Vanessa's Reflection Journal

Cardinal Stritch University SEDU 550

Favorite Quote

"Today you are you, that is truer than true. There is no one alive who is Youer than You." ~Dr. Seuss
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Journal Entry #1

1. What information does a teacher have about students with special needs before the first day of class? The information a teacher has is the disability, present level of performance, goals, behavior plan(if applicable), and any accommodations/modifications listed on IEP. Also, it is essential to get any important information the teacher needs so the student can be successful(ex: are there certain things that set a child off, sensitivities, routines, noises, etc...) 
2. What are the sources of that information? The sources are the previous classroom teacher and special education teacher who plan a meeting with the current teacher together. The special education teacher should also provide IEP information.
3. How much does the teacher rely upon the comments of other teachers when getting to know new students? I think it is important to share IEP information but let the current teacher learn things about the students themselves. Too many teachers share all the details and I don't agree with that because then the new teacher has already made judgements about that student. Depending on the severity of the student, sometimes the teacher might not meet with the other teacher until after the school year starts. The new teacher should get the know the student(s) before he/she is given a bunch of information. However, if there is a student with significant needs (behavior, medical, etc.), it is important to make sure the teacher knows ahead of time.
4. 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? Two specific characterisitics would be to know one strength and one weakness of the student. It's important to know a student's strengths so you can build off of that. I also think it's important to know one area where the student needs help/growth so you can help use the strengths to build up the weak areas.
5. What information is most useful for managing pupils in the classroom? Knowing the student's learning needs, where they should be sitting in the room, who to separate, and how they learn best, etc. Clearn and consistent expectations are very important and I feel they should be set from the very beginning. Knowing the support schedule is important along with who will be in the room at what time to support the students.

Journal Entry #2

After interviewing two parents, one parent of a student with special needs (Joanne), and one parent of a student without special needs (Mindy), I found some similarities and differences in regards to their perceptions of and attitudes toward assessments. Both parents discussed how important formal assessments are. Teachers need to know if students have learned and retained the information. Looking across all curricular areas, formal assessment shows the teacher if the student has truly learned the skills. Joanne gave the example of math time. The formal assessment shows mastery over time and not just remembering it the day it was taught.
Mindy felt that assessments reflect the student learning accurately. She said it is about how skills learned based on teacher lessons, activities, and homework. Taking a test and responding by choosing a written response are an important part of assessment. Joanne felt that all assessments do not accurately reflect the student's learning. She felt that to assess what a student knows, the assessment needs to be in format that is conducive to how the student learns. It is important for teachers to use a variety of formats for assessment, like a project or experiment. This was also Mindy's explanation for improving formal assessment. A teacher should know his/her student and how they learn. From that, the teacher can provide a variety of assessments. Joanne thought giving students a variety of methods to assess is a good idea.
When discussing different methods for student achievement, we discussed performance assessment. Joanne talked about projects as an example and Mindy talked about experiments and orally assessing. She made an excellent point that the information is sometimes more important than the way it is delivered.
After looking through my notes from the interview, Mindy seemed to have more background in understanding assessment. Joanne's perception relied upon traditional assessments with paper and pencil. Mindy's background comes from working with special education teachers and classroom teachers. Mindy is also part of her child's IEP meetings and has exposure to knowing about different assessment methods used with her child and how he demostrates his skills.

Journal Entry #3

When determining grades, I look at IEP goals, classroom assessments, informal assessments, assignments, etc. The great debate with grading special education students is whether they should be graded based on grade level standards or graded based on how they are doing at the level they are at. It has become a lot easier now that we have gotten away from grades and grade based on learning targets. When grading with grades, some teachers never gave special education students higher than a "C" because they were not at grade level. Other teachers graded them based on how they were doing at the level they are. This caused a lot of problems for families because their students would have drastically different report cards each year.
I do not think that all information should count equally for students. I believe the IEP goals/present level of performance should drive what information is graded. Students should not be given a grade based on something that is significantly beyond their academic functioning. I believe we need to hold our students accountable and need to be continually assessing how they are doing, not waiting until the end of a quarter or semester to grade them.
The information provided for parents on how their child is graded changes every year based on how they are being graded. Now that we have moved to target-based grading, we talk about what beginning, developing, proficient, and secure mean. We also talk about what grading levels mean. Telling a parent an alphabetical letter does not mean much to them unless it is compared to grade levels. As a whole, I think parents rely more on the information they receive at IEP meeting than other grading.
To help reduce a pupil's anxiety while maintaining their motivation to do well on a test, I can try to make tests as stress free as possible. I do not make a big deal about them in advance. Sometimes I break them up over a couple of days. When I know there is a lot of anxiety, I make sure I sit by the students and talk him/her through it. I will give them the option of doing all the hard questions or easy questions first so they feel they have some control over the test they are taking.
I have a zero tolerance for cheating. I consider cheating on a test more significant than on an assignment, however, students need to learn that it is not okay to cheat. I think it is important to teach children how to work together and work with other students in such a way that it is not always one or two students doing the work and the rest coming along for the ride. If students are actively engaged in their learning, they should be learning the information and not have a need to teach. I also think it's important to put students in a situations where it's easy to cheat. For example, separate students during tests, put up dividers, separate tables, etc. There will be less of an issue with cheating if there are not opportunities for the students to cheat without being obvious.