Chapter 7 Teaching and Assessing Students with Special Needs:
This chapter was interesting and discussed three groups of students: those with learning disabilities, students with behavioural disorders, and English Language Learners. This chapter is useful for any potential educator because many students are misidentified with behavioural issues or learning disabilities. I feel as though the classroom environment has a huge role in regards to how students learn. For example, placing desks in rows versus placing them in a semi-circle so that everyone can see one another can better help the learning process. Students who aren't able to focus due to 'behavioural' problems may be able to learn better. I do remember that after I graduated from elementary school, the public system incorporated 'nutrition breaks' which I believe is an excellent idea because students will be able to take a break from 40 minutes of instruction. This was placed for all students because all students need a break from instruction, not just special need students. This chapter makes me feel that it is really hard to teach special needs students since many articles and readings are trying to find ways to teach 'regular' kids. This chapter (and many of Cooper's chapters) tend to state scenarios that have better outcomes. They are written in a way that the situation is not so bad, and that the solution is easy. I found that this chapter didn't provide specific answers, but rather repeated many of the suggestions that have been mentioned earlier, i.e., differentiated lesson planning, assigning specific tasks to students, and paying more attention to students by getting to know them.
So far at my CSL placement, I have been able to sit in on a Literacy class. This class enrols students who have failed the Ontario Secondary School Literacy Test (OSSLT) at least two times. Although I wouldn't consider these students having a learning disability, it would be interesting to read about Cooper's point of view in regards to where he would classify this group of students.
Chapter 8 Assessment Tools and Technology:
I see the value of rubrics- they are important as a general guideline for students. But that is the keyword- guideline. This chapter and Goodrich Anrade's article discuss how often rubrics generally fail to accomplish their purpose in accordance to student achievement. When reading a rubric, the only difference between any of the levels tends to be one word. Terms like "some", "good", and "poor" are really the key words that make the difference between a level 1 and a level 2, or a level 3 and a level 4. What do these words even mean? It's up to the teacher to then decide where to place a student. One thing I hate the most is hearing educators say "he's a level 4 student". In my grade 10 math class, we were only allowed to complete problems that we thought were appropriate to our 'level'. For example, if you were a 'level 3' student, you were only supposed to complete the level 3 questions. You were allowed to try the level 4, but it was not marked. I remember that my friends and I would complete only level 4 questions on purpose, even if we knew we couldn't answer them. We did this because then the teacher would be forced to mark our level 4 answers. I really hated this form of testing because those who thought they would never be able to answer a level 3 question properly always started and stayed with the level 2 questions and never had the chance to grow.
Honestly, we might as well walk around with a level stamped to our foreheads.
Goodrich Anrade's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, talks about rubrics (snooze), but when you read the article you notice that the 'bad things' that are mentioned are things that you would typically agree on too. Issues like validity, reliability, fairness, and the quality of rubrics should be revised. One sentence that really stood out for me was, "rubrics are not a replacement for good instruction" (29). I hate and love rubrics at the same time. When I used to have assignments, I only used the rubrics so that the teacher was happy with what I handed in. I would look at the rubric and make sure that I was meeting the right standards just so I can get the grade I wanted. I hated rubrics though because it didn't allow for 'thinking outside the box'.