Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Teaching to diverse learners

Schools are becoming more diverse today more than ever before and this gives teachers a multitude of teachable moments that will help students to become more aware and understanding of other cultures.  Classroom teachers are not the only ones that should be trying to teach students about the different cultures.  The physical education teachers can use games from around the world to teach students about other cultures.  By teaching the students games that are played in different cultures students get a better understanding of those cultures.  This is also great because students who come from different backgrounds get to play games that are part of their culture and see everyone else enjoying them as well.  The book gives some teaching strategies on how to become better at involving students of all cultures and ethnicity into the class.   They use the acronym DIVERSE to help readers remember these strategies. 
The D in DIVERSE stands for diverse instructional materials.  This means that the students need to be able to see different diverse thoughts and views through your teaching styles.  By incorporating as many different aspects and views from a multitude of different cultures students will be able to think more diversely.  Classroom teachers can work on this by encouraging students to put themselves in other peoples shoes.  In the gymnasium the physical education teacher can do this by going over different variations of each game used in different cultures.  Another way to do this would be to inform the students of how and where all the sports and games originated. 
The I in DIVERSE stands for Inclusive.  This is very a very simple idea but sometimes challenging task to execute in the classroom situation.  In every class there will be students who have different skill levels and it is important that each lesson be beneficial to all the students.   In order to do this it is important to have a bunch of modifications for each activity that will make it harder or easier.  This is easier said than done.  Making sure each and every student is getting the most out of each class is one of the most difficult things about being a teacher.  When all the students are being challenged but are still able to be successful this will not only be more beneficial for them but also more enjoyable. 
The V in DIVERSE stands for Variety.  All students learn differently some learn faster and some slower, some need visual aids and some just need to hear it once and they get it.  In order to reach the most students it is important to teach to all these different styles.  In physical education it is very important to not only describe the activity to the students but also have a short demonstration.  It is also beneficial to have cue words that the students can say out loud or in their head to help them remember the steps.    Having visual aids all around the gymnasium and using them as frequently as possible will also be very helpful for students.
The E in DIVERSE stands for exploration.  By encouraging students to learn about different cultures and their beliefs it will start to expand their minds and way of thinking.  Some of the ways to do this in the gymnasium would be to incorporate games and activities that are popular in different cultures.  The class play across cultures that SUNY Cortland offers is a great way to learn about these different games and cultures.   
The R in DIVERSE stands for Reaction.  This strategy is all about teacher feedback and how it is important to take the proper amount of time and consideration when giving students feedback.   The students need to know what they are doing wrong and how to fix it so it is important to give them specific feedback that is easy to understand and helpful for their improvement.  Physical educators need to be able to spot the simple mistakes students and making and give them advice on how to fix them.  It is important that the teacher is giving each and every student in the class feedback.  It can be a challenge to give students feedback and manage the class at the same time.  One way to do this would be to have stations set up and the teacher can stay at one station and give the students feedback as they all move through each station. 
The S in DIVERSE stands for Safety.  In physical education teachers mainly focus on keep students safe from physical harm.  However it is equally important to keep them safe from verbal and mental harm.  Making sure bullying and offensive comments stay out of the gymnasium can be quite the challenge.  Due to the competitive nature of a lot of the activities students will be performing in physical education it is important to pay very close attention to what the students are saying to one another.  It is important to let the students know early on that there is zero tolerance when it comes to bullying.  It is very important to strictly follow the policy to let the students know that you are serious.   Another good idea is to put up bully boxes throughout the school.  These are locked boxes where students can anonymously report any bullying that they see or that is directed at them.  Students all deserve to feel safe in school and this is just one way to do that.
The final E in DIVERSE stands for Evaluation.   When planning what evaluations will be used it is important to make sure that all students will have an equal opportunity to be successful on it.  This means if you are teaching a class that has some ESL students in it try giving an evaluation using mainly pictures, or grade them based more heavily on skill.  Making sure the tests are fair and are an appropriate measure of each students skills is important.
When teaching it is very important to treat all the students fairly and equally, because if you don’t they will notice.  Students definitely pick up on teachers giving out preferential treatment to other students and it will affect their performance.  Everyone just wants to be treated the same as everyone else and if they feel like they are being treated differently it will be upsetting and possibly effect their performance.  

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