The purpose of my SpEd inquiry
My SpEd inquiry was inspired by the students in ELL in my Social Studies 9 class, but my inquiry ultimately extended to all of my students. The purpose of my SpEd inquiry is to discover the different learning styles of my students, and then incorporate a variety of learning opportunities for my students based on these different learning styles. My goal was to put the students at the centre of my decision-making by asking them how they learn, and then adjusting my lessons (activities, projects, lectures etc.) around their feedback.
Involving students in the process
My first class of the semester was my Humanities 8 class. My SA told me that she often gives the students ten minutes to do a free write at the beginning of class. For our first free write, I had the students write an entry in reply to this question: “What do I need to know about you to make this semester successful for you?” I found that taking 10-15 minutes to have the students each tell me about themselves, including how they learn and what they need in order to be successful was an invaluable way to start the semester and ensure success for each student. Below are two examples of the entries I received:
On the first day of my Social Studies 9 class, I asked my students how they best learn and then recorded their feedback on the white board (I took a photo of the suggestions so I had them for my records). I received a wide variety of responses. I was challenged by the wide variety of learning styles in my classroom; while some students preferred individual work, others preferred group work, and while some students preferred hands-on activities, others preferred worksheets. Based on the class’s feedback, I tried a number of different teaching strategies in order to incorporate all of the different learning styles in my class—everything from verbal and visual teaching strategies to hands-on, activity based strategies. I planned written and visual assignments, interactive and individual activities and hands-on activities such as my dominos and “Farm Land” games to teach about the Early Modern Age and French Revolution. I made a point of individually talking to each of my students in ELL after our group activities, as I knew they were shy and not very comfortable doing these activities. I found that as the semester went on, they grew more and more comfortable in these activities.
I did a half-way check-in with the students, where I asked the students which teaching strategies were working best for them as well as what they would still like to try, then recorded their suggestions on the white board (I took a photo again, in order to have a copy for my records).
The Friday before Spring Break, I had the students do a survey where they recorded the learning strategies that worked best for them, with examples (e.g. hands on activities, such as the French Revolution game Farm Land), and what they would do differently next time if they could (what had they done in the past that they would like to do again, or what we did as a class that they found ineffective in their learning process). Needless to say, this inquiry will be ongoing for my entire career, as it has reinforced my belief that every student and class has unique needs and it is critical to discover these needs early on in order to ensure success for each student. I have chosen a few examples of the final feedback I received, which are attached below.