to typing the final draft. Her reliance goes to the point that if she cannot get a hold of her tutor, she will try to reschedule or work with another one. She does not study during the weekends and waits for tutoring to start her papers. When she does study, she always ends up getting distracted in her room. After meeting with her two more times, I believe she is more interested in being friends with her tutors than actually working hard in college. Even though she sees them often, her grades do not reflect anything positive. I didn’t ask about her anxiety and what it entails. I wanted to ask her what sort of things she feels anxious about. I noticed her fidgeting and biting her nails but I don’t know how her thought processes affect her academic habits. Attributions: When she does badly in a paper or test, she holds herself accountable acknowledging that she didn’t put the right amount effort or correct information. Mary never mentioned that it was due to her teacher’s bad teaching, a bad day, or any other external reason. When she gets a good grade, she feels happy with herself as opposed to simply attributing it to good luck. She does not reward herself, however. If there is something challenging in a task, she persistently tries over and over until she is able to get somewhere. When asked about the value she put in each letter

grade, she says that a C is passing thus she is content with it. When she gets an F, she is not happy and blames herself. Overall, she seems like a mature adult who attributes her successes and failures to internal factors. Although sometimes that is not healthy when an individual blames themselves too much, Mary seems to have a healthy perception of her involvement and her abilities. After a few meetings, she attributes her success to her work with tutors. When she gets a bad grade, she claims she didn’t see her tutor. Support Plan: The plan consists of study skills, time management, writing tips, and attributions. For study tips, Mary has to use a highlighter when reading any reading material, especially her Dialogue book which is lengthy and difficult to read. Before reading, a good idea would be to read a brief summary of the story, or essay one has to read. It can spark the person’s interest to do so. Another strategy is to relate the text with one’s life in any matter. I made a printed example of Cornell notes with the divided sections where she can easily write her notes. A list of nine tips is also part of the plan. The following are the tips: 1. Study a little at a time--Short breaks for a snack, a walk around campus, watch 15 minutes of a movie. 2. Break big tasks into small tasks. 3. Find a good place to study free from distractions. 4. Plan specific times for studying--When do you work best? 5. Try to study at the same times each day. Stick to your schedule! 6. Prioritize your assignments: Work on the assignment you find most difficult 1st. 7. Don’t Daydream! 8. Review your notes before beginning an assignment. Finally 9. Reward yourself after you finish a task. In addition, Mary can benefit from breaking her big tasks into smaller checklists. When I met with her I made a list of three easy things to do in order to finish

her Persuasive Essay. She had to pick two readings from her book, then pick a news topic or entertainment one to compare them to and then actually compare and contrast them. I broke that into three steps. Choose two readings from book. 2. Choose either a news topic or entertainment one. 3. Compare and contrast them. After these three steps, she can go ahead and write the first draft. I believe Mary might have paralyzing fear keeping her from doing her work because she views the task to be too hard and impossible to do. By breaking them down, she can see that little steps can take her a long way. With relation to time management, she needs to take an initiative and build control over her time in order to achieve her goals. Since she has trouble keeping up with assignments, Mary needs an agenda where she can write her homework during each class period. She currently has one but it doesn’t provide enough space to write more than a few words for each day. She needs a detailed explanation of each assignment to help her complete it. For her writing issues, I provided her with graphic organizers to organize her thoughts before writing a five paragraph essay. These break things down visually and easily. The book provides for another strategy to writing essays that involves an acronym: PLEASE. P- Pick a topic, an audience, and the appropriate textual format. L- List information about the topic to be used in sentences generation. E- Evaluate if the list is complete and plan how to organize the ideas that will be used to generate supporting sentences. A- Activate the paragraph with a short and simple declarative topic sentence. S- Supply supporting sentences based on items from the list. E- End with a concluding sentence that rephrases the topic sentence and evaluate the written work for errors in capitalization, punctuation, spelling, and appearance.2 Even though she attributes her successes and failures to effort, she isn’t trying any harder. Goals could push her towards the right direction. However, the only difficult part with Mary is that she isn’t very truthful. She may not want me to know about her big struggles with school or

she may just be used to getting bad grades and has given up and has really no idea what to do. She needs to become aware of the dangerous road she is on. In order for her not to depend so much on her tutors is to let her know that she is able to do good work without her tutors. She is capable of completing and handing-in assignments. She needs to start being an independent learner. I suspect that she has to increase her self-confidence, motivation, and hopefulness. In order for her to turn in papers, I will tell her that it’s very important to turn all her homework assignments in. It’s better to turn homework in and get a C then not to turn in her homework and get a 0. I will help her set up a reward system. If she tries her best in all her assignments and turns in all her work, she can treat herself to a cupcake or any kind of dessert. Support Plan Implementation: In our last meeting, I noticed how Mary hadn’t continued to highlight her book. She had dropped out of the class that asked her to write an essay so she stopped the process we started. However, I believe that she started breaking down her assignments into smaller ones after I showed her how to. She also started studying in the library more often. Hopefully, she uses the templates to aid her in writing her five paragraph essays. She did not get an agenda with bigger space. She continues to depend on her tutor but I think she is getting some self confidence in herself. In that last meeting, I had her fill out a goal worksheet. She acknowledged that if she doesn’t turn in her assignments, she can get kicked out of the school. She added that not only will she go to more tutoring sessions but she will try to do things herself. I noticed that her tutoring schedule indicated only three times a week and the most she meets with the tutors is one hour. That’s not enough time to complete homework assignments. She will have no choice but to

invest more time alone to do them. A picture of the sheet is attached. I chose this goal sheet because I really liked its structure and how it also includes rewards at the end. Mary needs to turn in homework! I truly believe that if she starts believing in herself, understands that she needs to work harder, sets goals, and continues with these strategies, she can be a more independent worker and successful college student.

Reflection I enjoyed meeting Mary and working with her. She was very friendly and it was easy to set up meetings with her. However, during the process, I’ve realized that it is difficult working

with a student with learning differences because he or she may not be aware of what the problem is or might not want to change their current situation. They might use the disability as an excuse to not try hard enough. I believe my student was so accustomed to moving schools that she had no intention of trying harder and excelling. She was not alarmed with her grades. She seemed ok, or maybe she didn’t reveal her true feelings to me. I had no idea she was doing bad in school. It was good that she wrote the reality on her goal sheet. It’s a tough task to have them acknowledge that they can always improve when effort is increased. It’s sometimes hard to ask a student to be serious about their situation. Some have no intention of working harder. I think Mary wants to do well but doesn’t know how to or is willing to work harder. Her answer has always been to depend on tutors, even though with their help, she still doesn’t excel. I learned to follow up on a student’s progress and develop a support plan, tailored to their specific needs. I acknowledge that all this was a process. A student won’t change from one day to the next. She needs time to slowly change and wean herself off a tutor. Even though she may need a tutor for the rest of her college life, she can be more independent and responsible for her own stuff. I also learned that I cannot force someone to take my advice and do everything I think is correct. I also learned how to be tactful in asking questions. I was careful not to hurt her feelings or talk about unwanted topics. A student with learning differences shouldn’t feel like something is wrong with them.

References

Graphic Organizers. http://www.teachervision.fen.com/graphicorganizers/printable/6293.html?detoured=1 Mercer, Cecil D. & Pullen, Paige C. 7th Ed. (2009). Students with Learning Disabilities. New Jersey: Pearson. “The Ten Study Habits of Successful Students.” http://www.how-to-study.com/studyskills/en/study-groups.asp

Field Observation Report I observed at Hammock Pointe Elementary on Tuesday the 14th and Thursday the 17th of February for four hours each day. The type of setting is full inclusion. The special ed. teacher helps out with first grade math, first grade language arts, fourth grade math, and finally, fourth grade language arts. In first grade math and language arts, the ESE teacher pulls four or five students to the back of the classroom and helps them out. During fourth grade math, the special ed. teacher does not pull them out but rather goes around the room helping out the students in their own seats as they do the practice with the entire class under the instruction of the general education teacher. Many of the students are language impaired, have specific learning disabilities, and two have autism spectrum disorder. Differences and similarities: The students with learning disabilities spoke slower and raised their hand less often than the children without disabilities. Some of them spoke very softly and mumbled, making it hard to understand what they were saying. Altogether, they were much quieter than the other children who would chit chat, eagerly raise their hand, or shout out an answer. The students with disabilities usually spent more time on the math and writing exercises. The first grade students with disabilities had a lot of trouble copying their homework into their agendas. Since it took them longer to grasp the concepts, extra practice was given to them. In addition to all this, they get distracted, discouraged, or bored very easily. Reading was very tricky for most. There was a girl who especially had a hard time reading and doing the math. She has a visual impairment that was only slightly alleviated by thick glasses. The math lesson involved adding and subtracting two digit numbers and the students with disabilities took more days then the rest of the class to understand the process of calculating the answer. In fourth grade

language arts, two or three students were taken aside to a table and the teacher helped them expound on their sentences. The rest of the class wrote on their own. Similarities are that some of the students without learning disabilities also got bored and yawned or got distracted. Not all students without learning disabilities were able to do the practice without help. They also asked for extra help and got a little frustrated. Teaching method: The teacher would sit in front of the students and monitored their progress. This happens in a long desk at the back of the room. She gave them all her attention and each student had individual weaknesses the teacher targeted. She modified some first grade assignments, like for example the spelling words for one boy who was having trouble with words starting with “c” and “m” while the others had words with a “u” in the middle such as duck, mud, and cub. I loved a strategy the teacher used that implicated a folder that had three slits in it that created three different flaps. The flaps said “look,” “say,” and “cover.” Students were to flip open the first one and copy the spelling word in a sheet of paper tucked inside the folder. Then they would open the next flap called “say,” and they’d say the names of the letters as they wrote them. Finally, the students would cover all of the flaps except the last one called “cover” and try to write the same spelling word by memory. In first grade reading, she read the four page story and asked each student to read it after her, individually and out loud. She asked some to repeat some sentences to enforce fluency. In fourth grade math, she goes around the room, helping out four particular students. She and the general education teacher cooperate together by taking turns and feeding off each other when explaining some math problem and the reasoning behind the answer.

Teacher Interview Response to Intervention (RtI) is very popular in Hammock Pointe. The teachers really support it and practice it. They have three tiers, the first being the all group instruction. The special education teacher was one of the coordinators of it. She also does tier two. I happen to observe one of her interventions with a child. It was individual and involved a first grade boy who was taking first grade for the second time. The teacher worked on phonics with him. He had to learn the letter name, key word, and letter sound with the help of some flash cards. Tier two has students receiving thirty additional minutes of supported instruction for math, science, or reading. In total, students got ninety minutes of practice with the thirty extra minutes. Tier two and three can take up from six to eight weeks in Hammock Pointe. Tier three can include language intervention with a speech pathologist. There are classrooms in this elementary dedicated to speech and language. The intervention is more rigorous. The boy went to tier two for phonics and tier three for language. For reading, the book sets used are Triumphs from Macmillan which are deemed good intervention books. The ESE teacher mentioned that she had to fill out weekly reports on the student’s progress and meet with the parents regularly. Unfortunately, she didn’t like the progress the little boy was having. She doubted that he would get promoted to second grade. She mentioned that placement into ESE is very difficult and could take up to a year. If the instruction within tiers is not working, teachers have to think of different methods and the duration can be extended beyond eight weeks. I asked if the IQ discrepancy model was used but she said that it all depends on the student. Even though Response to Intervention is their primary method, a couple of students in her classes have taken the test. One of them reached a score just high enough to be in an inclusion classroom.

During the other interview, the teacher mentioned her opposing opinion towards full inclusion. She missed the resource room and thought it to be more beneficial for students. It’s for them to keep up with the regular gen. ed. class. Mrs. Gallagher mentioned again that it all depends on the students. Sometimes it is a perfect fit with the student and sometimes it isn’t. It’s important to also consider how incredibly difficult it is for the general education teacher to have to juggle so much in order to meet the needs of a classroom full of students with different exceptionalities. Even with a special education teacher helping out, it’s challenging.

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