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Inclusive Unit Plan
During my co-teaching field practicum, I was able to create an inclusive unit plan which holds important and necessary components that needed to be implemented towards all students of ability. These components consisted of Common Core Standards, learning targets and expectations for ‘all, most and some’ learners, academic language, pre- and post- assessments, differentiation, and accommodations all within three sequential lesson plans combined. All of these components tied together help create an attainable learning experience to all learners. This is due to the differentiation in students’ learning styles, as well as how the instruction is implemented.
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While in the process of creating my inclusive unit plan, an important factor which helped me build an overall foundation, was building rapport and getting to know the students first. In order to understand each students’ ability level, it is important to have a basic understanding of both strengths and weaknesses. This helps educators know what will be beneficial and what won’t not be beneficial when implementing and creating lessons for all learners. Over a few weeks being at my placement, I learned that the students in my class had a wide range of learning styles between visual, kinesthetic, and auditory. One thing in particular that I did, was to make sure that all three of my lessons had each of those styles so it would benefit their learning experience while keeping them engaged as much as possible.
Accommodations and Modifications
When choosing what accommodations and modifications are needed during instruction, it is solemnly based on how the students learn and can remain engaged. The accommodations that were chosen in my unit plan, were aimed towards the students learning styles and how they learn best. In a pre-assessment that I created which was a brief multiple question survey, results showed me that most of the students’ preferred hands-on activities and visual representations. This type of informal assessment shows educators the different strengths of the students and how they adapt what their learning in ways that they are able to understand the content best as an individual. “Teachers need to be aware of the student’s strengths and abilities—what the student can do, not just what he or she cannot do—and build on these abilities when creating educational modifications” (Darrow, 2007). This concept helped me decide that incorporating interactive activities throughout my lessons, as well as pictures would greatly benefit their learning, rather than listening to a lecture following along. These accommodations allow for the students to visually see a picture representation connected to what their learning, whether that be a term, concept, or equation that may need to be memorized. Also, allowing the students to get up and move around the room is beneficial because it keeps the students’ engagement in contact, rather than having them sit for an entire lecture. This appeared to be successful because I was able to see that the students were excited to stand up and participate in a hands-on activity. For example, I played a “Simon Says” game where students had to use their arms to mock an angle type and they had fun while participating. I believe that incorporating hands-on activities keeps students engaged and it creates learning to be fun and enjoyable, especially to those individuals who maybe don’t see it that way.
Another beneficial accommodation that was used for my unit plan was guided notes. I copied important terminology, equations, and pictures that were in my PowerPoint onto a blank piece of paper that students could keep for their own personal reference. I also left fill in the blanks for them to follow along with during the lesson so they would have something to look forward to in order to figure out what goes in the blank spaces. The students had binders where the kept all their papers and worksheets, so they always could refer back to these guided notes if they ever needed a reference. This type of accommodation helps support students who may need a follow along prompt or guide to help keep their attention. Also, having guided notes provided benefits students who may struggle creating their own notes.
One of the overall purposes throughout this field study was to engage and practice in using co-teaching methods and collaboration during instruction. I was able to see how the general education teacher co-taught with the special education teacher during certain periods of the day. Some of the effective co-teaching styles that I was able to practice and observe included team teaching, one teach one assist, one teach one observe, parallel teaching, station teaching, and alternative teaching. It is important when using any type of co-teaching method, that there is a strong sense of collaboration between the teachers working together.
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When any type of collaboration occurs between professionals, good communication skills are what helps develop and maintain effective relationships when co-teaching. “Effective collaboration occurs when professionals voluntarily participate and have mutual goals (Hamilton-Jones & Vail, 2014) “to provide a coherent educational program to support student’s academic achievement” (Da Fonte & Barton-Arwood, 2017). The best part about collaboration is teachers gain new insight and ideas from one another, but also can potentially rely on each other especially during instruction. If a teacher is struggling in the moment, the other teacher is there to help assist and step in. It is important to remember that you’re never alone in that case if the collaboration is strong between both teachers.
When developing professional development as an educator, there is always room for expansion of knowledge throughout the career of education as a whole. After receiving a bachelor’s degree, individuals can go back to school and receive their master’s degree in a different area or an area which extends their bachelors degree emphasis. I believe that teachers and other professionals should attend educational conferences and meetings whenever they are available to attend to further expand their knowledge. Every day is a new day and it allows for something new to be learned either in a different way not seen before, or just in general something new. It is always a good idea for educators to research on their own about potential future lesson plan ideas in certain content areas. New information that is taught to professionals in a variety of different ways, allows for that information to be shared and passed on to other professionals to benefit their own knowledge and learning in regards to education.
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