KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 5

Well hello again, friends! We’ve hit chapter five in Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, which is all about the strengths of students with intellectual disabilities.

I have had the pleasure of working with a few adults with Down syndrome through university and already know quite a bit about their strengths and other positive attributes. However, as far as teaching goes I am extremely inexperienced.

During my practicing, I had a student with Down syndrome in the class, but was unfortunately not given a chance to really cater to his educational needs as my mentor teacher had prepared all of his personalized lessons. However, he was fully in an integrated classroom and listened and participated in whole-class lectures before class work was assigned.

The most intriguing (and accurate) quote I found in this chapter stated that the largest obsticle faces by individuals with intellectual disabilities is that others place low expectations on them.

Indeed, if society continually tells someone they are unable to do something, chances are they’ll start to believe it themselves and may not even try. This frustrates me hugely as I believe all people should be given the opportunity to succeed and find their own happiness.

Further discussed is also how to best teach individuals with intellectual disabilities. I found this helpful as many of the tips relate to my students with learning disabilities as well, such as playing games and linking lessons to personal lives. It’s a fun way to teach curriculum, life skills, and communication.

If you’re interested in knowing more about the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. Stay tuned for our next chapter and happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 4

Hello again, friends. Chapter four in Neurodiversity in the Classroom is titled “The Gifts of Autism” and (go figure) discusses all the positive aspects of having students on the spectrum in your class and how to best teach them.

Indeed, students with autism tend to be difficult to work with simply because of their difficulty working with people, something most teachers (who are generally “people people”) struggle with.

This chapter is nice because, again it discusses successful role models who also have autism, as well as providing a lot of excellent strategies for working with students on the spectrum.

Working with assistive technology is particularly good for high-functioning autistic students because they prefer working with machines and technology to people.

Further, I also found the discussion of the best ways to engage with students with autism and increase their comfort level with human interaction to be particularly helpful.

Perhaps the most difficult thing teachers and aids face with students with autism is that they often cannot communicate what it is they want and need in the classroom. Thus, it’s our job to try to figure that out. Hopefully, with this chapter under my belt, I’ll find that easier to do in the future.

If you’re interested in Neurodiversity in the Classroom, here’s the link to it on Amazon.our next chapter is all about students with intellectual disabilities. Happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 3

Welcome back, friends! Today’s chapter in Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong is titled “The Joys of ADHD”.

Fellow teachers, I know the face you’re making because I made it too; what joys of ADHD?! I kid, I kid, but seriously, sometimes as teachers we really do just want to throw medication at the students running wildly amok while their classmates are sitting readily and patiently listening to our lessons.

The chapter starts with the story of a young student who assisted in preparing art lessons and ideas to a group of teachers in a non-classroom setting. He excelled and was a huge asset to those teachers and administrators he was assisting. However, in a traditional classroom setting, he ran wild and disrupted constantly, much to the teacher’s annoyance. The book says simply “in one setting he was a liability while in the other he was an asset”.

Indeed, teachers tend to be loving and kind people who see the best in all people, but we still have a difficult time adjusting our vision of what a classroom should look and sound like in order to best serve all kids.

We want our classrooms to be like the classrooms we remember, but we need to remember that the way in which we learned was not necessarily “right” and is not the way that everyone best learns.

My class usually is made up of about a quarter of students with ADHD, and about half of them are medicated. Why struggle constantly to reprimand these unmediated students for moving and speaking, when they can’t help doing so and we are not further enhancing their learning?

The chapter discusses many ways in which to enhance the learning of these students, notably finding assignments that they can relate to and allowing for a plethora of kinesthetic learning, which will not only serve to help students with ADHD succeed, but typical students as well.

If you are interested in the book, here is the link to it on Amazin for more information. I look forward to discussing chapter four with everyone!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 2

Last post, I discussed the first chapter of Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong. The first chapter was essentially an introduction to what the book would be focusing upon, and chapter two is where we jump right in.

Chapter two is titled “The Multiple Talents of Students with Learning Disabilities”.  I will say that the title and length of this chapter initially threw me for a loop.

First of all, as someone who teaches students with learning disabilities, I am already aware they have a huge plethora of talents and abilities. I am also aware that there are a vast number of different learning disabilities and to write in one small chapter all of the various learning disabilities and all of the hundreds of thousands of talents these children possess seemed no easy feat.

However, I will say that this chapter was very good at broadly discussing learning disabilities, most notably dyslexia, as well as strategies to incorporate in the classroom to help these students to succeed.

Each chapter in the book discusses various things students with neurodiversities need in the classroom and life to help them succeed (such as strength awareness and assistive technology), but one thing in particular which I really like is the inclusion of positive role models and success stories. Kids love to hear, see, and read about famous people who are like them. Knowing that they are struggling and that these people who have the same neurodiversities as them also struggled, but made it through and greatly succeeded is exactly what students need.

Indeed, it has inspired a project I want to begin in my classroom in which students research and present a role model to the class. It would be great for them to learn more about their “disability” as well as learn about how someone facing the same challenges succeeded on a large scale.

If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. Happy reading!

KIAT Book Club: Neurodiversity in the Classroom Ch. 1

Hello fellow avid readers! A few weeks ago we finished up Differentiation in Practice and this week, I’d like to begin Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong.

I began reading this book when it was given to our staff by our principal, as well as the staff of a fellow congregated school which deals with students with behaviour issues rather than learning disabilities.

I have to say, after reading the first chapter, I’m already hooked! What started out as “homework” has become a book I am thoroughly convinced could become the basis of all my future teaching practices.

The first chapter is basically just and introduction to the rest of the book. It discusses how students who struggle in the classroom, particularly with various learning challenges are always labelled “disabled” and we, as educators, try to find ways in which to conform them to the typical classroom (loads of medication, much?) rather than looking at the positives of their differences (neurodiversities) and moulding our lessons and classrooms around what they need.

The largest concept in which the chapter focuses on is that we need to focus on student strengths rather than their deficits. Indeed, who gets to decide what is a deficit in the first place? Who decides what is normal and what is not?

Indeed, I know this is only the introduction and many points made are “common sense”. However, as I previously stated, I believe this will be a book that I will use for the rest of my career to guide my practice as it delves deeper into ways in which to engage students with various neurodiversities.

If you are interested in the book, here is the link to it on Amazon. Chapter two discusses learning disabilities; stay tuned!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 6

Well friends, we’ve come to the last chapter in Differentiation in Practice by Carol Ann Tomlinson and Caroline Cunningham Eidson.

This chapter brings us back to English Language Arts and focuses on literature circles. To be more specific, it’s a unit designed to introduce students to literature circles.

As a new elementary teacher, I have of course heard of literature circles, but never actually used them. Thus, a unit to introduce them is perfect to introduce them both to my students as well as to myself!

One thing I quite like about literature circles is that they instill a sense of responsibility in students. They all know what their role is within the circle and if they do not complete it, they’re solely responsible.

Additionally, they allow students to work on communication and group work skills in a small group setting so that it’s not intimidating for students who suffer from anxiety or are shy.

This was a short chapter, but a good introduction to literature circles and a good jumping off point. It lists other helpful resources to aid teachers in implementing literature circles (Literature Circles by Daniels and Moving Forward with Literature Circles by Day, Spiegeleisen, McLellan, and Brown) which I know I will be checking out.

Alas friends, this has been our last chapter in Differentiation in Practice. If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. The next book I’ll be discussing is Neurodiversity in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, be sure to check it out!

KIAT Book Club: Differentiation in Practice Ch. 5

Oh my goodness! How excited was I to finish chapter four in Differentiation in Practice, flip the page, and discover chapter five was another math unit?! It’s hard to tell when someone is being sarcastic on the Internet, so let me tell you I am being absolutely sincere.

As I mentioned in chapter four, math is my weakness when it comes to teaching, so any extra resources are always welcomed with open arms.

This chapter is titled “It’s All a Matter of Chance” and is all about probability.

Beginning the chapter, the unit creator (Laura C. Massey) discusses her approach to homework within the unit, which differentiates homework as well as gives homework according the students’ own interests. I like this approach because it allows the students to really enjoy their homework and because it’s something that’s easier to do in a stays and probability unit over, say, a unit on operations.

Overall, I found this chapter helpful. Indeed, with statistics and probability there are a lot more fun activities to do with the class to aid in teaching; this was helpful in proving ways to differentiate those games, activities, and lessons for various learners.

If you’re interested in the book, here’s the link to it on Amazon. We’ve only got one more chapter left, folks!