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Diversity of Student Populations:
During my practicum and student teaching experiences at D.J. Montague, I worked with a wide variety of student populations. In fall 2008, I worked in a classroom with 9 male and 9 female students. Out of the 18 students in this kindergarten classroom, 6 were African American, 1 was Pacific Islander, and 11 were Caucasian. One child had an Individualized Education Plan. Numerous accommodations were made to ensure that the student with an Individualized Education Plan had a successful kindergarten experience. During my student teaching experience in spring 2009, I taught 21 kindergarten students. This classroom was comprised of 12 girls and 9 boys. I met the diverse needs of 4 African American students, 1 Asian student, 2 Hispanic students, and 14 Caucasian students. This classroom included 5 children with very different Individualized Education Programs. A wide variety of different accommodations were made to better serve the needs of these kindergartners. Approximately 5 students in this classroom received free or reduced lunch. This classroom also included a small group of gifted and talented students. In addition, I worked one-on-one with a kindergarten student who was on a 3rd grade reading level to ensure that he was being challenged academically. We also had 3 students who were severely below grade level in this classroom. With the support of my cooperating teacher, I worked with these students to improve their academics.

Different Learning Styles and Providing for Individual Differences:
Students differed greatly in their approaches to learning in the two kindergarten classrooms I had the opportunity to complete my practicum and student teaching experiences. I created a variety of different lesson plans to meet the needs and intrigue the students who I worked with. I created lesson plans to accommodate visual learners, auditory learners, and kinesthetic learners (Competency 4). For example, to help my visual learners understand concepts I created PowerPoint presentations, used a document camera during lessons, and created posters in the classroom. Pictured below is a mathematics lesson I taught using the document camera and the large pull down screen.

To help my auditory learners, I sang mathematics, science, and social studies songs. I also spoke directions as well as modeling them for the classroom. To accommodate my kinesthetic learners, I created hands-on experiences for the students and encouraged them to act out different lessons. Another way that I provided for individual differences was to work with four flexible ability groups during guided reading. This grouping allowed the students to receive instruction that was on their appropriate reading level. As a result, two young students improved drastically and were able to move to the next highest reading level. As I got to know my students better, I was able to understand their emotions and academic strengths and weaknesses so that I could more effectively meet their needs.
As I got to know my students better, I was able to understand their emotions and academic strengths and weaknesses so that I could more effectively meet their needs. Also, I observed a student with an Individualized Education Program for several days and then created a individualized lesson plan.doc tailored to meet his most immediate needs. I taught this letter formation lesson to a small group of students who possessed a similar weakness in the formation of letters.

Collaboration in the Classroom:
By collaborating with the special education teacher and special education aide at D.J. Montague Elementary school I truly believe the students with Individualized Education Programs benefitted in my classroom. We spoke on a daily basis regarding student behavior and academics to ensure both teachers were communicating and on the same page. I had the opportunity to shadow and interview.doc the special education teacher one day during my practicum experience to have a better understanding of her duties and ways to meet the needs of these diverse learners. Collaboration with the families of the students in the kindergarten classrooms I taught in was extremely necessary. For students with behavior problems, I send home notes daily regarding their behavior at school each day. This allowed the parents and teachers to communicate daily. In addition, students were very eager to receive a good report home each day. I also spoke with parents regarding the appropriateness of guided reading texts that were sent home weekly. I wanted to make sure that the students were able to read the books once they got home, not just in our classroom. The variety of ways that I communicated and collaborated with different teachers and parents was beneficial to the students that I taught.