What Every Teacher Should Know About Diverse Learners

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Donna Walker Tileston

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  • Other Corwin Books by Donna Walker Tileston

    Closing the Poverty and Culture Gap: Strategies to Reach Every Student, 2009

    Teaching Strategies That Prepare Students for High-Stakes Tests, 2008

    Teaching Strategies for Active Learning: Five Essentials for Your Teaching Plan, 2007

    What Every Parent Should Know About Schools, Standards, and High Stakes Tests, 2006

    Ten Best Teaching Practices: How Brain Research, Learning Styles, and Standards Define Teaching Competencies, Second Edition, 2005

    Training Manual for What Every Teacher Should Know, 2005

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Learning, Memory, and the Brain, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Diverse Learners, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Instructional Planning, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Effective Teaching Strategies, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Classroom Management and Discipline, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Student Assessment, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Special Learners, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About Media and Technology, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know About the Profession and Politics of Teaching, 2004

    What Every Teacher Should Know: The 10 Book Collection, 2004

    Strategies for Teaching Differently: On the Block or Not, 1998

    Copyright

    View Copyright Page

    Acknowledgments

    Thanks to my editor extraordinaire, Carol Collins, for her patience and her belief in my work.

    About the Author

    Donna Walker Tileston, EdD, is a veteran teacher and the president of Strategic Teaching and Learning, a consulting firm that provides services to schools throughout the world. Also a prolific author, Donna's publications include Ten Best Teaching Practices: How Brain Research, Learning Styles, and Standards Define Teaching Competencies, Second Edition (Corwin, 2005); Strategies for Teaching Differently: On the Block or Not (Corwin, 1998); and Closing the Poverty and Culture Gap: Strategies to Reach Every Student (Corwin, 2009). This series, What Every Teacher Should Know, won the prestigious AEP award in 2005.

    Donna received her BA from the University of North Texas, her MA from East Texas State University, and her EdD from Texas A&M University Commerce. She may be reached at http://www.whateveryteachershouldknow.com.

    Introduction

    The Supreme Court's 1954 decision in Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, made equal access to public education the law of the land. With each decade we have increased the proportion of the U.S. population in school, including children from more diverse socioculture and economic backgrounds, and diversified the kinds of educational programs offered. But these accomplishments have fallen far short of the vision of a universal school system that provides all children with equal access to success in school.

    —M. C. Wang and J. A. Kovach

    Since the first edition of this book in 2004, so much has happened in this country in regard to understanding culture and poverty. This book contains about 60% new information about what we must do in this century to lift children out of poverty and build a strong middle class. I know of no country in the world without a middle class that is a strong democracy. As the faces of the children rapidly change to reflect the exponential changes in our demographics, education struggles to understand the learning differences and the changes that must be put into place.

    As the economy, resources, and affluence of the city have moved to the suburbs, we have been left with many large cities whose inner-city area is a myriad of crumbling buildings, graffiti, and the poor who cannot afford to leave. In the mountains, along our borders, and in the towns and counties that make up our country we find children who are poor and who often are hungry. Add to that a struggling economy and the lack of resources available, and we have an educational system that, despite its best efforts, cannot provide equal access to success. Teachers are leaving the field in droves either to enter a different field or to follow the resources to the newer suburbs of the city. Why not? Our society measures the success of schools and its personnel on test scores—often single test scores. Even when the measurement includes other factors, such as dropout rates, attendance rates, and the percentage of students taking advanced courses, the complex problems of teaching a diverse population of students from ethnic and language minority backgrounds remain a factor usually not considered. Studies by Education Trust show that working in high poverty areas will often gain teachers less money, poorer conditions, and instability (2008). Why, then, would educators choose to teach in these areas?

    Throughout this book, we will examine how we got to this place and look at some of the best research available for helping to narrow and eventually close the achievement gap for minority students. While many of the solutions for schools are a matter of combining resources from state and local communities, including health and dental care, family assistance, and the collaboration of community leaders in the decision making process, this book focuses on what the classroom teacher can do to help ensure that these students learn—and learn at a high level. I have also focused on how to empower teachers so that they have the information and resources to be able to make a difference.

    Brain research has afforded us insights into new ways to reach these students. We now know, for instance, that students from poverty tend to learn better when visual and kinesthetic approaches are used than they do when a traditional curriculum based on verbal teaching is employed (Payne, 2001). English language learners may not have the language acquisition skills necessary for processing a great deal of data in a verbal format.

    By incorporating visual tools into the curriculum and by providing a variety of teaching strategies, we can reach these students at a level never before possible.

    The Vocabulary Summary of this book contains terms often used in conjunction with working with urban learners. Form 0.1 provides a list of the vocabulary words for this book. In the space provided, write your definition of the word at this time. After you have read this book, go back to your original answers to see if you have changed your mind about your definitions.

    In addition, I am providing a pretest to help you identify your own knowledge of the vocabulary that will be used in this volume. At the end of the book are a posttest and the answers to the test for your self-assessment.

    Form 0.1 Vocabulary List for Diverse Learners

    Copyright © 2010 by Corwin. All rights reserved. Reprinted from What Every Teacher Should Know About Diverse Learners, Second Edition, by Donna Walker Tileston. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin, http://www.corwin.com. Reproduction authorized only for the local school site or nonprofit organization that has purchased this book.

    Vocabulary Pretest

    Instructions: For each question given, choose the best answer or answers. More than one answer may be correct. The answer key appears on page 89.

    • The belief that one culture is superior to other groups is called …
      • The melting-pot theory
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Exceptionality
      • Diversity
    • Diane Madden is a teacher at East Middle School where she teaches eighth-grade English. Ms. Madden talked with teachers from the seventh grade prior to the beginning of school and asked them to give her their opinions about the students she will be teaching this year. Several of the teachers said that she shouldn't even try to teach “those” students the classics because they will not understand them. This advice is what type of bias?
      • Linguistic
      • Exclusion
      • Persuasive
      • Stereotyping
    • Students who come from poverty are usually not …
      • Kinesthetic learners
      • Visual learners
      • Auditory learners
      • Declarative learners
    • Students who believe that they just have bad luck in school may be suffering from poor …
      • Diversity
      • Locus of control
      • Self-efficacy
      • Self-esteem
    • Students who believe that they can succeed because they have succeeded in the past are practicing …
      • The auditory modality
      • Locus of control
      • Self-efficacy
      • Extrinsic motivation
    • Teachers who tell students that they will get candy for good work are using …
      • Locus of control
      • Intrinsic motivation
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Extrinsic motivation
    • Which of the following is not true of response to intervention?
      • It is a part of the 2004 amendments to ESEA.
      • It is the responsibility of regular education teachers as well as special education.
      • It allows students to be placed in special education if the learning difficulty is caused by poverty.
      • It requires interventions before a student shows failure.
    • Students who have lived in situations of great stress over time often experience …
      • Imaginary audience
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Exceptionality
      • Learned helplessness
    • Teachers who teach in a variety of formats so that they teach to all races and ethnicities are practicing …
      • Contextualization
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Pluralism
      • Indirect teaching
    • English language learners (ELLs) …
      • Are considered to have low socioeconomic status
      • Speak a language other than English as their primary language
      • Are often shy in class
      • Have low intrinsic motivation to learn
    • Raul is in Mr. Vasquez's math class at Moors Middle School. Raul is struggling because he cannot grasp some of the math concepts being taught. Mr. Vasquez has added graphic organizers to help students like Raul learn more successfully. Raul is probably what kind of learner?
      • Kinesthetic
      • Visual
      • Auditory
      • Dual skill
    • Which of the following are used to determine at-risk students?
      • Low socioeconomic status
      • ELL status
      • Previous failure
      • Ethnicity
    • Marty came to school on Friday with red streaks in his hair (just like his two best friends). Marty is exhibiting …
      • Personal fable
      • Self-efficacy
      • Imaginary audience
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
    • When students become what we expect them to become, it is called …
      • An imaginary audience
      • A self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Self-efficacy
      • Personal fable
    • Most students in the classroom are which type of learners?
      • Auditory
      • Visual
      • Kinesthetic
      • Intrinsic
    • Diversity means …
      • Differences
      • Ethnicity
      • Exceptionality
      • Bias
    • The belief that people moving to this country should become like us is called …
      • Exceptionality
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Multicultural
      • The melting-pot theory
    • Intrinsic motivation is triggered by …
      • Relevance
      • Stickers
      • Emotions
      • Relationships
    • Kelvin Waters has difficulty completing tasks once he begins. Research on which topic would be most helpful for him?
      • The metacognitive system
      • The self-system
      • The cognitive system
      • The procedural system
    • Which of the following is part of classroom climate?
      • The lighting in the room
      • The amount of tension in the room
      • The way the room smells
      • The socioeconomic status of the students

    Dedication

    To my brother Mark Walker, with whom I am working to make life better for children, not just in education but in the medical field, in the community, and in better early childhood programs within the inner city.

    To all the wonderful children at the Open Door Preschool in Dallas, Texas.

  • Vocabulary Summary

    Bias

    Bias is belief that something or someone is inferior or superior based on a set of criteria.

    Classroom Climate

    Classroom climate refers to two major areas within the classroom:

    • The physical makeup of the classroom, such as lighting, color of the room, smell of the room, seating arrangement, visuals, and temperature.
    • The emotional mood of the classroom, such as how students feel about the learning, the teacher, the other members of the classroom, and the positive as well as negative emotions within the class.
    Direct Instruction

    Direct instruction is instructional delivery primarily from the teacher that encourages a high level of learner engagement and requires structured, accomplishable tasks.

    Under direct instruction, the teacher might follow these steps:

    • Introduce the topic and the vocabulary necessary to understand the topic
    • Model, demonstrate, or discuss the information
    • Provide opportunities for students to practice the learning in a very structured environment with the teacher providing feedback
    • Provide opportunities for students to work independently using the new information
    Diversity

    Diversity refers to the ways in which we differ from each other, including gender, age, ethnicity, culture, religion, exceptionality, and socioeconomic status.

    Dual Culture

    Students from fringe cultures have to adapt to their true culture and obey the rules of the dominant culture in order to be successful in the classroom and workplace. This often brings about added conflicts.

    English Language Learners

    English language learners are students whose primary language is something other than English and who have a limited knowledge of the English language. Because students who do not know the words cannot activate the semantic memory system (which stores words), it is important that teachers activate other memory systems by using visuals and movement. We also include in this category those students who speak the language of the streets, a dialect or who speak Ebonics as a primary language with peers.

    Ethnic Identity

    Ethnic identity refers to our identity in a group in which we have a common culture based on language, history, geography, and often physical characteristics.

    Ethnocentrism

    Ethnocentrism is the belief that one's own ethnicity is superior to others.

    Exceptionality

    The term exceptionality refers to the characteristics that make us different, such as handicapping conditions or giftedness.

    Hidden Rules of Society

    According to Payne (2001), every social class has hidden rules that are only known to that class. For example, for children from poverty, the most important possession is people: for the middle class, it is things, and for the wealthy it is one-of-a-kind objects, legacies, or pedigrees. Money for those in poverty is to be spent; for the middle class, it is to be managed; and for those from wealth, it is to be invested. Where one went to school distinguishes the social rich from the merely rich and those below. In terms of time, those in poverty live for the moment, the middle class look to the future, and the wealthy believe in traditions and history. It is interesting to note that each class believes that everyone knows their hidden rules, but the truth is that we tend to know the rules of our group only.

    Instructional Casualties

    Instructional casualties is a term that is associated with legislation in Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 2004, which calls into question why so many minorities and students from poverty are placed in special education. The question is often whether they were correctly placed or if their struggles in school are due to a system that does not take into account how they learn and the hidden bias within tests and curriculum. Add to that instructional personnel who have not been provided with the knowledge and skills to modify for culture and poverty.

    Intrinsic Motivation

    Intrinsic motivation is internal motivation associated with activities that are rewarding in themselves. An example of intrinsic motivation would be a student who reads a book because he or she wants to learn more about the subject or character or because the student loves to read.

    Some researchers believe that the frequent use of rewards in classrooms is a deterrent to intrinsic motivation.

    Learning Environment

    The learning environment comprises the mood, tone, and physical conditions that surround the learning.

    Locus of Control

    According to McCune, Stephens, and Lowe (1999), locus of control refers to the degree to which students feel that events they experience are under their own control (inner control) rather than under the control of other people or forces outside of themselves (external control). Researchers believe that students will be more likely to engage in learning activities when they attribute success or failure to things they can control like their own effort, or lack of it, rather than to forces over which they have little or no control, such as their ability, luck, or outside forces. Teachers should help students, especially at-risk learners, link their successes to something they did to contribute to the success. When this occurs, the students develop self-efficacy and the confidence that they have the power within themselves to be successful.

    Melting-Pot Theory

    The melting-pot theory was the belief popular in the United States for many years that those who come to this country should assimilate and blend into the dominant culture. Most Americans have come to believe that we need to embrace cultural differences rather than try to make everyone like us.

    Minority Group

    A minority group is a racial or ethnic group that has the least number within a society.

    Modality

    Modality is the way in which students take in information. The three common modalities:

    • Visual. Visual students need to see the material, and, in math, they need to see how the math works. Simply telling them the material is not enough. The largest number of students in the classroom are in this group. Could we raise math scores across the country if we could find more ways to show students how math works?
    • Auditory. Auditory students want to hear the new information. They usually like to listen and take notes. The smallest number of students in the classroom is in this group.
    • Kinesthetic. Kinesthetic students need hand-on experiences. They also need movement or you will lose their interest and they may become discipline problems.
    Motivation

    Motivation is the willingness or drive to accomplish something. It may be extrinsic (driven by outside forces, such as the promise of a reward) or intrinsic (driven from within).

    Multicultural Education

    Multicultural education is a process designed to increase awareness and acceptance among people of different cultures.

    Nondiscriminatory Testing

    Nondiscriminatory testing is testing that takes into account a student's cultural and linguistic background.

    Personal Fable

    Personal fable refers to the belief that “my life is different from everyone else's, so no one can understand how I feel or think.” This view of life may result in either a feeling of isolation (usually predicated by a changing body) or a willingness to engage in risky behaviors, such as the belief that “others get pregnant, but it won't happen to me.”

    Residential Segregation

    Residential segregation occurs when the majority race moves to newer and more affluent areas of the cities and towns, leaving the poor in often rundown and less desirable neighborhoods.

    Response to Intervention

    Response to intervention is a process born out of the changes to ESEA in 2004 that call for all teachers and staff to recognize and intervene at the first point of struggling in school. The model follows a model coming from the medical community that says early intervention will correct mild and short-term problems for 85% of the student population, 15% will need additional interventions at a more intense level and 5% will probably need the services of special education programs. Schools create their own models based on the regulations from ESEA 2004 and No Child Left Behind.

    Self-Concept

    Self-concept refers to the way in which an individual sees himself or herself.

    Self-Efficacy

    Self-efficacyis the self-confidence to be successful based on past experiences. It is stronger than self-esteem because it is built on fact rather than “I think and I feel.” According to Dwyer & Cummings (2001), self-efficacy is the belief that you have the power to accomplish a given task and will determine whether a student attempts the task or avoids it. Cummings goes on to say that self-efficacy can be instilled in students when teachers do the following:

    • Teach goal setting
    • Encourage positive self-talk
    • Break long-term projects into small steps
    • Measure the success of each small step
    • Involve students in the self-evaluation of their effort
    • Provide opportunities to be successful without watering down the curriculum
    Self-Esteem

    Self-esteem is the value a person sets on his or her self-worth.

    Self-Fulfilling Prophecy

    A self-fulfilling prophecy occurs when one's biased beliefs about what should occur will influence the results to confirm one's expectations.

    Researchers over time such as Good and Brophy (1966), Marzano (2001), and Williams (2003) provide the following examples of how teachers often treat students based on their perception of them. Teachers may

    • Seat high achievers across from and down the middle of the room
    • Seat low achievers far from the teacher
    • Seat low achievers near each other in a group
    • Give fewer nonverbal cues to low achievers during instruction, such as smile less often or maintain less eye contact
    • Call on high achievers much more frequently than on low achievers
    • Use a longer wait time for responses from high achievers
    • Fail to stay with low achievers when they attempt a response
    • Criticize low achievers more frequently for incorrect responses
    • Praise low achievers more frequently for inadequate public responses
    • Provide low achievers with less frequent and less specific feedback regarding their responses
    • Demand less work and effort from low achievers
    • Interrupt performance of low achievers more frequently
    • Talk negatively about low achievers more frequently
    • Punish off-task behavior of low achievers and more frequently ignore it in high achievers
    Socioeconomic Status

    Socioeconomic status is the relationship of an individual's economic status to social factors, including education, occupation, and place of residence.

    Voices

    According to Payne (2001), we all have three voices that we use throughout our lives: the child voice, the parent voice, and the adult voice.

    The child voice has the following attributes: It is defensive, victimized, emotional, whining, strongly negative, nonverbal, and has a losing attitude. It may also be playful and spontaneous.

    Example: “Quit picking on me.”

    The parent voice tends to be authoritative, directive, judgmental, evaluative, demanding, punitive, sometimes threatening, and has a win-lose attitude. It can also be loving and supportive.

    Example: “You do as I say.”

    The adult voice tends to be nonjudgmental, free of negatives, factual, and often speaks in a question format. It has a win-win attitude.

    Example: “In what ways could this be resolved?”

    Using the parent voice with children from poverty often causes the situation to become more heated. Payne (2001) says to use the adult voice and to begin to teach children from poverty how to use that voice beginning in about the fourth grade. Payne calls the adult voice the “language of negotiation.” It is the voice most used in business and in the school setting, and it should be taught to children from poverty to help them to be successful in those worlds.

    Vocabulary Posttest

    At the beginning of this book, you were given a vocabulary list and a pretest on that vocabulary. Below are the posttest and the answer key for the vocabulary assessment.

    Instructions: For each question given, choose the best answer or answers. More than one answer may be correct.

    • The belief that one culture is superior to other groups is called …
      • The melting-pot theory
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Exceptionality
      • Diversity
    • Diane Madden is a teacher at East Middle School, where she teaches eighth-grade English. Ms. Madden talked with teachers from the seventh grade prior to the beginning of school and asked them to give her their opinion about the students she will be teaching this year. Several of the teachers said that she shouldn't even try to teach “those” students the classics because they will not understand them. This advice is what type of bias?
      • Linguistic
      • Exclusion
      • Persuasive
      • Stereotyping
    • Students who come from poverty are usually not …
      • Kinesthetic learners
      • Visual learners
      • Auditory learners
      • Declarative learners
    • Students who believe that they just have bad luck in school may be suffering from poor …
      • Diversity
      • Locus of control
      • Self-efficacy
      • Self-esteem
    • Students who believe that they can succeed because they have succeeded in the past are practicing …
      • The auditory modality
      • Locus of control
      • Self-efficacy
      • Extrinsic motivation
    • Teachers who tell students that they will get candy for good work are using …
      • Locus of control
      • Intrinsic motivation
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Extrinsic motivation
    • Which of the following is not true of response to intervention?
      • It is a part of the 2004 amendments to Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA)
      • It is the responsibility of regular education teachers as well as special education
      • It allows students to be placed in special education if the learning difficulty is caused by poverty
      • It requires interventions before a student shows failure
    • Students who have lived in situations of great stress over time often experience …
      • Imaginary audience
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Exceptionality
      • Learned helplessness
    • Teachers who teach in a variety of formats so that they teach to all races and ethnicities are practicing …
      • Contextualization
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Pluralism
      • Indirect teaching
    • English language learners (ELLs) …
      • Are considered as having low socioeconomic status
      • Speak a language other than English as their primary language
      • Are often shy in class
      • Have low intrinsic motivation to learn
    • Raul is in Mr. Vasquez's math class at Moors Middle School. Raul is struggling because he cannot grasp some of the math concepts being taught. Mr. Vasquez has added graphic organizers to help students like Raul learn more successfully. Raul is probably what kind of learner?
      • Kinesthetic
      • Visual
      • Auditory
      • Dual skill
    • Which of the following are used to determine at-risk students?
      • Low socioeconomic status
      • ELL status
      • Previous failure
      • Ethnicity
    • Marty came to school on Friday with red streaks in his hair (just like his two best friends). Marty is exhibiting …
      • Personal fable
      • Self-efficacy
      • Imaginary audience
      • Self-fulfilling prophecy
    • When students become what we expect them to become, it is called …
      • An imaginary audience
      • A self-fulfilling prophecy
      • Self-efficacy
      • Personal fable
    • Most students in the classroom are which type of learners?
      • Auditory
      • Visual
      • Kinesthetic
      • Intrinsic
    • Diversity means …
      • Differences
      • Ethnicity
      • Exceptionality
      • Bias
    • The belief that people moving to this country should become like us is called …
      • Exceptionality
      • Ethnocentrism
      • Multicultural
      • The melting-pot theory
    • Intrinsic motivation is triggered by …
      • Relevance
      • Stickers
      • Emotions
      • Relationships
    • Kelvin Waters has difficulty completing tasks once he begins. Research on which topic would be most helpful for him?
      • The metacognitive system
      • The self-system
      • The cognitive system
      • The procedural system
    • Which of the following is part of classroom climate?
      • The lighting in the room
      • The amount of tension in the room
      • The way the room smells
      • The socioeconomic status of the students

    Vocabulary Pretest and Posttest Answer Key

    • B
    • D
    • B, C
    • B, C, D
    • C
    • D
    • C
    • D
    • A, C
    • B, C
    • B
    • A, B, C
    • C
    • B
    • B
    • A
    • D
    • A, C, D
    • A
    • A, B, C

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    Tileston, D. W. (2004a). What every teacher should know about effective teaching strategies. Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.
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    Corwin: A SAGE Company

    The Corwin logo—a raven striding across an open book—represents the union of courage and learning. Corwin is committed to improving education for all learners by publishing books and other professional development resources for those serving the field of PreK-12 education. By providing practical, hands-on materials, Corwin continues to carry out the promise of its motto: “Helping Educators Do Their Work Better.”


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