Wednesday, October 31, 2012


In my field experience I have noticed an equity issue with ability level.  It has become very apparent to me as the weeks have gone by which students are above level, at level and below level.  One day the teacher had me take two students who needed extra time working on their math worksheet.  These two children were very far behind in comparison to the other kids.  They were really struggling with addition and I realized how far behind they were compared to the kids who had already finished the work sheet.  After school I talked to Mrs. Whaley (teacher) and told her how surprised I was that they were struggling so much.  She agreed and said they were two of the kids who were two of her lowest level kids.  The next week it became apparent to me that the way she grouped their desks was by ability level or academic level.  There are two groups of desks in the classroom with kids who are above level.  They are the kids that always finish first and are ahead when working on group activities.  Then there are two groups of desks that are normal academic level and two groups of desks with children farther behind.  I found it shocking as to why she would group them together by ability level.  I would think putting a mixture at each group would work better for the kids that are farther behind because they were be pushed and helped by kids ahead of them.  I believe the issue of equity in ability level can impact the motivation of students.  These students in groups that struggled had to be taken out of class and helped.  They might feel embarrassed or “slow”.  This might not only hurt their confidence and self-esteem but also cause the students to feel less motivated.  By putting the slower students in groups with higher level students may not only help them when they have questions but motivate them to work harder. 
Gay believes “the academic achievement of ethnically diverse children will improve when they are taught through their own culture and experiential filters”.  Basically teachers need to educate themselves on different cultures so they can better teach students of different ethnic backgrounds and include different cultures into the classroom.  Delpit suggests that as teachers we allow ourselves to be open and really listen to other perspectives because people of other cultures are “experts” in their culture and know what they are talking about.   By doing this, it will allow us to better speak across cultures to our students of different backgrounds. 
Gay proposes that one way to design culturally relevant curriculum is by designing bulletin boards to promote symbolic curriculum that talk about different ethnic groups and positive characteristics.  For example, doing a bulletin board on leadership and include different ethnic groups.  Then Gay also talks about societal curriculum and kind of changing the mental stereotypes that students believe because of the mass media they are exposed to. 


  1. It is interesting that your teacher separates (in a sense) her class by ability. My teacher does the opposite. She has 5 small tables in her classroom with groups of 3-4 students at each table. She has obviously spent a lot of time working on the seating chart because there are at least one student of each "level" at the table. She also puts students who are more shy and scared to talked with the students who are patient and more out spoken. It is interesting how differently our field teachers have grouped there students. I agree with you that it seems to be better to group students with different levels instead of all students on the same level being together. You have put Gay and Delpit's words into your own and explained them well. Besides what Gay and Delpit stated about helping to change equity in the classroom what are some other areas that teachers need to be aware of that would help them breach the big gaps that we see in the classroom?

  2. I think that one more crucial point that can be made at the end of your post is that Gay talks about with introducing culture into the classroom the kids will feel more comfortable at sharing their cultures in the classroom setting. This will lead to better conversations and it will help them feel more at home when they are at school. My teacher did a similar thing to you in the class, but not with seating. The only equity thing I noticed was that when we split into reading groups, he led the group with the students who werent as far along. Also, my teacher would give pop quizzes over material, not for a grade, to assess where every student was at. He did this to see which ones were getting it and which ones needed some more 1 on 1 attention. I really did learn a lot from my teacher. I am conflicted with the desk idea. I think it would be good to mix ability levels in the desks, but it may also make the students who arent as far along feel uncomfortable when their peers understand everything before they do. It could also lead them to just piggyback off classmates work instead of learning the material for themselves. If you had a class now, how would you approach this topic?

  3. I agree with Rachel that it is very interesting how she separates her students by ability. It makes me wonder if she did this on purpose or by accident. I know students sometime flock to others at their own level and maybe she has them seated by friends? I loved your mention of putting up bulletin boards that include different ethnicities on them. You could also put boards up of strong women leaders and some men too. I think it is important to share important woman roles of all ethnicities as well! Another activity that Delpit and Gay would approve of is doing a month-long time of just reading books about other cultures. Devoting an entire month will get kids interested and make them want to continuing the research!


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