Last week I started teaching a class called Nature of Learning Disabilities. It is a combined class meaning it is an undergraduate class (EDU222) and a graduate class (EDEX622). This class meets one night a week for 16 weeks and consists of 9 students. Undergraduates have to do a field experience/case study and the graduates have to do the case study. Everyone has to do 2 article abstracts. The graduates will be doing a term project on a learning strategy and present it to the class. Plus they will have a midterm and a final exam.
The biggest challenge for me is that I want to make this meaningful for all of my students. I don’t want the undergraduates to be intimidated by the graduate students who are all teachers. I don’t want the graduate students to think that I’m watering this down because they are in the class with undergraduate students. I want a good balance of informational material but I want the activities to meet their ability levels.
In order to do this I put my students in groups of threes. One group is the graduate students and when they do their activities, they will be able to apply their experience and knowledge to their work. Another group is the seniors who may have a some experience with children. The other group consists of the juniors who have a little less experience than everyone else.
I plan on spending every class period going over the informational things (from the textbook and personal stories). They will also do some group activities covering the main topic for the class.
The last part of class is going to be simulations. I want them to apply what they have learned in class and what they have read in their textbook to a class simulation. Each group will be given a roster of 3 children. I will give them some information about previous class struggles and some testing information I have on each child. Each week they will apply the activity to their group of students. This will include preassessments, behavior plans, instructional activities, post assessments, and writing an IEP. I hope by doing this application of knowledge, they will find what they learn in my class to be meaningful.
I also hope that the graduate students learn some things that they can use in their own classrooms. Maybe the undergraduates will learn strategies that will help them in their own learning.
I hope you can tell that I’m excited about this class! I just hope the students feel the same way and at the end of the class, we all can feel that we accomplished something.