Adaptations in Practice

WOW 3 weeks over already! Pre-internship was amazing, I had the opportunity to teach Science 9 and a few lesson in Science 10 at Them Collegiate. I had a wonderful experience but learning one thing the adapting for student makes a world of a difference, not only for students but also for Learning Resource Teachers and Educational Assistants.

The class I spent the most time with had 11 students who required alternate learning needs, from needing scribing to using a computer to complete assignments and needing assignments blown up and given more space to complete assignments. Going in I was unsure of how to adapt assignments and notes, lucky my cooperating teacher had a good grasp on how to help each student.

Although I didn’t have much freedom with the classroom environment, as we were only there for 3 weeks. I was able to come up with my own assignments as well as change my co-op’s assignments as I wished. One major challenge that I faced was adapting to each student that needed it, since I had a high number of students that needed adaptations, I found myself spending a lot of time doing extra planning. Lucky some students needed similar adaptations so I killed two birds with one stone.

I had one student who I worked closely with when other students were working. I got advice from other teachers to just scribe for this student as it will be impossible to read his writing. Thinking other staff knew what was best, as they had worked with him longer, I took their advice and got support for him to have a scribe. But as the days went by I quit asking my co-op or my partner to scribe for him and here is why. Although this “adaptation” was to help him, I thought that maybe it was really in place to help the teachers, to make their life easier. So I thought to myself, if he is ALWAYS having someone write for him, his writing will never improve, and what if this student now depends on having a scribe? As I thought to myself, now if I make this decision to not have a scribe for him will this hurt or help him? Because this student was fully capable in knowing the answers and his writing was just messy, on smaller assignments he wrote them himself, and on larger time-crunched things like exams, he had a scribe.

Another example is when the two periods were given an exam, both classes got the same exam on the same content, again as it wasn’t my main class, I only had little say. For the exam there was word banks for some of the questions, if those words banks were not there for the period 2 Science 9 class the results would have been a lot worse then they were. But once period 4 Science 9 class began writing and I was walking around, surprised at how fast they were finishing compared to the first class, I thought to myself, we are adapting for students who are on the lower end but never adapting for the high end. I decided that if that would have been my class, I simply would have took out the word banks because they were not needed. For a small percentage of the period 4 class, it might have changed their marks drastically but for a large percentage, it would have challenged the students but would not change their grade in the end.

This realization made me wonder why some adaptations are in place, are they in place because teachers result them to save their own ass or is it actually help the student succeed in school. I will continue adapting content and assignments for different students but I always want to know the true reason behind the adaptations, because it can truly make a difference in a child’s education experience.

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How Adapting Benefits Students

Adaptation in the classroom benefit students by allowing students to become independent in their learning, they become confident and inspired to learn. Regardless if we are adapting the learning environment, content or assessment, we are giving students the best possible chance to succeed. Doing well in school isn’t about students fitting into the teachers style, but instead to teacher doing their best to reach students ability. This gives students control of their own learning and blends many different ways of learning into one classroom, this gives the class a dynamic and positive feel.

Just like any clothing that we buy, one size does not fit all and school should be that way too. As we have experienced, the process is more beneficial and important than the product, if that means allowing students to take different routes to get the the end result. They will gain more along the way than if they information was transferred from student to teacher.

To conclude, adapting in the classroom can benefit students who have are at a lower level of learning but also can help challenge student who are ahead. When doing this, students gain independence and autonomy of their work and themselves.

Adapting Assessment

Prior to being in the education program, I thought assessment strictly meant assignments and exams. Very few times did I get offered different assessment, if so it was due to missing the exam date resulting in being given a harder exam. Throughout these classes, I understand the importance of having multiple ways of assessment.

Ways to adapt assessment are involving students in the process, such a creating rubrics, deciding how much assignments are worth and self or peer assessment. A way to really adapt assessment to students is having a few specific points of what each students need to work on in their rubrics. Therefore, it is still differentiating for each student but still having manageable and reasonable work.

As we touched on in class, using GRASPS. This allows students to have a real world application, this can help them in making connections. Also this could be put in place of a definition question but getting the students to relate it to a real life. This way students will remember the content versus having to memorize and forget it.

Using pre-assessment and building a relationship with students will be the easiest way to adapt assessment. You gain knowledge on how students learn best, doing this and other strategies to adapt assessment and help the students in your classroom become better learners.

 

Sources:

Davies, A. Making Classroom Assessment Work, 2011.

Adapting in Science

Since my area is science, I wanted to take a deeper look at my subject area. What more can I do within my classroom to helps students? Some simple ways to help students is to label all instruments, models and their parts, demonstrate the lab activity or have the student practice using the instruments such as a microscope or pouring chemicals.

Pre-assessment can really help with knowing where students need to start to advance their learning. When listing the instructions for the day, use words that vary levels  of vocabulary, that way students have the chance to still understand without feeling defeated before the activity has started. This also prevents mistakes in the lab for simply not understanding the procedure.

Applying knowledge to real life situations allows students to make a connection to what they already know. For example when discussing phase changes or chemical reactions, use reactions that can be show in class to make that connection stronger. In science, adaptations can mean allowing students to understand content better and perform better, these adaptations although small make a big difference in the science classroom.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.state.nj.us/education/archive/frameworks/science/chap9b.pdf

http://utdr.utoledo.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1009&context=learningtoteach

Everyday Adaptations

Everyday adaptations to me are things we can do within our classroom environment and small changes to our daily routine that can impact our students. Some everyday adaptations I have thought about doing in my own classroom includes how the physical classroom looks, if its groups, wheely chairs, posters etc. Another is giving verbal and written instructions, this reaches to a variety of students whether they are forgetful, prefer auditory or visual learning, as well to keep our students on task and on track. To continue, using larger font on worksheets or instruction sheets, this is a slight change that will not negatively affect other children but it can be a positive on for one student.

These everyday adaptations do not have to be large, just small changes that we can do for our students but make their day goes smoothly. The question we should ask ourselves is, “is this hurting anyone but helping at least one students?” and if the answer is yes then make that little change and out that agenda on the board or that wheely chair in your classroom. Life is hard enough already, try to make is a bit better everyday.