Amongst the learning differences that learners have is emotional and behavioral disorders which are psychological disorders that bring imbalance in an individual’s behavior and emotions. The extreme difficulties associated with this mental disorder affect the child or learner’s life and make it hard to manage their emotions or make good decisions (Davis, Culotta, Levine, & Rice, 2021). It is common to see learners with this disorder engage in emotional outbursts with teachers, classmates, and other people in authority through actions like threats, swearing, fighting, arguing, bossing around, teasing, and demeaning others. One of the materials that can be used to manage aggression in learners is using a squishing ball with an anger inventory card.
My thoughts when choosing this material as a management tool for emotional and behavioral disorders like aggression were focused on getting control of the hands of the learner. Any aggressive individual tends to translate their aggressiveness resulting from emotional imbalance through actions such as grabbing others, throwing fists, or destroying objects. This fact, therefore, informs us that there is a need to take care of the hands for aggression to be managed effectively (Davis et al., 2021). The anger inventory card is where they will be noting down the times they felt a rush of aggression and the cause of the aggression. The students can then go with the card at the end of the day or week to the teacher, at which they can analyze the causes of anger, how they managed the anger, and look at what they could have done better in such instances. When deciding on the choice of material, I considered one that could be used by the student alone and not the whole class. The learner can use the material at any place, i.e., at home, school, and supermarket. All the learner needs to do is carry the ball in their pockets and grab it whenever they face a situation that provokes their emotions and document the instances in the inventory card I developed.
Applying these balls and anger inventory cards has various pedagogical benefits, including creating a sober environment for teaching (McMahon et al., 2020). Furthermore, the learners will not engage in activities that put their stay in the school at risk, thereby reducing learning turmoil associated with expulsion and suspensions due to emotional mismanagement. Besides, since the students are still young, continued use of the balls will enable them to manage their emotions in the long run, and hence they grow into safe and responsible individuals in society.
The major challenge I faced when coming up with this strategy was the students’ adoption of these balls and cards. Many people do not like to be associated with a disorder such as aggression which in most cases is associated with lunatics (McMahon et al., 2020). I had an issue coming up with ways to erase that stigma of associating the holders of the balls and cards with people who need to be in a psychiatric facility.
To improve this material, there is a need to sensitize the students about the tools to understand their importance and avoid creating superstitions about it. This way, it will be adopted by the scholars easily. Another thing I would have done differently was ask the students themselves what they thought about applying the material to manage their aggression. Maybe through such a move, I would have learned other ways of applying it effectively and foresee the challenges associated with its application.
Autism spectrum disorder
Autism spectrum disorder is a developmental cognitive condition that involves long-term challenges like repetitive behavior, communication, and restricted interests. The condition stipulates signs from as easily as childhood stages which can be deduced by a pediatrician, parent, or caregiver (Crais et al., 2020). Some of the social communication problems associated with the condition include low sharing and appreciation of the interests and emotions of others, avoiding eye contact, low proficient application of gestures, scripted or stilted speech, and difficulty getting new friends. In contrast, restricted or repetitive behaviors include difficulty dealing with changes, abnormal hypersensitivity, particular movement of body parts and arrangement of things like toys. Prelock, 2021). In a classroom, students with the learning differences show signs such as low concentration, seclusion, struggling with conversations, lack of interest in subjects that aren’t their favorite, giving wrong gestures, difficulty in understanding concepts, abnormal speech, getting offended by a change in routine, writing difficulties, amongst others that make learning hard. As a teacher, one of the materials that can be used to deal with such students is using a tablet instead of writing the content on paper. The thought pattern for this decision is guided by the fact that students with autism spectrum disorder have difficulties writing down on paper. Hence, using a preset computer device like a writing tablet will eliminate that problem as they will just have to click on the letters as they write. The choice of the material solely considered the student alone as it assumed that the other students were fine and needed no help with writing.
That being said, it should be noted that writing is critical in education as it enhances the comprehension of concepts and makes a scholar concentrate on them to make good notes. If these students are not deprived of their ability to write, then as they shall be writing on those special writing tablets, they will concentrate in class and understand the content being taught well. With these two benefits in place, the students will be able to score good marks in class.
The major challenge I faced when coming up with the application of this material was finding the right tablet for the student. A good tablet for learners who have autism includes the high cost associated with them and the need to develop a program that the learner can use (Crais et al., 2020). Another challenge I came across was considering the other students who shall be wiring down on paper since they shall view that scholar with learning differences as a special student. Such issues can result in stigmatization and eventual seclusion, which is bad for their education.
I would have first made sure that the learner knew how to operate a tablet to improve the material. In cases where the learner cannot use it then, some training needs to be done for the students to be acclimatized to the tablet before entering the classroom. Some of the programs, such as a word processor, are hard and expensive to come by. This way, they will be a smooth and organized transition in educational materials used by students and educators to make such scholars’ education a success.
Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder is a combination of difficulties in attention, impulsive behavior, and hyperactivity. The three major subtypes of this disorder include predominately inattentive, predominantly impulsive/hyperactive, and combined form. In the inattention type, children show signs such as lack of attention to details, making careless mistakes in class, failure of focusing on play or tasks, poor listening skills, failure to follow instructions on chores and schoolwork, difficulty in the organization of tasks and activities, easy distraction, forgetfulness, and losing toys and school materials easily (Podsiadlik, 2021). Those with impulsivity and hyperactivity are always in motion, can’t stay seated in class, make noise in class, cannot wait for their turns and keep interrupting others, play a lot, and fidget a lot which hampers their concentration. The material I want to apply when dealing with the condition is software for checking completed activities and rewards. The software, which is an application, should have the activities scheduled for the day, such as the homework to be completed and rewards for completion, which can then be redeemed as sweets or biscuits. I chose this material because it is technological and hence easy to use since many children now have tablets and phones at their disposal. Besides, the application can be shared amongst other students easily. I created the material for use both at school and at home for the student only as one person can only use it.
The pedagogical benefit of this method is that it shall help the ADHD students to participate in classroom activities just like other students even though they have shortcomings related to their concentration on one activity (Iseman, Silverman, & Jeweler, 2021). For instance, through such a tool, the students can engage in all homework activities and complete them on time as they shall be yearning to get the rewards coming in the form of sweets and biscuits. In the long run, the students engage in classwork, improve their concentration on tasks, grasp content, and perform well in their exams.
The major challenge associated with coming up with this material is the expertise in developing the software. Not everyone has the skills to come up with such a software customized for students with autism, and hence acquiring such software is expensive and complicated. It also requires training for the learners to understand how to use it.
To improve the development and adoption of this material, I would have first and foremost considered the complexities associated with applications, such as compatibility with Android or iOS phones and tablets, since the students have different access devices. Besides, I would have considered the differences in the students’ abilities to use the materials effectively before coming up with the data and structure of the applications. This way, I would have come up with a better product.
Learning Disability (dyscalculia)
Another learning difference that affects scholars is dyscalculia which is the inability of a learner to process and comprehend math problems. The major signs of the condition in a classroom setting include a difficulty linking numbers and amounts, trouble adding and to subtract basic figures, difficulty with counting numbers forward and backward, trouble solving mathematical problems, poor spatial and visual orientation, trouble sorting direction and recognizing patterns and sequences (Kelly, 2020). To counter this problem in learners, I prepared a math game which different questions ranging from simple to hard. The games consist of a table with answers to math questions consisting of additions, subtractions, multiplications, and division on one page. My thoughts when creating this material were on creating a comprehensive resource for scholars to do simple math with the hope that it will prepare them for advanced levels. This material is good for a home setting as the student is alone and can practice answering the questions independently.
It is without a doubt that dyscalculia can be alarming and disadvantages an individual if it advances to adulthood because he or she won’t be in apposition to carry out basic functions like calculate change at the glossary, buy things at the supermarket, pay bills, or check on the time on his or her watch. Practicing these simple mathematics in the math game will improve the scholar’s cognitive ability to link numbers and amounts to find the right solution for various math problems they encounter in their daily lives (Farrell, 2021). The game will also improve the learner’s grades in the classroom.
The major challenge associated with this resource is the limited number and levels of calculations the student can engage in at a single time. This aspect makes it a slow process for learning and changing the condition. Besides, getting all those questions on a single page is quite hectic.
One of the things I would do differently when administering the game is to create an avenue for it to be a bit competitive in nature where more than one player can engage. With little competition, there will be an urge to perform better, which improves their ability to calculate and solve math problems.
Gifted and talented students
Gifted learners are those children with high innate ability, while talented children show high-performance levels in various activities. Some of the problems these students face in their daily lives include organization and attention issues because there are abstract thinkers that get bored quickly, burnout, inability to make new friends, perfectionism, and control issues, which, when not solved, can affect their learning (VanTassel-Baska and Baska, 2021). The learning material I developed for gifted and talented students is a bonus card. Since most of these students tend to understand and do things faster than the others, it is common to find them bored and underserved if they have nothing extra to do. So for every assignment, I give the students the bonus card that shall be availed for the gifted and talented students to write what they know about the topic that I did not put in the assignment questions. It was based on the rationale that they needed extra work or challenges that guided the development of this material. The students can only use the materials at home and at school since they can give their extra efforts for bonus points on any assignment.
The pedagogical benefit of this bonus card is that it will support the abilities of the gifted and talented students by giving them a chance to put down what they have learned for them to get more points (Gubbins et al., 2021). This card will help to avoid making the classes and assignments boring and irrelevant to them as it will challenge them to read more and answer more questions. This way, they will stay in class with other students and learn more about the topics in class.
When developing this material, the major challenge I came across is the complex nature of gifted and talented students since you cannot tell what they know about a particular topic. Therefore it is hard to come up with the bonus card assignments as you could easily make it more complex than they can handle at their age.
What I would have done better during the development of the bonus card involves the gifted and talented students when making the card to understand their understanding of the topic or assignment in question and even get their views on the use of the material. This way, I would create accurate bonus card assignments which they could handle and make learning interesting. Besides, they would feel included in the learning process, which is good for their attitudes towards their learning subjects.
In conclusion, students with learning differences like emotional and behavioral disorders, autism spectrum disorder, ADHD, learning disabilities like dyscalculia, and gifted and talented have a right to be included in the curriculum to benefit from education like other students. Therefore, there is a need to develop ways of taking care of their learning differences by creating materials they can use that cater to their unique abilities. Materials such as anger inventory cards, math games, bonus cards, writing tablets, and other software can help the students manage their learning differences and engage in classroom activities like others.
Davis, M. R., Culotta, V. P., Levine, E. A., & Rice, E. H. (2021). School success for kids with emotional and behavioral disorders. Oxfordshire: Routledge.
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Crais, E., McComish, C. S., Kertcher, E. F., Hooper, S., Pretzel, R., Mendez, L., & Villalobos, M. (2020). Autism spectrum disorder identification, diagnosis, and navigation of services: Learning from the voices of caregivers. Focus on autism and other developmental disabilities, 35(4), 246-256.
Prelock, P. A. (2021). Autism spectrum disorders. The Handbook of Language and Speech Disorders, 129-151.
Iseman, J. S., Silverman, S. M., & Jeweler, S. (2021). 101 school success tools for students with ADHD. Oxfordshire: Routledge.
Podsiadlik, A. (2021). The blended learning experiences of students with specific learning difficulties: a qualitative case study located in one British higher education institution. International Journal of Disability, Development, and Education, 1-16.
Kelly, K. (2020). Identifying, Assessing, and Supporting Learners with Dyscalculia. SAGE.
Farrell, M. (2021). Supporting Disorders of Learning and Co-ordination: Effective Provision for Dyslexia, Dysgraphia, Dyscalculia, and Dyspraxia. Oxfordshire: Routledge.
Gubbins, E. J., Siegle, D., Ottone-Cross, K., McCoach, D. B., Langley, S. D., Callahan, C. M.,… & Caughey, M. (2021). Identifying and serving gifted and talented students: Are identification and services connected?. Gifted Child Quarterly, 65(2), 115-131.
VanTassel-Baska, J., & Baska, A. (2021). Curriculum planning & instructional design for gifted learners. Routledge.