Inclusive Teaching Strategies in a General Classroom

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Introduction

The modern society clearly proves the fact that learning becomes a significant process in a man’s life. It is due to the logic of development of a society where sustainable development could be achieved only through the intensification of the use of intellectual resources. This requirement is supported, on the one hand, by the progress of the science that is based on the training materials corresponding to the current state of knowledge about the world and, on the other hand, by the development of pedagogical and psychological innovations. Another sign of the time is the growing role of individuality. In this regard, the value of education along with the question of effective learning strategies is raising.

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According to the Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians, “Australian governments and all school sectors must provide all students with access to high-quality schooling that is free from discrimination based on gender, language, sexual orientation, pregnancy, culture, ethnicity, religion, health or disability, socioeconomic background or geographic location” (Barr et al., 2008, p. 7). Inclusive learning is a form of the organization of the learning process, in which all students regardless of their physical, mental, intellectual, cultural, ethnic, linguistic and other features are included in mainstream education and taught in the community with their peers at the same schools.

Description of unit

The unit selected for the assignment is the first contacts Europeans made with native Australians. The XVIII century was marked by great social changes that have resulted in an increase in crime in the United Kingdom. The main reason for this was poverty. Trying to stop it, the authorities issued a strict law involving deportation in English colonies. Besides, in the 1770s, the British explorer James Cook landed on the eastern part of the continent and put it on the map. He declared these lands in the property of the King of England beginning the first British colony in Australia. The solution was found. January 26, 1788, is a date that is now celebrated as Australia Day, but some indigenous people and their supporters consider that day as a “Day of survival” or “Day of the invasion as it was ships of the First Fleet of Britain (criminal transport) that arrived at the Sydney Cove beach to create Botany Bay. Initially, it was mainly a penal colony with a minority of free settlers. Over time, except for convicts from England and Ireland, free settlers attracted by the opportunity to get a piece of land began to arrive, too. They were mainly engaged in raising sheep, using the labor of convicts. Howbeit, the colonial settlement affected Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people perniciously. Plenty of Aboriginal people were used as cheap labor and died from diseases imported by Europeans, to which they had no immunity.

The Purpose of the Learning and Teaching Strategies

Successful academic functioning requires accurate consideration before being delivered to the relevant student and chosen educational strategy. With the aim of appropriate teaching, a responsive teacher has to plan and organize learning strategies of every lesson for each of the following domains of – curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and environment. The above measures contribute to the integration of the general class and develop every student as individual at the same time.

Curriculum: Different Focus within the same Year Level

To meet the needs of students, it is necessary to choose the proper curriculum strategy. In my opinion, curriculum should be accessible to all students in the classroom.

The organization of curriculum in education built on the principles of alternating cycles of collective and individual forms of educational activity (in other words, thematic and transitional learning). Usually, lessons are combined in thematic blocks (for example, workload on the history for a month) that concentrate per week. The basic unit of the educational process ceases to be a lesson and becomes a block of lessons of an exact subject outlined in the program of an academic subject. Naturally, the increase of the meaning of a new unit of the educational process causes a change in its internal structure involving obligatory variety of forms of educational work within the general unity and integrity of the content. The transitional space (three weeks between two thematic blocks) allocated for independent (individual) or teamwork.

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The idea of the concentrated training (“diving”) is not strictly necessary to distinguish between these “spaces” but is one of the possible solutions to the question of their distinction. Consequently, there are both transient and stable periods of the educational process in student’s learning curriculum. Moreover, the content of the students’ work expressed in a series of assignments (projects, case studies, etc.) should be prepared. With the aim of organizing such an independent work, teacher needs to understand that all the tasks should be unique. In other words, the subject of special care becomes a response to the question of the result of learning. What are conditions when students learn better and how to construct an appropriate curriculum for every student? In this regard, individual curriculum allows a student to perform an independent search for the theoretical knowledge and general modes of action choosing subject he or she wants to study. It does not mean loneliness in academic work but means the ability to expand educational cooperation with others proactively. It is an individualization of educational activity occurring in adolescence and high school that develops strong points of every particular student.

In spite of the fact that there are students of different nations, knowledge, or other diversities in the same group, it is still possible to learn together. The central idea is that every student perceives the information differently; therefore, he or she might have different focus within the same year level. Thus, I consider that a teacher should plan and organize flexible and individual curriculum so that every student would have access to the chosen subject.

Pedagogy: Cooperative Learning Strategy

I consider cooperative learning strategy is the most suitable for the given topic as it develops constructivism and is centered on social interaction. Cooperative learning is closely linked to the motivational process. According to Killen, “the learners must function as a cohesive group to achieve specific learning goals” (2009, p. 212). For instance, successful students who are distinguishes by their personal initiative, a higher level of self-efficacy beliefs in self-motivation, competence in relation to the target orientation, and focus on strategic planning. On the contrary, slow learners are distinguished by their arising apathy and helplessness including in attempting to improve the quality of their education. They are often assessing their knowledge and skills too high that leads to the neglect of their studies, non-strategic approaches, delay, and inadequate attribution. Moreover, James emphasizes, cooperative learning is not just a group working together but also the process when “student groups are assigned a task for which each member’s contribution is essential for the good of the whole group” (2011, p.). Therefore, cooperative learning contributes to the interaction of all students in the class and productive learning.

Besides, some of the students might give their individual examples and evaluation of the past events telling their family stories or showing some documents along with pictures of that time. However, the chosen strategy requires a cooperative reward system as well. The aim of a teacher principally lies in the providing students with tools and instructions for learning and monitoring their join work.

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In particular, so-called “Six Thinking Hats” method Six Hats method is one of the most effective methods of organization of thinking designed by English writer, psychologist, and expert in the field of creative thinking Edward de Bono. Six Thinking Hats method allows to develop flexibility of mind, creativity, helps to make the decision, and more specifically relate thinking with the objectives and challenges. It is particularly well suited for the discussion of unusual and innovative ideas when it is important to take into account any views and to consider the situation from different planes as in that case when students have to enlighten the topic from both Europeans and Aboriginals side. For instance, students might use the mentioned strategy plot the journey of the First Fleet on both maps and timelines.

Assessment Strategy: Oral Examination

Every completed work needs to be assessed. By grading students, a teacher educates them affecting their learning, performance, and consciousness. In the case, a teacher does it correctly, he or she develops attentiveness and diligence that allows them evaluate their performance and even the progress of others. In addition, students’ assessment generates motivation to learn more in an effective manner. Any assessment whether it is positive or negative impact motivation, in particular, an incentive for students’ activity and behavior in the future. First and foremost, it is of a great importance for a teacher to decide the items of assessment as usually it consists of “elements that examine the quality of content knowledge, thinking skills, communication skills, and work habits” (Hibbard, 2013, p. 33). I believe that in this case, students work should be evaluated in one way. The form of oral examination should reveal the understanding of the whole class and to be performed orally as “success in oral exams is a much better reflection of preparation for life in workplace or team collaboration” (Foote, 2015, p. 11). The effectiveness of oral assessment is in its diversity. The more diverse the teacher sets up the work in the classroom and the more different techniques he or she uses, the higher the quality of his or his lesson and, as a result, understanding of the unit. Nevertheless, most importantly, oral speech promotes relax of students by means of their better answers and comprehension. By the way, students might demonstrate their knowledge by writing an academic paper to ensure all students are able to demonstrate the understandings they have developed through the unit, too. Precisely speaking, an essay discussing findings of 2-3 pages might be written.

Thus, at the end of a lesson students should be able to come up with a complete and correct answer on the basis of the material studied, highlight the main points, confirm the answer with specific examples and fact, and perform reasoned analysis of the topic. Namely, teacher might ask about all the details of first contacts Europeans made with native Australians including the First Fleet and Botany Bay. Moreover, students are required to apply their knowledge creatively in an unfamiliar situation based on their previously acquired knowledge (for example, write answers on suggested case study). Additionally, students have to give the answers in a logical sequence using the accepted terminology clearly, reasonably, and accurately drawing their personal conclusions. The literary language and thorough respond to the additional questions of the teacher are also matter. Finally, they should efficiently use audiovisual aids, reference materials, textbooks, and primary sources.

Environment: Whole Class Learning Set Up

It goes without saying that there a lot of instruments of the classroom environment that either engage students in learning process or distracts. According to Johns (2011), a classroom should be a place to call home, as the beauty and comfort of its environment are important (p. 64). I agree with Phillips (2014) who states, “teacher will need to move the tables to the back and sides when you want to bring students together” because such a set up of the room leads to the whole class discussion (para. 10). To create the right atmosphere for discussion, desks could be arranged around the perimeter of the class, but not the way it is usually done for official meetings. I offer to arrange seats in the resulting square shaping so-called “communication circle.” At the same time, the way to the door should be open.

As a result, desks form a sort of square inside which seats are placed, and one of them is for a teacher. The most of the lesson, the teacher and students sit facing each other while desks and tables remain behind. All have their chairs so that it is convenient. The fact is that all the participants in this conversation see each other’s faces and are equal; also, the teacher is the focal point of the conversation but not the main participant. Students have the opportunity to speak directly to each other rather than to the teacher waiting for his reaction to their words. Sometimes, during a discussion, it is required to make certain records in order to comprehend information deeper. To do this, students might simply deploy chairs work with books and notebooks if required. The teacher also has the ability to come to any student to help or provide with necessary materials or instructions. Finally, it is rather easy to go back to the general discussion.

Conclusion

In conclusion, it should be stated that so-called “big picture” planning that consists of four crucial parts of curriculum, pedagogy, assessment, and environment takes into account all the necessary lesson-planning issues. Due to the proper planning, the rational organization of educational process, application of teaching facilities, and students’ productivity are achieving. As a result, one might observe that learning process embraces the diversity of every student in a general class. It becomes possible to study together for students with different English level, subject knowledge, nationality, and other peculiarities.

References

Barr, A., Gillard, J., Firth, V., Scrymgour, M., Welford, R., Lomax-Smith, J… Constable, E. (2008). Melbourne Declaration on Educational Goals for Young Australians. Web.

Foote, A. (2015). Oral exams: Preparing for and passing candidacy, qualifying, and graduate defenses. New York: Elsevier.

Hibbard, M. (2013). Performance-Based Learning & Assessment in Middle School Science. New York: Routledge.

James, S. (2011). Revisiting an Old Friend: The Practice and Promise of Cooperative Learning for the Twenty-First Century, The Social Studies, 102(2), 88-93.

Johns, B. (2011). 401 practical adaptations for every classroom. Thousand Oaks, Calif.: Corwin.

Killen, R. (2009). Using cooperative learning as a teaching strategy. In : Effective teaching strategies : lessons from research and practice. 5th ed. (pp. 211-241). South Melbourne, Vic.: Cengage Learning.

Phillips, M. (2014). A Place for Learning: The Physical Environment of Classrooms. Web.

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