Managing Diversity in the Classroom Introduction In a regular classroom, there is a wide range of diversity of students. They are different in gender, culture, social class and learning ability. Some students may have learning difficulty or disability. When they receive education in school, it is necessary to adopt special education strategies. In this essay, I am going to suggest some educational skills and strategies for managing and teaching students with dyslexia in Mathematics lessons. Dyslexia Dyslexia is a common type of specific learning difficulty.
For Chinese speakers in Hong Kong, there is around 10% of the population who has dyslexia. Students with dyslexia may have disorders in language, memory or thinking. They may be intelligent and do well in other areas but have difficulties in reading, spelling or writing abilities. Those students may have learning problems in identifying words, understanding directions, presenting work, managing themselves, and reading passages. Dyslexic students have different levels of difficulties in different stages.
For example, when they are in primary schools, they may have difficulties in identifying words or characters in similar shape.
While in secondary schools, they may have difficulties in reading comprehension. Because of their learning difficulty, they would easily be frustrated and feel anxious if they cannot meet their or their parents’ expectations. As a result, they tend to have low self-esteem which creates other emotional problems. Classroom Accommodation There are various ways to help students with dyslexia in their leaning.
In this part, I am going to suggest some of the ways that can be used to manage and teach them in classroom. One of the weaknesses of students with dyslexia is processing information slowly. Therefore, they are usually frustrated in lessons as they find difficulty in keeping pace with the lesson. In order to help them, it is necessary to develop a routine which can help them to follow in class. Students with learning disabilities are keen on respond well to a rapid pace of instruction with much variety and many opportunities to participate and respond successfully (Bauer & Shea, 1999).
So teachers can encourage those students to be actively involved and express their ideas in class as to get their interests in learning. For the seat arrangement, the teacher can arrange the dyslexic students sit near to the teacher’s desk. It aims to provide opportunities for the teacher to monitor the students’ responses and see whether they can follow the instructions or tasks in lesson. The teacher can also reinforce students’ behavior easily by this sitting arrangement. Besides, dyslexic students should sit straight in front of the board but not at an angle in the classroom (Ott, 2007).
It is due to their poor visual memory and thus having difficulty in copying accurately. Therefore, it is vital for them to have a clear view to the board in lesson time. Furthermore, the teacher has to ensure the writing in board is clearly enough as to reduce their copying mistakes. Dyslexic students have poor working memory skills (Ott, 2007). During the lesson, the teacher has to speak and present in a concise and clear way. Before any tasks start, the teacher has to ensure those pupils understand what they need to do.
The teacher can repeat or rephrases the instructions or information given to strengthen their memory. Moreover, the teacher should also try to keep instructions simple and short to maintain a good pace in lesson. All of the approaches aim to ensure the children can follow the lesson in a proper way. Applying multi-sensory teaching is also a way to help those pupils. It is different from the traditional teaching approach. As the dyslexic children have visual and memory problems, it is difficult for them to catch up with the tasks if only hearing and vision are given.
Teaching in a multi-sensory way means to help children through the use of more than two of their senses. It especially means adding touch and movement to the activities so that the brain can read the information better (Wood, 2006). Using different senses to learn at the same time is an efficient way to learn, especially beneficial to students with learning disability. The teacher can design and prepare a variety of activities which involve seeing, hearing, speaking, touching and writing to maximize students’ potential in learning. When planning lesson, the teacher should determine the students’ own strengths.
Although dyslexic students have disabilities in several ways, they can be familiar with some of the other aspects. The teacher can try to find their strengths and teach those strengths. Therefore, the students can have the chance to experience a sense of achievement in their learning process, which enhance their self-esteem. It is unavoidable that even students with disability also have to take tests and exams in school. Although it may be a hard job for dyslexic students, teachers and schools can make appropriate modification to allow those students to show what they have learnt. Sousa, 2005) First of all, when designing the test papers, the teacher should use proper type font which can easily be read. The key words in the test papers should be in boldface and enough space for writing should be provided. Then the instruction of the questions should be concise and clear. If it is allowable, use visual aids in the questions as those students often have strong visual-spatial skills. Those students are weak at writing and reading so if it is appropriate, replace the traditional testing format by oral administration or other ways of testing.
The main aim of testing students is to see whether they have learnt efficiently. Therefore, students with learning difficulty should be treated fairly under this condition. Instructional Strategies To study Mathematics well, it demands different kinds of ability, such as sequencing, orientation, visual, and memory abilities. In this part, several instructional skills for dyslexic pupils to study Mathematics will be analyzed. Students with dyslexia may have difficulty in numeracy when studying Mathematics. Failing to identify direction and orientation may become one of the problems to learn this subject.
For instance, they may recall the number in a wrong order, like read 167 as 176. It is caused by short-term memory weaknesses. It is obvious to notice children with this disability at home as they may fail to remember telephone numbers in a correct sequence, which can be classify as having poor sequencing ability. The way to help children is to break the numbers down into learnable chunks so that they can remember the chunks part by part, which is an easier way to learn (Payne & Turner, 1999). Besides, telling the time is also a problem for those children.
It is a kind of “digital disability” or “digital dissonance”. These are the ones who are given a digital watch at their earliest age (Payne & Turner, 1999). Although those children can tell the time appearing in the watch correctly, they lack the ability to understand the meaning of time in relation to the space around. It is recommended to use the analogue watch rather than the digital one because the students can have more chances to think of the relationship of time and the environment. If they understand the meaning of time, it is beneficial for them to manage time properly when they grow up.
Many dyslexia children may fail to manage time well so it is essential to teach them understand time at an earlier stages. Using language properly is also a challenge faced by dyslexia students. It does not only cause learning difficulty in language-based subjects, but also in Mathematics. The pupils may have difficulty in acquiring and using mathematical language such as “decimals”, “multiplication”, “addition” and “fractions” (Farrell, 2006). Usually mathematical words are abstract as they have limited experience about using mathematical language.
Therefore, they may find hard to handle this subject. In order to increase students’ interests in Mathematics, the teacher can use special strategies while introducing new words. For example, a triangle can be drawn in the board when introducing the word “triangle”. The teacher can emphasize the word “tri” which means “three” in the teaching. If the students know the meaning of “tri”, they would probably remember the word “triangle” when seeing the same shape next time. It is a more interesting way for the pupils to learn as they would have a better understanding in the vocabulary.
Besides understanding the vocabulary, those students may also find understanding text difficult as they have a weaker reading ability. The use of number stories can give those pupils a better understanding of words problem and how they are constructed (Poustie, 2001b). For instance, the numbers “two” and “five” can be arranged to a story that five apples were bought and two of them have been eaten. Students can be encouraged to find the number of apples left, which is “two”. This method can be used in a variety of areas when dealing with Mathematics problems. Conclusion
In this essay, I have suggested several ways for both classroom accommodation and instructional strategies for dyslexic students that I think can help them learn better. For the classroom accommodation, the teacher needs to pay attention to the pace of the lesson as to reduce the impact of their slow processing information problem. Adequate time should be given for the students to organize their thoughts and complete their work. Moreover, the teacher can give opportunities for those pupils to voice and involved in class, which can increase their confidence to speak up in public.
To take care of dyslexic children easily, the teacher should organize an appropriate seat arrangement. Those pupils can be arranged to sit near the teacher as the teacher can determine whether they are in the right track. The teacher can also give encouragement easily such as a smile or a nod if the students do the tasks properly. Moreover, the teacher should ensure the students can see the board clearly and the writing is obvious to read as those students have difficulties in reading and copying. This is to lower the chances for their reading and copying errors.
Besides clear writing, the teacher should speak in a concise way. The teacher has to check students’ understanding of the instructions before starting a task. A simple instruction or rephrase of sentences can make those students easily to follow. Multi-sensory teaching is also a way to help children with learning disability as it involves more than one sense to learn a the same time. When preparing lesson, the teacher can design activities including different senses to enhance students’ learning interests and encourage their motivation in learning.
The teacher can also find students’ strengths and to teach those strengths. These methods can make the teaching and learning process become more effective. While preparing test papers for those pupils, there are several ways the teacher needs to be considered. For example, the layout of the paper, the instructions provided, and the test format used. The school and teachers have to make appropriate decision about how to test those pupils’ knowledge in a suitable way. For the instructional strategies, I have introduced some of the approaches to teach those students Mathematics.
For example, how to deal with students who have difficulties in orientation, numeracy, Mathematics vocabulary and text language. Indeed, there are many ways to teach dyslexic students and none of the methods can be used effectively to all of those students. Teachers have to find appropriate approaches to help those students. It is not an easy task for students with learning difficulty to learn but education can makes a difference. As teachers, we have to understand the diversity in classroom and give support to them. Reference Bauer, A. M. , & Shea, T. M. (1999). Inclusion 101: How to teach all learners. Baltimore: Brookes. Farrell, M. 2006). The effective teacher’s guide to dyslexia and other specific learning difficulties: Practical strategies. Taylor & Francis. Ott, P. (2007). Teaching children with dyslexia: A practical guide. Taylor & Francis. Payne, T. , & Turner, E. (1999). Dyslexia: a parents’ and teachers’ guide. Multilingual Matters. Poustie, J. (2001b). Mathematics solutions: An introduction to dyscalculia part B — how to teach children and adults who have specific learning difficulties in Mathematics. Taunton, Next Generation Sousa, D. A. (2005). How the brain learns to read. Corwin Press. Wood, T. (2006). Overcoming dyslexia for dummies. Wiley.
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