Assessment in the Classroom

Based on what you have read, as well as the other tools that are in your toolkit from your other classes, how might you use assessment in your classroom?  What tips and tricks (strategies!) might you use to keep track of where your students are?

There are many different types of assessments that can be used in the classroom, ranging from diagnostic to formative and ending with summative. All of these assess students at different points in the year and in the lessons that are being taught. I have learned through my classes that assessment is very different than grading.Yes, there are similarities, such as giving a student a grade on an assessment, but assessments also help to further a student’s education. I plan on using assessments to ensure that my students are understanding the content that is being taught to them. I want to ensure that I monitor them so that movement through the lessons is not too fast.

Inside of the three large assessment categories that were previously discussed are smaller tips and tricks to get to know your students better. One of these is using an anecdotal seating chart. I think that this is one of the best ways to monitor student’s progress and understanding on the lesson in a low-key way. As you walk around the room to check understandings, you should mark down some quick notes on students who are struggling in certain areas. These marks can then help you modify the content for the next lesson or reteach the lesson in a different way. This is one of my favorite ways. Another thing that I would really like to do is have a portfolio for each of my students with quick notes at the end of each day. This way, I can give a summary of the important things that stuck out to me.

Assistive Technology

I learned a lot about assistive technology that I did not previously know. I always thought that it had to actually be technology, such as headphones or a speech-to-text device. The interesting thing though, is that it can be as simple as a special pencil grip to help a student with their writing. I think that the largest way I would use assistive technology in my classroom would be more simple ways that can reach multiple students. Some of these devices include daily planners to help students stay organized as well as utilizing highlighting pens and tapes to help students keep their place. Many younger students struggle with these problems, along with students who have Attention Deficit Disorder.

When it comes to students with severe disabilities, some of the more advanced technology pieces come into play. Some of these include adaptive keyboards with larger keys, word prediction software devices, or communication devices. These can aid students in major life functions that they may not be physically able to do.

As we can all see, assistive technology is not just for those that struggle with large functions. It can be used for students who need the aid in every day functions such as gripping a pencil or losing a place in a book. These small events are things that can happen to almost any person. To be able to utilize a piece of assistive technology to help any student is amazing.

 

Gifted and Talented Students

Gifted and Talented students are always the kids that are labeled as “nerds” or “loners”. What I find very interesting though, is that their gift and the way that they are taught is what gives them those labels. One of the first things that I read about that I did not know before, was that there is a tendency for these gifted and talented students to have many behavior problems. These problems arise due to the boredom that they endure during the school day. Many teachers use these students for “tutors” in the classroom or just simply give them other work to do, instead of challenging them. I too would feel the need to act out if I had nothing exciting or different to do each and every day. Another aspect of students who are gifted and talented that I was shocked to find out was that many students actually have a disability as well. This is called being “Twice Exceptional”. This is the reason why many students are not identified as gifted and talented. When one disability masks their ability to work, they are deemed as disabled or average, when they are far from it.

Unlike what many people think, using gifted students to help others, giving them extra work, or giving them busy work, is not the correct way to help and challenge them. One of the most simple strategies that I would use is giving them harder problems to challenge their knowledge. This way, the student is not feeling left out and isolated among their peers, but instead feels included in their daily routine. Ironically, students who are gifted or twice exceptional are sometimes found to have lower grades. One reason for this is because many gifted students rush through assignments, resulting in vital steps skipped. Another reason is that those students who are twice exceptional may need help to organize their thoughts and get back on track. Some strategies to help them achieve their all is to give them color coded note books, graphic organizers, and visual charts. These all help them lay out the thoughts and processes in their brains so that they can get their work done in the best way they can. Other factors that affect students can be their disability, which can be almost any type of disability. Strategies to help these students include letting them take tests in quiet rooms where they can read them out loud, use hands-on assignments, and include lots of movement throughout the day. Together, these strategies will challenge a gifted student to be all that they can and more. One strategy can change their behavior, their grades, and their outlook.

Autism

Autism comes with many different characteristics. As said in the “Educator Guide to Autism”, no two individuals with autism are ever the same. This is said because so many people have different sensitivities and difficulties. These are grouped by sensory sensitivities, such as being sensitive to noise, smells, and touch. Other difficulties include needing a sameness, acting out, or being easily distracted.

When it comes to these unique difficulties though, there are many things that a teacher can do when it comes to the visual classroom as well as placement in that classroom. For sensory difficulties, a teacher can request carpets, dimmer light bulbs, unscented supplies, etc. Placement of the students desk is also a very important factor to consider. Students should be placed facing away from windows and high-traffic areas, as that may be a distraction or may be overwhelming. Another thing for teachers to consider is being careful of their own actions. Having a loud voice or making any rash movements towards the student way set them off due to their possible sensitivity to sound or touch. As said before though, this differs for each student with Autism. For behavior difficulties, teachers should consider keeping a set schedule for the classroom. This is similar to being careful with senses. If a schedule change happens quickly, students may get overwhelmed. Another important difficulty to keep in mind is any outbursts that could occur due to that frustration or overwhelming feeling that a student can experience. Many schools have motor rooms where students can run around to blow off steam.

All of those modifications and accommodations are great to keep around all the time, but they do not help to try to stop problem behaviors and increase daily activities. Interventions are great ways to work with the students. One of my favorite interventions is Discrete Trial Training. This intervention works with the student with autism on mastering skills and tasks that they need extra work on. Why I think that this works well, is that students with autism need consistency. This intervention keeps working on that one skill until it is mastered and they are able to move on to a new skill. There are many other interventions that focus on finding the child’s strengths and weaknesses so that all people in their lives are able to understand and work with them in a beneficial way.

I do not have many concerns when it comes to working with students with Autism. I have worked with them before and find that when they are in a good place, they appreciate almost every aspect of good that is put in front of them. It is such a rewarding feeling to work with them. The one concern that I do have though, is working with a student who has severe outbursts or behavior problems. It makes me concerned for my safety as well as the safety of the student with autism and other students in the classroom. What would mentally hurt me though, is if I was not able to help that student and find the right interventions to do so.

Communication Disabilities

I did not know much about communication disabilities, besides a student who stutters. Interestingly enough though, this is one of the biggest categories of disabilities that I have read about thus far. For the two main types, speech or language, there are at least three other sub categories that can be adversely affected. Some of these including phonology and articulation disorders.

While reading through this chapter, I noticed that a few pages were missing. Due to that, I was unable to come up with many strategies that I would use while working with students with these disabilities. One that stood out to me that I did like though, was using Co-teaching with the Speech and language Pathologist during a large group lesson. Having a helping-hand during a large lesson would allow for the student with disabilities to see the content represented in different ways. Some ways to represent the content in a different way would be to have multiple-choice answers to some of the questions asked. This could also help some other students who need interventions. Having the SLP Co-teach would also allow the student some one-on-one time if they need the help. Another very important thing to consider is that extra time be given for assessments. Many students do not need these accommodations for assessments, but it is the students who have a new communication device that may need extra time to ensure that they are getting the answer that they wanted to put out. Lastly, graphic organizers and charts tend to be very beneficial to students who have a communication disability. These organizers allow students to lay out all of the information that they need. Therefore, it is all in front of them and does not have to be memorized or searched for again.

After reading and learning about communication disorders, I found that some can be fixed with the help of therapy, while others are so severe that communication devices may be needed. What I am having trouble with though, is the fact that I still do not know what some accommodations and modifications for these disabilities are. I understand that they may need extra time or extra help, but how do I give that to them during math, science, and social studies?

Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder

Many people have heard of ADHD/ADD before. What they may not know though, is that there is an actual difference between the two. ADD, or Attention Deficit Disorder, tends to be a simply inattentive type of disorder. ADHD, or Attention Deficit-Hyperactivity Disorder, on the other hand, tends to include more behavioral distractions and actions. While these two can seem very different, especially since they have a different name and acronym, there is a third type of disorder that is a combination of both. Many students who are diagnosed with these disorders are still in elementary school. This is when teachers and parents are able to see the difference between a “kid being a kid” and a student struggling with attention problems.

When it comes to finding strategies for students with ADD/ADHD, it can be much different than finding strategies for a student with a difference disability. Many times, students with ADD/ADHD are are very capable of getting good grades and being successful in school. Now, that is not to say that students with other disabilities are not; the two disabilities are just unique in their own ways. One strategy for a teacher to use would be having a quiet area for students to do work and test in. As in the chapter, Will was able to demonstrate a greater understanding of content while in a quiet room than while in with his peers. If a student with ADHD/ADD is struggling, the best way to grasp their attention and help them, is someone isolated. Another strategy to implement would be giving them some extra or flexible time to show their knowledge. They can not help that fact that there may be distractions around them. If they need a motor break in order to deal with that distraction, so that they can continue with their assignment, then so be it. Other strategies include: allowing students to stand at their desks, allowing them motor breaks, and short instructions.

While there are many things that you can do to help a student with ADD/ADHD, there are also many things that you should not do. One of these things would include making a list of assignments or activities for them to accomplish to help keep them organized. This can be a huge problem, because while it may put everything on paper, it can also be wildly overwhelming for them. Think about it. If you had a large list in front of you with some very time-consuming projects that you could not finish in a day or two, would you get discouraged? Yes, and so would they. Another strategy that is not always beneficial is giving students less work. Eventually, less work will begin to impair the student’s education, which in turn can actually harm them. It can also give them the learned helplessness feeling of not being able to do more than is expected of them. That is just not right.

After doing these readings, I have come to only have one question. I read that some people with the disability actually have “hyperfocus” instead of trouble focusing. Which of the two types of ADD/ADHD would this hyperfocusing fall under? Why is it not its own disability, as it is opposite of all other symptoms?

Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Students

As a teacher, it is common that you will come across a culturally or linguistically diverse student at least once in your teaching career. What is important though, is that you put in the effort to get to know them on a cultural level so that they are able to be treated as a normal student would be treated. Being a culturally and linguistically responsive educator entails taking the take to understand the cultural and language that this student follows. Sometimes, students do not feel comfortable in a classroom that does not surround them in their culture and their language and that can result in that student being quiet in the classroom. Taking the time to understand them on a personal level though can show you that that student is in fact brilliant and they just need helping showing it.

A culturally responsive educator will try to incorporate the knowledge of multiple cultures into the classroom to create a welcoming and open feeling for all students. Not all students react or answer the same to events or questions. Most times, this is a cultural barrier that is being met and the understanding of this barrier can help to break it down. A linguistically responsive teacher will help that student become more fluent in the primary language of that classroom. They will help a student, and their family, feel welcomed and included, instead of feeling that they are not worthy enough to communicate with.

There are many academic strategies that can be utilized in the classroom to benefit a culturally and linguistically diverse student. Some of these include using manipulatives and technology to help those students put a word to pictures. Sometimes using hands on tools can be helpful for subjects, such as math, that don’t require lots of words. On the other hand, strategies to help students with their vocabulary and fluency can include word walls and labels. Word walls are very helpful in any subject. If a teacher can take the time to pull out important vocabulary terms in the upcoming lesson, and can add them to the word wall, then they will be there to reference and add to their vocabulary list. Labels are also useful tools when it comes to typical items around the room that need to be found or utilized during the day. This may make students less quiet and nervous, since they will have help moving around the room without always having to ask. There are many more strategies, such as working in groups and learning background information on the students interests to peak their knowledge. Together, the use of these academic and every day strategies create a well rounded culturally and linguistically responsive educator.