Journal Entry One

Getting to know your student

Journal Entry One: Knowing your student at the beginning of the school year.

What information does a teacher have about student with special needs before the first day of class?

Teachers start out the school year knowing their students according to their cummulative folder. Beyond that, teachers get their information from the student's previous teacher, parent conversations, Student samples that may be in student's cummulative folder are also informative and can let a teacher know about their writing skills. WKCE and MAP scores that are kept in students file can give insight to the students academic strengths and weaknesses. A student's previous IEP will also be in their folder and can give foundation to how lessons will be set up and instruction will be presented.

How much does the teacher rely upon the comments of other teachers when getting to know new students?

Teachers take into consideration what other teachers say in regards to what they have to say about the student. They do not base their decision solely on what they say though.

If you could know only 2 specific characteristics of each pupil at the end of the first day of class, what would these be? Why?

I think one characteristic to know is their learning style. If I know what the best way they learn is, then I can plan accordingly to meet their needs better. Another important characteristic that I would like to know would be to know what sets them off. Sometimes when I am working with a small group for the first time I end up with behavior problems because certain students set one another off. If I know this right away, it would allow for better grouping right from start. This would also be a time when information from another teacher would come in handy.

What information is most useful for managing pupils in the classroom?

I find that knowing what students have behavior problems is useful for me to know. If I know that, then when I arrange a seating chart I can make sure that if I have more than one they are not sitting next to each other. I can also make sure, depending on grade level, that I have said students seated in an area where I can give them the most help and redirect as needed as soon as possible before a problem were to escalate.

Journal Entry Two: Parental Views on Assessments

Are assessments Important?

After discussing with the parents about their feelings regarding assessments, one parent mentioned that they weren’t really sure how the assessments matched up with the standards. When asked why they felt that way she replied that the standards kept getting raised for the students and places them in a lower academic setting where they are no longer challenged. Whereas the one other parent said they were not a big fan of formal assessments because they seem to pigeon hole the student.

Do the assessment reflect student learning accurately?

I then asked the parents if they thought whether the assessments reflected student learning accurately. The first parent said she did not think that it reflected her child’s learning accurately. She said it felt more like the assessment was for the teachers to be held accountable and not so much the student. The assessments put the students in the light of not getting a proper education with many showing at basic or below with the change in the standards. The other parent however had a slightly different view on the value of assessments. The assessments don’t reflect those students that score beyond advance nor are they then challenged enough. Students that score below are those students that have a hard time taking timed test or struggle with reading. She mentioned that these assessments are not adaptive to all learning styles

How can formal assessments be improved? Do you feel that a different method would better assess student achievement? If so, describe this assessment method?

Neither parent was sure how the assessments could be improved. Although one parent mentioned that the MAPS was better at being more adaptive to other learning styles than the WKCE. She also mentioned she pays more attention to the daily class work being done to gauge what her child is capable of doing. She goes on saying that we have proved time and time again that trying to make every student learn in the same way does not work and why we would think standardized assessments would be any different.

The difference in opinions

The difference in opinions of the parents is that one is much more actively involved in the school and the classroom. Both parents have equal education and spend time working with their children on their school work. Both parents have children that require special needs one with OHI and the other ADD and processing disorder.

Determining the Grade

Information needed

When determining grades for my special education students, I first take a look at their IEP goals and make sure to incoporate those goals into the grading process. As mentioned in the article "Grading Students with Disabilities" by Dennis D. Munk and William D. Bursuck, I must first know the purpose of the assignment and then check the student's IEP to see if their goals are related. If they are, then I take into consideration those goals when assessing the grade and/or if the assignment needs to be modified. If they do not have goals related to that assignment they are then assessed the same as their peers.

I really like the idea of using the parent survey from the article "Grading Students with Disabilities" by Dennis D. Munk and William D. Bursuck. When informing parents on how the their children are doing, it helps to know what the parents are interested in knowing when it comes to the progress of their children. I think generating a syllabus for the class that list expectations of assignments, test and grading is a great way to inform parents and students. This also creates a paper trail so parents and students can't come back to you later and say that you never mentioned it.


Anxiety and Motivation

When handing out test to my students I always begin by telling them to just do their best. I also tell them that if they get stumped on a question or problem to skip it and to try the next one. Before collecting test from students I tell them to look over all their answers and make sure they completed all the problems. If there are multiple choice questions/problems and they do not know them I tell them to make a best guess. If it is a timed test I tell them how much time they have to take the test and that I will give a 10 minute warning before time is up. When MAP testing, students who have testing accommodations take their test in small groups, test can be paused if they need a break, and if it stated in their IEP, test can be read to them like in the circumstance of an ELL student.


Cheating should be treated same regardless of the situation. I as a teacher let the students know before test are handed what the expectations are. If they are caught cheating test is taken away and a "0" is given. Testing for students on an IEP are given the accommodations that are stated in their IEP only. That can be anywhere from reading directions to them, a different room, or explanation of what is being asked of them in order to answer the question.