Week 6 Reflection: Supporting All Our Learners

Shelley Moore

This past week we had the opportunity to listen to Shelley Moore’s TED Talk, and her story about Daniel.

The message of the video emphasizes the importance of presuming competence within our students. We need to trust that our students are competent learners and that they can learn. The student that Shelley was sharing about in her TED talk was able to communicate by using the dictionary’s page numbers to show math competence by flipping through the dictionary to answer math flashcards.  As educators, we need to avoid the language and thoughts that a student is “Way too disabled” to learn.  That it is our job to find what works for the student and how they can demonstrate their learning.  As educators, it requires that we listen, and pay attention to our students. If not we become ignorant and too assuming if we believe that students cannot showcase their learning, we must get creative.

This was not the first time that I have been introduced to the knowledge of Shelley Moore.  A colleague sent me the video above a couple months ago, and I believe it tied in nicely to our conversation on lesson planning last week. “Dr. Baked Potato: How Can We Scaffold Complexity” highlights the importance of scaffolding and Universal Design for Learning and how to efficiently utilize our support teams for our students.  I have linked the Baked Potato Planning Pyramid that Shelley uses. She discusses the importance of the following goals. 

  1. Get to know the students and identify what supports they need to meet the goal.  This needs to be established before the lesson takes place.
  2. Make sure that all the students understand the most important part of the goal.  This needs to be tied to the concept of the lesson and not the activity of the lesson.
  3. Teach the different challenge options to ALL the students. This is called scaffolding complexity.
  4. Let ALL the students choose their level of challenge about how they meet the goal.

If we design our lessons this way we focus on what the students can complete rather than what they cannot complete.  This student-centered approach will allow students to take control of their own learning. 

Decolonizing Possibilities in Special Education

In Yee and Butler’s article, Decolonizing Possibilities in Special Education Services I thought that the research question of how to (re)imagine special education and inclusive education practices to address the needs of Indigenous students tied in with the Shelley Moore video and with culturally responsive pedagogy.  This article highlighted four themes to better support ALL our students.  

  1. Critical self-examination
  2. Holistic assessment measures
  3. The use of decolonizing teaching approaches,
  4. Decolonizing special education delivery service models.

Looking at themes three and four, the article highlights that using a strength-based approach and building relationships provides successful opportunities for our students. By building off student interests provides allows students to engage in learning that is relevant to themselves. Universal Design for Learning or a model such as Shelley Moore’s Baked Potato Planning Pyramid provides students autonomy and allows students to oversee their own learning. Furthermore, the article highlights the significance of relationships as a way to decolonize special education delivery service models.  Relationships with the community, schools, families, and agencies work to support all students. I believe that these relationships honour the different ways of knowing that Indigenous communities bring and work in partnership with western ideologies. Through a combination of mutual respect and relationships can we begin to honour to goals and successes of Indigenous students and all our students.

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