Despite the fact that I used to work in a district with a high number of special needs students, I never received any valuable or useful training in accommodating instruction other than the training I received as an undergraduate, which was much too general to be of much help. In my staff meetings and grade level meetings, I was told to differentiate, but was not given any strategies or tools to use in differentiation. I ended up searching for ideas online, but it is just not the same as formal instruction.
I really enjoyed the PowerPoint called, "Adaptations for Struggling Literacy Learners". Almost every slide provided useful, easy to implement strategies that I can start using in my classroom tomorrow. I found the section on peer mediated remediation to be especially helpful. As teachers, I am sure we've all stuck a struggling reader with one of the star students. According to the slides, a better strategy is to pair a struggling student with a just slightly stronger student so that they can both benefit. This idea really had not crossed my mind, but it makes a lot of sense. It makes me think about my own math instruction in particular. When I first had to teach math on my own, I never felt like a did a very good job of explaining new concepts. Math has always been pretty simple for me. I am a logical thinker and because of this, many math concepts have just always made sense to me. Because of this, it was hard, at first, to relate to students who could not visualize simple concepts. To me, two plus two equals four. Period. I could not explain WHY, it's just how it is. Again, I called upon the power of the internet to solve my problem and found different ways to explain concepts in different way, I started to use manipulatives more effectively, and I tried to think more like a struggling students. Even more effective, however, was the use of math centers. I started using the centers to allow for small group instruction, but there was also an added benefit...the students taught each other! I found early on that the students were much better as explaining concepts to one another than I was! When I reflected upon this, I reasoned that the students could explain it better because they themselves had just learned the concept and the learning process was fresher in their minds. It makes sense that this would also be applicable to language instruction, but for whatever reason the idea has eluded me!
I also appreciated the ICUE approach to accommodating learners. Something like that would have been extremely helpful in the last district in which I worked. I had never heard of ICUE or CARES until now, but both are easy to remember and seem like logical approaches to provided extra support for struggling learners. I really like the CARES acronym because it seems to gradually provide more assistance. When I make accommodations, I always feel like I am doing way too much and enabling student dependence on teacher assistance or not I am not doing enough and end up allowing students to fail unnecessarily. My go-to strategy is modifying criteria for success, but I feel like now I have a list of different adaptations that I can use.
Not that I haven't enjoyed the previous readings, but I really feel like the things I've learned this week are especially helpful and have provided me with strategies I can start using tomorrow!
I'm Edie - wife, mom, teacher, instructional designer, home renovator,
and lover of nature, travel, technology, and vintage campers!