The contrasts between students learning abilities became particularly evident this week as we focused on reading and comprehension skills. Firstly, I began the class assisting with reading groups. I noticed here that the books were categorized into levels of difficulty and my supervisor explained how the books reflected the reading level of the students. I was surprised to see that we had some students at a kindergarten reading levels, while others had advanced to a Year 3 reading level. In every reading group that I assisted, it was clear that there were students that were further ahead than others. For these students, having to wait while their classmates caught up often caused impatience and defiance. The brightest students were becoming the most disruptive. The reading groups were supposed to encourage peer support, however, students who struggled with certain words were often given the answers by those who were eager to move onwards. I could see that this task was unsuccessful in engaging all students, and I was concerned that I didn’t accurately measure learning with students who were already behind unknowingly falling further backward.
The second task involved reflecting and analysing the Ken Done influenced artworks they created last week. Here I created a number of questions which could assess a range of abilities, I worded my question according to the outcomes required in the Year 2 syllabus. This included: What are three words you would use to describe your drawing? What are three main colours you have used? What shapes you have used? What are the special features of your artwork? To aid the student’s responses I stood at the whiteboard and wrote out words that students had difficulty spelling. The board quickly filled up with words. I began to circle the room and quickly realised that many of the students had a hard time answering the questions. Nearing the end of the task I noticed one student with learning difficulties had not written a single word. I read the questions out loud, then reworded them into a more casual question and I noticed he had given me some successful answers verbally. I asked him why he hadn’t written his answer down and he told me he didn’t know how to spell it. I pointed to this word which had been put up on the board, but as soon as I moved away from it, he was unable to filter out the other words around it. For this student, removing other stimulus and focusing his attention on one thing at a time allowed him to accurately recall information. This task made me question how we measure successful learning, that all students have individual learner requirements, and allowed me to understand how easy it was for a student to quietly fall behind.