We Make Special Scaffolding for 504/IEP students, But Why Don't they Access Them? Note taking is the surprising key!
How do we associate the practice of notetaking with getting good grades? As teachers, we know there is a clear correlation, but do the students? How do we make the relationship between scaffolding and assessment more explicit with students?
We decided that the students who needed this connection the most were students who had IEP’s and 504’s, but that whatever practice we chose, we could then apply that strategy to all students. This particular audience often has a hard time with short and long term memory as well as organizing or retrieving information taught from the front of the class.
How do we help students to access scaffolds,so they can own their own learning, instead of being “done to” by the teacher or being swept away by a lesson that is going too fast or is too complicated? A logical place to start for us was in teaching those students how to take notes in class in their own words, so they could access information according to their own needs.
In Spanish class I started by asking students to write instructions on the assignment so when they were completing the assignment they knew what to do. Now, that they write the instructions on their own words I see that it is easier for them to complete their work.
In Digital Design Class we often learn about procedures that get a certain result. Push this button and make this thing happen on the screen. Special needs students often would get lost in the long line of procedural thinking, either going too slow and getting lost, skipping steps or forgetting what steps needed to happen to achieve a certain result.
I decided to use the new Note taking feature in Echo, our Learning Management System. I taught a lesson in photoshop, but instead of having students simply watch me, or follow along with me, I instead had them write out each step in their notes in echo. I paused after each step shown and asked them to then write in their own words, what I just did on the board. I then had them take a survey about how that process went for them. I also made observational notes about how the special needs students were doing, as well as how other students in the class were accessing their notes.
What it was like in the classroom before implementing the strategy
Before implementing this I used to explained to students what was expected from them in that class period. I offered help and clarify instructions when ever they asked me. Some of the students used to take photos of the examples written on the board.
Before implementing this strategy, I often created scaffolding in the form of video tutorials, written notes and slide shows that offered step by step instructions. Students often did NOT access my scaffolding. What I hoped is that because the notes were in the students own words, AND they had been the creators of the notes, that they would go back and access the information.
After implementing this: now I see that students take notes without asking them to do it. Also I noticed that special needs students are completing their assignments on time without asking for extra time or reduction of the assignment.
Many of my special needs students, after taking notes, seemed more willing to go back and access the information in ways they simply would not, if the notes were provided by me. I also noticed that students with special needs were better able to follow the lesson, because we slowed it down, so that everyone in the class could take notes together. I often repeated steps several times before moving on to the next step. Special needs students seems to stay more engaged throughout the whole lesson, following along from beginning to end.
The overall confidence level in the room went up. There were still more detailed instructions and scaffolds created by me in echo, if students wanted to skip ahead, or they wanted a different form of support. But the notetaking seemed to be a great foundational option that got ALL students looking toward echo for answers to their questions.
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Lisa Gottfried is a CTE teacher with 20 years experience as CEO of her own Video and Motion Graphics Production house. She currently teaches Intro to Digital Media, Video Production and Game/3D Design. She loves her job and her students!