Thursday, May 31, 2012

Diverse Learners

In my classroom I do not have a lot of cultural difference, but as I studied the six elements listed in Cennamo's Technology Integration... I realized I do view myself as a culturally responsive teacher. The last four really hit home for me: feeling personally responsible for helping my school reach every student, understanding how my students learn, knowing about the lives of my students, and design lessons based on prior knowledge. All four of these revolve around really knowing and understanding my students. I do my best to truly get to know each student. Whether it's a one-on-one discussion in the morning or the hockey games I attend after school, I enjoy getting to know my kiddos.
Technology in my classroom supports my students varying abilities. On page 274 it states that it's important to realize that equitable access to technology does not necessarily mean equal time spent using technology (Cennamo 2010). It needs to be used however it meets each, individual student's needs. For my enrichment kiddos I often post links to webquests or other websites where they can be challenged. When using it with the whole class, I try to find games to support a skill and I usually try to find at least 2 different levels. For example once most of my kiddos were getting the hang of long division I found some sites to practice on. One of the sites reminded the student of each step they just had to figure the numbers. The next step up was a site where they filled in the numbers without help, but if they needed help they could click the hint key. The highest level was simply a problem generator and then they could check for the correct answer. Students started at their ability level and could move up as they got better. This also allows me time to pull some enrichment kiddos off the computers and work with extending the skill.
I am not a teacher who does a lot of future planning, because my plans are constantly changing.  When teaching a skill I am constantly assessing and trying to decide whether to move on or keep working on that skill. I am very fortunate to be a part of a team that works so well and often I will check in with them on their student's progress. They can often give suggestions for my struggling students or sometimes we find that both of our classes are doing really well and we are ready to move on. One of those elements I listed above was understanding how they learn and I think my awareness of they abilities, and learning styles is what guides my planning. 
One aspect that I always have good intentions of, but haven't quite mastered is helping my students be reflective of their own work. I want them to think more deeply about their results and thinking. Cennamo states that an active part of metacognition would be allowing students to chose artifacts to include in a portfolio (page 267). While I have done this I want to make it a more regular habit and help them chose pieces that truly reflect their abilities. 

Cennamo, K., Ross, J. D., Ertmer, P. A., & International Society for Technology in Education. 

(2010). Technology integration for meaningful classroom use: A standards-based approach

Belmont, Calif: Wadsworth.


  1. In my second grade class last year, we really spent time talking about metacognition, schema, determing importance, and other skills. We used that terminology. I also need to grow in the reflective piece. We spent so much time mastering what these skills were and what they meant. I missed the chance to have the students really look back and be reflective with their own learning. This is something I will definitely be working on to improve this coming year also.

  2. Ariel,
    You deserve some serious credit for offering your students a diverse learning environment despite not having students from diverse backgrounds (at least that's what I gathered from your post). It would be really easy for you to have a cookie cutter approach to your classroom every day and to not try to reach all of your students. It would also be very easy for you to just assume that all of your students learn in the same way because they come from similar environments. I have a very diverse class in terms of student race, socioeconomic background and home life so it is much easier to notice and be aware of diversity. It takes a special teacher to have an awareness of diversity when it is not immediately noticeable. Major kudos to you!