In my teaching experiences, I was able to interact with very diverse groups of learners. Each classroom gave me the opportunity to grow in my skills by finding new ways to help students grasp the content being taught.

Students capture wind energy outside

Diversity in Student Populations and Approaches to Learning

Since September of 2009, I have been a 5th grade teacher at Hybla Valley Elementary School in Alexandria, VA. It is a Title I school, with approximately 89% of the student population eligible for free and reduced lunch, and 66% of the population having Limited English Proficiency. For 2 years, I have enjoyed working with the inclusion class. This year, I teach 21 students (11 boys and 10 girls). One-third of my class receives Special Education services, and one-third receives Advanced Academic services. Having such a heterogeneous group of students makes it necessary to differentiate my lessons to meet the needs of all of my students.

My elementary student teaching experience was completed at Norge Elementary School in Williamsburg, Virginia. It is a Title I school, with approximatey 32% of the student population eligible for free or reduced lunch. My third grade class comprised of 22 students, with 12 boys and 10 girls. Four students were African-American, and 1 student recently emigrated from Bulgaria. The class was pretty heterogeneous in terms of ability, which allowed great opportunities for differentiation, especially through group work. Most of the students in the class were kinesthetic and visual learners, and knowing this allowed me to tailor my instruction to fit their needs (Competency 4). While completing observations in my classroom, I noticed one student who had difficulty staying on task. I observed that, when the student was off task, the student would rock his/her chair very loudly, or distract other students. This prompted me to do some research on how to keep the student’s attention (Competency 10). The following document is a lesson plan providing a research-based intervention for this student. Intervention lesson (math).pdf

I completed my 6th grade student teaching experience at Berkeley Middle School in Williamsburg, Virginia. The student population represents many cultures and backgrounds, and approximately 19% of the students are eligible for free or reduced lunch. In my 6th grade experience, I worked with 90 students. One-sixth of these students had an identified disability, and the same amount of students was identified as gifted. As I began to teach more, I found that many of the students, especially those identified with disabilities, had difficulties with reading comprehension. I also found that students grasped information best through auditory and kinesthetic means. These pieces of information gave me the tools to make my instruction fit my classes (Competency 4). The following document is a lesson plan on the Earth’s interior developed for my 6th grade Science classes. The lesson was designed to include kinesthetic, visual, and auditory learners, made interdisciplinary connections to Math and Social Studies, and was differentiated based on interest and ability (Competency 10). Please click on the following link to view the document. Earth’s Interior Lesson.pdf

Non-linguistic representation of an earthquake legend, as described by the student: An evil alien shakes the Earth, and we feel it as an earthquake.
A group of students use both writing and drawing to express their earthquake legend.

Collaboration with Specialists

In both settings, I was able to work with specialists in the building to adapt instruction for my students. In 3rd grade, I was able to work with the media
Students share Venn diagrams about Ancient Astronomers
specialist and reading specialist to find books and other visual representations of simple machines for students to use during instruction. The reading specialist and I worked very closely to find books for read-alouds that would target certain reading skills, and were engaging for students. In middle school, there was a special education paraeducator in the room to assist certain students. We worked together to provide accommodations and modify instruction for optimal learning by modifying tests, and developing routines together.

At Hybla Valley, I work very closely with a special education co-teacher. We co-teach during Word Study and Science, and collaborate to ensure that every student understands the material being taught. We work as a team to create academic and behavioral goals for our students, especially those who receive special education services. I also work very closely with the ESOL teacher at my school to meet the needs of the English Language Learners in my class.