UDL task #7:

Diversity in the room!

Some Q & A with our mentor.

1. Do any students in the classroom have learning disabilities or other special needs?

Yes. 1 student is autistic, 2 have speech IEPS, 2 have academic IEPS and are diagnosed with specific learning disabilities. (Criswell)

2. How do you know? What signs made you aware of these?

The red flag was raised when I noticed a student zoning out during instruction and not participating during the read aloud lessons. He’s always with the special educator when she’s in the room so something there told me that this student has some sort of disability.

3. Are there gifted students in the classroom? No. (Criswell)

4. How is the furniture arranged in the room? What has the teacher placed on the walls? Are rules, procedures, or other cues posted?

There are grouped desks into 6 “teams” with 4 desks in each group. There’s carpet in front of the classroom with a director chair and easel. There’s carpet in the back near the book shelves of bins. The agenda board is located in the front to write down homework. A poster of rules are posted on the door of the bathroom (which is also located in the classroom) that reads what a good classmate is.. does.. says.. does not.. etc. There’s a happy helper chart schedule for the day and goes in a rotation so that all students get different jobs each day. There’s also word posters and word walls hung up too.

5. How are students grouped for instruction?

The students are typically in whole group on the front carpet for lessons, but get broken up into smaller groups for SIPPS lessons.

6. How do you deal with the wide range of academic ability in the classroom?

I am fortunate to work with a great special educator. We plan together and talk about specific student and class needs. We co-teach whole group lessons and we each pull "small" groups for guided reading practice. The special educator works with 2 students who have reading goals on their IEPS, as well as, four others who do not have IEP goals but benefit from the small group size.
When I select texts for the students to read, I try to choose a text that is at an instructional level. Most students in my reading small group read on a level D or E (middle to end of kindergarten equivalency), so I try to choose books as close to that level as possible. Even then, I have to monitor the amount of support given to individual students. I pair stronger readers with weaker ones and sometimes pull a few students who need the most support to read with me. (Criswell)

7. Are there pull-out programs in the school? How do you work around students going in and out of the classroom?

The speech pathologist pulls students out during the day. We typically try to schedule meeting times during Science/Social Studies. We prefer not to have students pulled during math and reading. My speech student meets with the speech teacher 2 times a week for a 30 minutes, so she does not miss too much instruction. (Criswell)

8. How do you work with the resource teacher?

The special educator and I plan on Monday afternoons. We co-teach and pull small groups. We communicate during planning, during and after lessons, and through email. The reading specialist and a paraeducator each pull a small group of students and teach a SIPPS intervention group during our Word Work block. We touch base weekly to talk about the lesson she is working on and we touch base as needed when there are questions or concerns about particular students. Our first grade team meets with the reading specialist monthly to discuss planning for upcoming units and intervention data. (Criswell)

9. How are the needs of these special students (from all levels) being met?

We are aware of the students needs and address their IEP goals during instruction. The special educator specifically focuses on the special education students and records data observed during class discussion and discussion during independent work time. Again, we pull small groups in order to best meet each child's reading level during CSI. During word work, each student has been placed in an intervention group that best matches his/her skill ability. We determined the groups based on a reading assessment, called Fountas and Pinnell, as well as, their performance on the SIPPS placement assessment. The groups are flexible, which means students can move up or down depending on their progress and performance. The most struggling students have also been placed in a computer-based intervention, called i-station, which occurs for 30 minutes daily. (Criswell)

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