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My school of observation was Melchi elementary school, Los Angeles, which has an intervention center for children whose performance is below average with reference to age and grade. The educator instructs the general classroom after meeting with the special needs students with delayed learning. The content taught is the same, but students who are slow to learn are given special attention to help them catch up with the rest of the students in the general classroom and at the same grade level. In addition to the usual learning with other students in the general classroom, the selected students with learning difficulties are given extra attention prior to the general classroom to enhance their understanding of content. I learned from the educator during an interview with her that these students were identified during the quarterly performance assessment.
During my visit to the school, I arbitrarily selected grade four students, and on this particular day, they were doing “Reading Skills.” I observed that the educator decoded information within the text to be read as a way of preparing students in advance to aid in understanding content. In addition, the educator used a multi-instructional approach and differentiated instructional approach in teaching the general classroom. For instance, visual aids were used to reinforce verbal instructions, concepts, and vocabulary. Along the way, students were engaged in cooperative learning, which entailed forming groups of five students and discussing a concept according to the instructions given by the educator. There was also the use of role-playing within the teams to enhance hands-on skills (Broderick, Heeral & Kim 195).
Evidence-based supplemental instructions were used for the intervention group. The first forty minutes of this intervention class were spent on individualized instruction. During this time, the teacher specialized in the weak areas of each student, for example phonetic, vocabulary development, spelling, or reading (Vaughn para 5-8). Later on, the students were given the chance to read aloud after the teacher agreed with them that each student would read his/her own passage aloud. During the reading out loud session, the teacher developed graphic organizers and presented them to the students later when she explained the concepts derived from the content they had read. The pre-extended special class allows students to have ample time to practice reading aloud because the students have difficulty reading when placed in a general class. The teacher told me that all the special students had been assigned “reading buddies” to help them improve their reading and communication skills (Broderick, Heeral & Kim 196-197). Since most of their breaks are consumed by the intervention classes, these classes integrate some game activities to arouse interest among the students. Monitoring and review of the performance of these special students are done after every month, and a student is only allowed to move on to the next level if he or she portrays improved performance (Vaughn para 1).
The educator used students’ native languages when they floundered about a particular response to a question. The use of native languages was aimed at helping students create a link between their own languages and English. In addition, they were given homework with reference to learned vocabulary. Students of the same native language were asked to come up with songs that integrated the learned English words to reinforce understanding and involve the family in the learning process of the students (Vaughn para 6-7).
Broderick, Alicia, Heeral Mehta-Parekh & Kim Reid. “Differentiating instruction for disabled students in inclusive classrooms.” Theory into Practice, 44.3 (2005): 194-202. Web.
Vaughn, Sharon. Response to Intervention in Reading for English Language Learners. National Center for Learning Disabilities, 2014. Web.