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Introductory Scenarios

  1. Students are diverse, and they come to the classroom with many different skills, kinds of knowledge, and background experiences. Everything they bring offers an asset to the group’s experience of learning. Thinking of children in this way is founded in an Assets based Pedagogy and it means looking at the child’s whole picture not just their deficits.  Dr. Erica Mein researched and wrote about this in her work on the topic and depicts the relationships among assets in the following figure.   Mein, E.L. (2018). Asset-Based Teaching and Learning with Diverse Learners in Postsecondary Settings.

See if you can think of some examples. Compare your ideas with those in the table below.

The Student

His or Her Skills, Knowledge, or Background

How it’s an Asset to the Class

Miguel, an English learner in the fourth grade.

Speaks Spanish and is learning English

Helps all the students learn some Spanish; provides examples of words in English and Spanish that are similar because they come from Latin

Charla, a fifth-grade student who is deaf and who uses sign language

Belongs to and understands Deaf Culture

Provides support to others modeled on experiences with the supports provided to her through participation in Deaf Culture

William, a first-grade student with autism

Enjoys repetitive tasks

Models perseverance

Ruth Ann, a third grader who grew up in rural West Virginia and has recently moved to Columbus, Ohio

Knows a large number of folk stories, especially ghost stories

Shares insights about literature

The diverse characteristics of these students help us see their unique needs. For example:

  • Miguel needs to expand his oral vocabulary in English to read well in English. 
  • Charla may need to see visual cues to represent or substitute for sounds.
  • William may need to learn how to transition from one activity to another.
  • Ruth Ann may need to learn the differences between the phonemes in her dialect and those used in standard American English.

The steps for inclusive lesson planning are:

  1. learning about your students (the most important step!)
  2. figuring out where they are along a learning progression 
  3. aligning where they are to the academic standards
  4. grouping children around their level of need: flexible grouping
  5. creating universally designed lessons that reach all their unique needs.
  6. working with a team to design lessons that offer options
  7. giving children opportunities to learn from and interact with their peers
  8. giving children a chance to showcase their assets 

Eleanor and Charles are parapros who work at the same primary school. Both help with reading instruction, especially with struggling readers. Eleanor helps several English learners and a student who is hard of hearing. Charles helps a student whom his partner teacher says is “dyslexic”, one who has autism , and one child who just moved to the school is struggling with reading in her content area classes. 

 Eleanor and Charles often have conversations about what methods of reading instruction are “best practice” for these students. Right now, though, they have more questions than answers. 

TAKE NOTES: 

What do you think their questions might be?

Module: Helping Students Read

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