Diverse learners Tools


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Diverse learners Tools

  1. 1. David Schlusselberg Professor RothwachsTools PortfolioTitle of Tool:Wait TimeDescription of Tool: It can sometimes be difficult for an enthusiastic teacher to slow down thepace of a lesson. When a teacher performs a check for understanding and wishes to see if thestudents have grasped the material, more often than not, the teacher finds himself/herself callingon the first student whose hand is raised. After posing a question to the class, a teacher shouldallow the student’s time to process the question and think of an answer. “When these periods ofsilence lasted at least 3 seconds, many positive things happened to students and teachersbehaviors and attitudes” (Stahl, 1995).Application: There are many points throughout a lesson when wait time can be implemented.Moments to incorporate wait time include: when raising a question to the class, when allowing astudent who pauses during a response to think his thought through carefully and to pause afterthe student finishes his/her response (Stahl, 1995). “From the speaker’s perspective, the pausemight represent an opportunity to reflect on what has been said and to consider what to say next.That is, the pause provides a speaker with an opportunity to think” (Tobin, 1986). This tool willbe even more beneficial for students with learning disabilities who need more time processinginformation.Application Limits: The only potential downside to wait time is too much wait time. If theteacher pauses for an exuberant amount of time, it opens the window to the students losinginterest in the question, and may cause some students to even forget their planned responses.
  2. 2. The fear though, is not that teachers will use to much wait time, but more often than not, teachersdo not provide enough wait time.Application Challenges in Jewish settings: The only plausible difference with implementingthis tool in a Jewish setting, is that a Gemara teacher should be aware that wait time may cause abreak in the flow of the Gemara. However, in most cases, wait time is a powerful tool thatshould be implemented in all settings.Personal Reflection: The first time I experienced this tool was when I was a student in Azrielilast year. At first, I was confused why the teacher didn’t call on the student whose hand wasraised first, and then, as more questions were posed I realized it was a deliberate tactic. It was avery liberating feeling as a student to know that I didn’t have to rush my thinking process, and Icould take the time to process the question, and formulate a response. Since that moment, I havealways been a tremendous advocate for wait time, and realize its value in education.Resources and References:Api_5814_user322090. (n.d.).Effects of Teacher Wait Time on Discourse Characteristics inMathematics.Scribd. Retrieved from http://www.scribd.com/doc/24551819/Effects-of-Teacher-Wait-Time-on-Discourse-Characteristics-in-MathematicsUsing "Think-Time" and "Wait-Time" Skillfully in the Classroom. ERIC Digest.(n.d.).ERICDigests.Org. Retrieved from http://www.ericdigests.org/1995-1/think.htm
  3. 3. Title of Tool: Visual TimersDescription of Tool: Students with Asperger’s syndrome are wired to cling to their schedules.In order to prevent a student from being under tremendous anxiety, any change in the dailyschedule must be told to these students hours in advance. These students rely on visual aids toprocess information. They require a hard copy of the daily schedule, and need to see everythingin writing. In order to help them manage time, a visual timer enables them to follow how muchlonger they have to complete an assignment. Due to their punctual nature, and their demand toknow every step of the process, a visual timer gives them ownership over time.Application: A visual timer can be used by a teacher in a variety of settings, including: testtaking, classroom assignments, meetings with the student, homework etc. This tool is appropriatefor all students and for all ages, regardless of whether they have special learning needs or not.Although it is a benefit for other types of learners, for students with Asperger’s this tool becomesmore of a necessity (Dettmer, S., Simpson, R. L., Myles, B. S., &Ganz, J. B., 2000).Application Limits: There are no limits on this tool, and it can be used for all students of allages.Application Challenges in Jewish Settings: There should be no additional challenges thatwould be faced using this tool in a Jewish setting than in a non-Jewish setting.Personal Reflection: I believe the benefits for this strategy will make it much easier to run aclassroom for students with Asperger’s syndrome. This tool provides tremendous structure to aclassroom, and enables the students to feel like they know exactly what is going to happen. It isa rather inexpensive tool which can be implemented multiple times daily. In my Azrieli classwith Dr. Feuerman, Teaching Jewish Studies, he uses this tool almost every lesson. When wework together in groups, he puts on the screen an electric hourglass and timer that makes it clear
  4. 4. to us exactly how much time we have left for group work. It allows us to pace our work, andgives us a clear understanding of how much time we have left. It is a simple tool that hastremendous benefits.Resources and References:Dettmer, S., Simpson, R. L., Myles, B. S., &Ganz, J. B. (2000).The Use of VisualSupports to Facilitate Transitions of Students with Autism.Focus on Autism and OtherDevelopmental Disabilities, 15(3), 163-169. doi: 10.1177/108835760001500307Visual timers can be purchased at the National Autism Resources websiteat:http://www.nationalautismresources.com/time-timer.html.
  5. 5. Title of tool: Peer TutoringDescription of Tool: In an educational utopia, the lessons would consist of a teacher teaching astudent in a one-on-one setting. Although this is nearly impossible, the same benefits may beachieved in a peer tutoring environment. While students are working together to learn a lesson,both students (in a 2 person peer tutoring structure) are actively engaged in the material. “Whenpeer tutoring is used within a system, each student assumes the role of tutor and tutee within eachsession” (Heron, T., Villareal, D., Yao, M., Christianson, R., & Heron, K., 2006).Activeinvolvement in the material will automatically help them learn the material better, andcomprehend the lesson on a deeper level than had they been passive listeners in the classroom.While the peer tutoring is occurring, the teacher in the classroom can walk from group to groupvisually observing which students understand the material, and help those that may needassistance.Application: Peer tutoring can be implemented during various sections of a lesson. The teachermay choose to star the lesson by having students learn new material in a peer tutoring session. Ateacher may also choose to use it as a check for understanding, while students work together on aworksheet to demonstrate the learning that had just occurred.Studies have shown that peertutoring can also produce positive outcomes amongst children with autism (Heron, T., Villareal,D., Yao, M., Christianson, R., & Heron, K., 2006), and with ADHD (Plumer, P. J., 2005).Application Limits: The disadvantage to peer tutoring is that it can be difficult to monitor all thesimultaneous groups learning. A problem can arise when multiple groups need assistance fromthe teacher(s) in the classroom. Since the students are learning the material at their own pace,the teacher should provide an anchor activity to provide structure to those students who finish thematerial before their time expired.
  6. 6. Application Challenges in Jewish settings: The Jewish studies curriculum in Jewish dayschools can make it more difficult to apply peer tutoring. Since most issues with Judaic studiesstem from difficulties in grasping the Hebrew and Aramaic languages, the students have tostruggle with the language barrier as well as the content of the material.Personal Reflection: Peer tutoring not only helps the students learn and retain information betterthan frontal teaching, but it also enables the teacher to maximize his/her time by meeting withstudents one-on-one, or by visually observing how the students are learning the information.Peer tutoring also allows the students to change gears from their daily ritual of sitting in a deskand taking notes. I see tremendous advantages in this tool and feel its implementation canpositively change the dynamics of a classroom.Resources and References:Heron, T., Villareal, D., Yao, M., Christianson, R., & Heron, K. (2006). Peer Tutoring Systems:Applications in Classroom and Specialized Environments. Reading & Writing Quarterly, 22(1),27-45.doi: 10.1080/10573560500203517Plumer, P. J. (2005). The Relative Effects of Classwide Peer Tutoring and Peer Coaching on the PositiveSocial Behaviors of Children With ADHD. Journal of Attention Disorders, 9(1), 290-300. doi:10.1177/1087054705280796
  7. 7. Title of tool: Differentiated InstructionDescription of Tool: Differentiated instruction allows a class to learn the same requiredmaterial, while simultaneously enabling each student to learn it on their own level. Thisdichotomy is able to co-exist due to hands-on learning by the students. Either, after havingtaught material, the teacher will either hand out a worksheet that is geared to different levels oflearning, or, the teacher will have the student’s learn the material in groups through DI sourcesheets. While working on the material in groups, the teacher has the freedom to go form groupto group making sure everyone in the group is working together, and that the students can askany questions they need. This tool enables the students to learn on their own level. “It is also ofcritical importance for teachers to have an understanding that, if they are to learn how to usereading and writing strategies, struggling students often need explicit, direct and extendedinstruction beyond what is provided in the whole-class setting” (Tobin, R., &McInnes, A., 2008)Application: This tool can be used by a teacher who wants the students to learn the materialthrough differentiated instruction. The teacher will then provide different source sheets of thematerial, and a variety of aids for the weaker students to gain the same information. The teachermay choose to teach the material to the whole class, and decide to use a source sheet throughdifferentiated instruction. For the weaker students in the class, it gives them the tools necessaryto learn the required material for the texts, without feeling overwhelmed by material that is toodifficult for them. For the more advanced students in the class, DI allows them to maximizetheir learning potential. The teacher can ask questions on an advanced worksheet that goesbeyond the scope of the initial lesson, and may ask more thought provoking questions that isdirectly applied to the lesson just learnt. This tool can be very useful in teaching students withspecial needs because of the wide range of disabilities in a typical special education classroom.
  8. 8. Application Limits: The main difficulty in applying DI is the time it takes for a teacher toprepare a DI lesson. This factor scares off many teachers from every trying a differentiatedlesson in a classroom. Teachers should know that it is not an all-or-nothing approach todifferentiated instruction, and they should certainly try to implement it in small incrementsthroughout the school semester.Application Challenges in Jewish Settings: In a Jewish setting the added component of readingforeign languages (Hebrew and Aramaic) makes it even more important to integratedifferentiated instruction. If there was no DI, and a group was given a Hebrew text, the weakerstudents who may not know majority of the words may give up at the start of the lesson. Bygiving punctuation, definitions and syntax to the Hebrew words on a worksheet, it makes groupwork much more manageable for a weaker student.Personal Reflection: I have seen DI implemented in a classroom, and it is amazing to see theactive participation of all the students in the classroom. There isn’t a student in there who feelsoverwhelmed by what they are learning, and if any group has a question, the teacher is free tocome over and help them. DI gives the students independence to learn at their own pace and attheir own level. I think more teachers should begin to implement DI on a regular basis.Resources and References:Tobin, R., &McInnes, A. (2008).Accommodating differences: Variations in differentiatedliteracy instruction in Grade 2/3 classrooms.Literacy, 42(1), 3-9. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-9345.2008.00470.x
  9. 9. Title of tool: Cooperative TeachingDescription of Tool:Co-teaching is a method where two trained teachers are working together toteach a classroom. There are a wide variety of ways that co-teaching can be implemented. Co-teaching can mean that one teacher teaches the entire lesson to the class, while the other teacher(usually a special education teacher) helps out those students that need the most assistance.Other co-teaching environments may have both teachers each present half the material of alesson to the whole class, while then working together to assess the students. This form of co-teaching exposes the students to different learning styles throughout each lesson learnt. Havingtwo teachers with different teaching styles allows the teachers to learn from one another.However co-teaching is done in a classroom, both teachers share the load of the students, andwork together to be sure that all students are keeping up with the pace of the class(Harbort, G.,Gunter, P. L., Hull, K., Brown, Q., Venn, M. L., Wiley, L. P., & Wiley, E. W., 2007). .Application:In recent years, co-teaching has become much more used in general educationsettings because of government actions. “Co-teaching, collaboration between a generaleducation teacher and a special education teacher on all aspects of classroom teaching andmanagement for all students in the classroom, has come to the forefront as a way to (a) addressthe mandates of NCLB and (b) provide the mandated assistance for students with disabilities ofthe Individuals with Disabilities Education Act” (Harbort, G., Gunter, P. L., Hull, K., Brown, Q.,Venn, M. L., Wiley, L. P., & Wiley, E. W., 2007). Co-teaching is now used primarily for thespecial educator in the classroom to help assist the students in the class with learning disabilities.The co-teachers still need to work together, and plan curriculum and instruction together for theclassroom.
  10. 10. Application Limits: It is never a disadvantage to have more helpful hands in a classroom.However, depending on the number of students in the classroom, and the number of children inthe classroom with learning disabilities who may require even more attention, two sets of handsmay not be enough. It can be difficult in a class of 25 students, five of whom have some form ofa learning disability, to give every student the direct attention they may need.Application Challenges in Jewish settings: In a Jewish setting co-teaching may be moredifficult due to the wide-range of Jewish and secular curriculum the school wishes to cover.Other than the quantitative challenges to co-teaching in a Jewish setting, qualitatively, thereshould be no difference between a secular and Jewish setting.Personal Reflection: With a tremendous focus placed on the need for better education andeducators, the greater implementation of co-teaching is a step in the right direction. Besides allthe obvious benefits of co-teaching which I described above, I think it also provides theopportunity for the co-teachers to evaluate each other’s performance. It is detrimental to aschool if a poor quality teacher is teaching students for a whole year (or more in many cases)without having ever been observed by an administrator for evaluation.I think there is a way forthe co-teachers to guide each other to become great teachers, and I don’t mean for them to go tothe principal to have the other fired for poor teaching. If they work together as a team, they canfine tune their teaching abilities, and allow maximum learning and student success to take placein the classroom.Resources and References:Harbort, G., Gunter, P. L., Hull, K., Brown, Q., Venn, M. L., Wiley, L. P., & Wiley, E. W.(2007). Behaviors of Teachers in Co-taught Classes in a Secondary School.Teacher
  11. 11. Education and Special Education: The Journal of the Teacher Education Division of theCouncil for Exceptional Children, 30(1), 13-23. doi: 10.1177/088840640703000102
  12. 12. Tool: Verbal PraiseDescription of Tool: Words can be cheap. Everyone has experienced bumping into a friend onthe street who asks us, “How are you doing?” Often, we get the sense that this person doesn’treally care how we are doing; rather, he/she asks the question because it is the proper protocolwhen you see someone you know. In the classroom, students can inherently sense when acomment from a teacher is genuine or not. When a teacher gives genuine verbal praise to astudent, it can have tremendous impacts on this students learning and motivation. A study on thissubject “revealed that graduate students exposed to well-administered verbal praise by aprofessor performed significantly better on a professor-created examination, spent significantlymore time doing homework and exhibited higher motivation to learn in the classroom than didstudents who received no verbal praise” (Hancock, D. R., 2002).When a teacher makes a studentfeel good about their academic success (even by a student answering a question), the student ismotivated to continue impress the teacher by their academic success.Application:Throughout every lesson, a teacher will be challenged with how they respond to thecomments, questions and answers of students. The response of the teacher has the potential torelay to the student that they simply don’t care about their comment, or can have the positiveeffect, when done properly, that they are acknowledging the students achievement. The responseof a teacher to a student with a learning disability is even more critical. The teacher must relaythe message that they care about the comment the student is giving, and validate the students’emotional needs with appropriate praise. “Effective verbal praise must (a) specify clearly thebehavior being reinforced; (b) be believable to the recipient of the praise; (c) be contingent uponthe behavior being reinforced; and (d) be offered soon after the occurrence of the behavior beingreinforced” (Burden, 1995; Woolfolk, 1998).
  13. 13. Application Limits: The danger to verbal praise is false praise, and too much praise. As I wroteabove, if a teacher doesn’t mean the praise they give to a student, that certainly has the potentialto do more harm than good. The students have a natural sense for what is a genuine commentand what is not. Sometimes a teacher can give too much praise, heavily diluting the effect a truepraise can have.Application Challenges in Jewish settings: There are no differences that would occur in aJewish setting that would not occur in a secular setting.Personal Reflection:Verbal praise is one of the most powerful tools that a teacher can use whendone correctly. In my own experience, I was always more motivated in the learning when I hada teacher that made me feel good about myself on an academic level. I didn’t want to disappointthem, and they made me believe in myself. I think of the difference between a teacher that givesover positive verbal praise and one that does not as the difference between a teacher who viewsteaching as a job, and one who views teaching as a way to help children.Resources and References:Hancock, D. R. (2002).Influencing graduate students classroom achievement, homework habitsand motivation to learn with verbal praise.Educational Research, 44(1), 83-95. doi:10.1080/00131880110107379
  14. 14. Tool:Extrinsic RewardsDescription of Tool:Every teacher is going to have at least one student who doesn’t perform tothe teacher’s expectations. Some students need extra motivation to get them to maximize theirpotential. Providing a student with an external motivator as a reward can allow the student toreach the teacher’s desired outcome because of the appealing reward. The goal of the teacher isto wean this student off of the reward system while still receiving scholastic success from thatstudent. Besides rewards being used to academically motivate a student, rewards areimplemented to eradicate an undesired behavior. However the system between the teacher andstudent is set up, the root is the same in every case – the removal of the undesired behavior willearn the student a reward. Hopefully, the teacher will soon be able to expect the proper behaviorfrom the student without the extrinsic motivator of a reward.Application:There is often a correlation between a student’s behavior and their academicperformance. “When students have low self-esteem in academics, they may revert to means otherthan schoolwork for obtaining attention. Attention-seeking behaviors are among the mostcommon forms of student noncompliance” (Witzel, B. S., & Mercer, C. D., 2003). If a rewardsystem is working for a student, it is not only solving this student’s academic issues, but mayalso eradicate this student’s behavioral issues. In a special-educational environment, the needsfor a rewards system may be even greater than in a mainstream educational classroom. “Inspecial education, dealing with student behavior is important for minimizing distractions andhaving students focus on academic topics. It is logical to assume that classroom management is aconcern for students with disabilities who may have repeatedly failed academically”(Witzel, B.S., & Mercer, C. D., 2003).
  15. 15. Application Limits: There is great debate over the effects of extrinsic rewards. Many believethat a rewards system is not a good method to gain a desired behavior from a student (Moberly,D. A., Waddle, J. L., & Duff, R. E. (2005). If a child grows up performing on a task because of aextrinsic reward, what is going to happen when the rewards cease when the child goes out intothe “real world.” It is also maintained that a teacher should not be rewarding a child for abehavior that is expected of them; rewards are supposed to be used in situations to motivatesomeone to act beyond the call of duty. Even for those who argue that a rewards system is apositive thing to implement, it still poses its challenges. It may seem unfair to the majority of theclass that a student is being rewarded for a specific positive behavior he/she performs, while therest of the class has been behaving well the entire year!Application Challenges in Jewish settings: Since Yeshiva tuition is at an all-time high, andseems to be climbing every year, the student’s may feel like they are entitled to behave as theyplease. This feeling of entitlement can cause more students to misbehave in Jewish schools thanthose in the public school system. It may be more difficult for a teacher to implement rewardssystems for tens of people in each class they teach, and may have to deal with the behavioralissues with a different tactic.Personal Reflection: Rewards systems are a very gray area in education. Every situation mustbe analyzed carefully, and many factors go into assessing if an extrinsic reward will help astudent. From my experience as an assistant youth director at BneiYeshurun in Teaneck, I haveseen that the first few weeks a reward is in place, the desired behavior may be met, however, thereward quickly goes from an incentive to an expectation (my personal example was with givingout baseball cards during groups).
  16. 16. Resources and References:Moberly, D. A., Waddle, J. L., & Duff, R. E. (2005). The use of rewards and punishment in earlychildhood classrooms.Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 25(4), 359-366.doi: 10.1080/1090102050250410Witzel, B. S., & Mercer, C. D. (2003).Using Rewards to Teach Students with Disabilities:Implications for Motivation.Remedial and Special Education, 24(2), 88-96. doi:10.1177/07419325030240020401
  17. 17. Tool:RoboMemo (Improving Working Memory)Description of Tool:It is often difficult for some children in a classroom to keep up with theirfellow peers. There are a myriad of reasons why a student may be struggling. If a student has adifficulty in reading skills at a young age, they may never catch up to the rest of their class(Torgesen, J. K., Alexander, A. W., Wagner, R. K., Rashotte, C. A., Voeller, K. K., & Conway,T., 2001). It is known that many early interventions can prevent these students from falling toofar behind the rest of the class. Sometimes, even early reading interventions to help studentswith phonological awareness and letter identification fail. It was discovered improving astudent’s working memory will cause a student to improve their reading comprehension.Application: Students who used a computer program for thirty minutes a day for a five weekperiod reported to have tremendous gains in their working memory. RoboMemo was designedto ask each student questions to help improve the following areas: nonverbal reasoning, workingmemory, and reading. Many different methods were used by RoboMemo to help train thestudent in those three areas. The computer system was designed to ask questions to target theirspecific reading level, and was adapted each day based on the previous day’s learning. Thisprogram can be used with students who are in mainstream classes as well as students in specialeducation classes (Dahlin, 2010).Application Limits: The greatest difficulty with implementing this system to improve astudent’s working memory is the amount of effort that is needed by the teacher, school andstudent. To properly improve working memory, roughly twenty hours of non-classroom effortsare needed to use RoboMemo. A teacher is supposed to be present while the child is using thecomputer program in case the student needs assistance on any questions. This time requirement
  18. 18. may be difficult to comply with. It will certainly reshape a child’s academic future, if a school isable to accommodate for the needs of students who can benefit from the use of RoboMemoApplication Challenges in Jewish settings: The time requirement for positive results fromusing RoboMemo are even more difficult to comply with in a Jewish setting. With double thecurriculum to learn, tremendous self-sacrifice is needed for a student to spend an extra period aday improving his/her working memory.Personal Reflection: When a child is struggling learning how to read, anything that can be doneto help improve his/her reading should be done. Reading is probably the most integral skill weneed to succeed in life. No matter how money, time, or energy is required to help a childbecome a better reader, a school should do anything they can to make sure the child receiveseverything they need.Resources and References:Dahlin,I.E. (2010) Effects of working memory training on reading in children with special needs.(n.d.).Mendeley Research Networks. Retrieved fromhttp://www.mendeley.com/research/effects-working-memory-training-reading-children-special-needs/Torgesen, J. K., Alexander, A. W., Wagner, R. K., Rashotte, C. A., Voeller, K. K., & Conway,T. (2001).Intensive remedial instruction for children with severe reading disabilities: Immediate and long-termoutcomes from two instructional approaches. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 32(1), 33–58.