Methods Used in Teaching and Assessing Children with SEN

The law of education provides for the right to education, at all levels and all forms, regardless of gender, nationality, religion or political affiliation and regardless of social or economic status for all citizens of Romania. Modern pedagogy has changed the general perspective on the school and its function and its ends, with children being more valued, education being student-centred. Special education is a component part of the Romanian education system and offers all educational programs suited to their development needs.

In our country, children with special educational needs (S.E.N.) are enrolled in special education or mainstream education. Children with medium impairments, learning difficulties and language disorders, socio-affective or behavioural disorders can be integrated into mainstream schools. These children need support for adaptation, integration, socialization, so as not to be marginalized or excluded.

Children with special educational requirements, integrated into mainstream schools need a support teacher/ itinerant, psychologist, school counsellors, doctors. Working groups can be between 3-7 children, coordinated by a support teacher who maintains a close connection with the teachers in the classroom, with the class leaders and even with the parents of the children. The support teacher, together with the school psychologist and the teachers who teach in the classroom, composes the personalized intervention program, according to the child’s preferences and difficulties, specifies the ways of working for certain chapters, lessons, proposes ways of working on certain learning sequences in which children have difficulties, seek to develop children’s motivation for learning.

The methodological guide is a working tool for this teacher, which details the content of the curriculum, which he adapts according to his needs. The general curriculum is simplified so that it can be run by students with S.E.N., and the teaching strategies used to integrate these children are also modified. The teacher must know and use teaching strategies that identify and support solving learning difficulties in the classroom, but also involve the student in the learning process, thus aiming to develop thinking and stimulate creativity and interest in learning. It is not possible to work differently with students if the teacher does not know the children very well, both in terms of their physical and mental development.

In the design of educational activities, active group methods stimulate and greatly develop learning through cooperation, facilitate communication, collaboration and networking between students, decision-making, personal autonomy, formation of opinions and correct understanding of reality. The application of active participatory methods leads to more active learning and with obvious results, preparing children to be able to make decisions in solving unusual situations.

Among the active-participatory methods that are used successfully in teaching – learning and evaluation of school notions in different disciplines can be remembered: the didactic game, the mosaic method, the KWL method „I know – I want to know – I learned”, the scheduled training, the Starbursting method and others.

Teaching is a method of placing students in a playful activity of a instructional character. Learning that involves the game becomes enjoyable and appealing, is done in an atmosphere of good mood and relaxation. Regardless of its type, the didactic game must meet certain requirements:

  • Have specified pedagogical objectives;
  • Be rationally integrated into the system of educational work ;
  • Dose the degree of difficulty involved (depending on the age and intellectual peculiarities of the children);
  • Be dosed qualitatively.

Playful activities with instructive valences can be extremely varied. They must be used to energize the teaching-learning activity and can be combined with other methods, depending on the intellectual and age characteristics of the students and the type of lesson.

The KWL method – Know, Want to Know, learn – I know – I want to know – I  learned – is a method that activates students and makes them aware of the learning process and gives students the opportunity to check their knowledge level. This exercise encourages the participation of each student by raising awareness of possible deficiencies and by motivating their coverage, stimulating attention and thinking. Steps of the method:

1. Announcement of the theme by the teacher.
2. Students are asked to inventory the ideas they think they have on the subject to come. These ideas will be noted in the „I know” section of the table.
3. They will note the ideas about which they have doubts or what they would like to know about the topic. These ideas are noted in the „I want to know” section.
4. The teacher will then propose to study a text and fix some knowledge, and the newly assimilated ideas write them down in the section „I learned”.
5. After solving the task, the students will use the notions written in each column to demonstrate the current level of knowledge.

Scheduled training is carried out using the computer, through lessons, interactive tests and educational software. Educational software must be compatible with the playful needs and preferences of children with S.E.N. and be student-centred.

Starbursting method (Eng. „star” = star; Engl. „burst” = to explode), is a new method of developing creativity. The purpose of the method is to get as many questions and thus as many connections between concepts. It’s a way of stimulating individual and group creativity. Organized as a group, the Star bursting method facilitates the participation of the entire collective, stimulates the creation of questions to questions.

The way to proceed is simple. Write the problem whose solution must be „discovered” on a sheet, then string as many questions as possible that relate to it. A good starting point is those of the type: What? ,When?, How?, Why?- some questions leading to increasingly complex ones that require increasing concentration.

Active-participatory methods constitute not only the student’s education but also his socialization, leading to a more active learning with positive results.

The process of integrating children with S.E.N. into mainstream education can be facilitated by the teacher’s use of teaching strategies to develop the student’s skills, aptitudes and abilities to change his behaviour.

For inclusive education to be successful, it is extremely important that teachers, principals and other education stakeholders maintain a positive attitude towards inclusion. They must be firmly convinced of the benefits that inclusive practices bring to all children. Even if inclusive education is mandated by law, it will never succeed without the enthusiastic support of its practitioners. Getting such support involves behaviour and attitudinal change that is not a quick or easy process. Examples of tasks and strategies such as:

  • Organizing training workshops for educators and key community members on general inclusive education techniques, especially those that highlight how these techniques can benefit all children by improving the overall quality of teaching;
  • Integrating awareness of inclusive education into regular school professional development activities;
  • Integrating knowledge about the benefits of inclusive education into initial training programmes for student professors from colleges and universities;
  • Performing mass information activities and materials that emphasize the value of inclusive education;
  • Raising awareness of the many benefits of inclusive education through the interaction of educators and key community members with people with disabilities. Inviting members of existing disability organisations to discuss issues with teachers is also a good way to change attitudes and provide knowledge. People with disabilities should also be encouraged and helped to become trained teachers.

 

prof. Niculina Stoleru

Profil iTeach: iteach.ro/profesor/niculina.stoleru

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