Summary: Jason, a student with down syndrome was an excellent student throughout his primary year...

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Summary: Jason, a student with down syndrome was an excellent student throughout his primary years as he was able to demonstrate his passion for drama (had a main role in the school play). His teachers worked closely with the schools learning resource teacher who helped keep Jason on task. As he progressed into his junior years, Jason had academic and behaviour issues and was falling behind on schoolwork; which led to frustration and Jason shutting down. As a result, the teacher met with his parents to modify his homework and curriculum. He was still struggling with school until he reached high school where he had more flexibility in his courses and extra-curricular activities. He had an art-based program and was able to meet new friends that were also interested in the arts (and drama in particular). High school also provided Jason with volunteer opportunities in theatre which will act as a great transition for him as he progresses through high school to college/ adulthood. As Jason moves closer to grade 12 his parents and the school are exploring Jason’s options which include continuing school until he is 21 (with it not looking like a continuation of regular school). Regardless of which path Jason takes, he has a great support staff behind him. The main problem observed in the case study was the importance of providing support and having flexibility in instruction to gear to certain students interests. (Bennett, 16) In this Assignment we will connect this case study/situation to course material, and provide the perspective of: the student, parent(s), teacher(s), and principle. Stephan Strauss, Lauren Duguay, Alexis Witt, and Maya Smudja. by Mind Map: Summary: Jason, a student with down syndrome was an excellent student throughout his primary years as he was able to demonstrate his passion for drama (had a main role in the school play). His teachers worked closely with the schools learning resource teacher who helped keep Jason on task. As he progressed into his junior years, Jason had academic and behaviour issues and was falling behind on schoolwork; which led to frustration and Jason shutting down. As a result, the teacher met with his parents to modify his homework and curriculum. He was still struggling with school until he reached high school where he had more flexibility in his courses and extra-curricular activities. He had an art-based program and was able to meet new friends that were also interested in the arts (and drama in particular). High school also provided Jason with volunteer opportunities in theatre which will act as a great transition for him as he progresses through high school to college/ adulthood. As Jason moves closer to grade 12 his parents and the school are exploring Jason’s options which include continuing school until he is 21 (with it not looking like a continuation of regular school). Regardless of which path Jason takes, he has a great support staff behind him. The main problem observed in the case study was the importance of providing support and having flexibility in instruction to gear to certain students interests. (Bennett, 16) In this Assignment we will connect this case study/situation to course material, and provide the perspective of: the student, parent(s), teacher(s), and principle. Stephan Strauss, Lauren Duguay, Alexis Witt, and Maya Smudja.

1. Students Perspective

1.1. It’s hard for me to see all my friends improve academically so much faster than me. I am wondering why I am progressing so much slower than them? It is making me feel excluded. I am beginning to ask myself questions, such as : why am I not good enough? Why do I learn differently than all my friends? Why are they succeeding, but I am not?

1.2. This makes me feel very frustrated in myself. I have lost all motivation to want to work. I don't know how to talk about how I am feeling so I just refuse to work. I wish I felt more engaged and motivated to learn.

1.3. I am glad that I have a teacher that understands my frustrations and wants to help me. I am happy that he takes the time to develop a program for me that is at my level. I hope this will begin to engage me.

1.4. I am glad that my friends are there to push me and motivate me to stay on track. I am glad that they are there to encourage me instead of making fun of me.

1.5. I am happy that he began to modify the curriculum to ensure that I am learning at the level that I am at. It really helps me understand the material better.

1.6. I am very thankful for my teachers who got me out of that stump. I think that if my teachers just ignored my emotions/feelings and just continued on, I would not have been as successful or engaged in my academics. I think I needed that as a reminder to persevere.

1.7. I was very excited to start highschool because I was able to pick courses that I was interested in and excited about. I chose an arts program because that is what I enjoyed.

1.8. Originally, I responded very negatively to all these big changes in my academic career, because I did not understand why these changes were happening. However, as my teachers worked one on one with me to create a work plan, it really changed my perspective on learning. I began to feel motivated and engaged. I am glad that my teacher recognized my love for the arts and was able to create a plan that worked for me and my individual needs.

1.9. In addition to the modified curriculum, it would be important to attempt strategies such as the following: Creating an IEP that is focused on the student learning to live independently Using teaching strategies that are focussed on the students' needs based on their learning style Working one on one with EA The teacher could find ways to incorporate arts/drama into all his courses

2. Connect Issue/Problem to Course Material:

2.1. Developmental Disability: Jason, who has Down Syndrome, would be considered as having a Developmental Disability. Bennett states that children with Down Syndrome usually have a fairly normal early development, with it slowing as they get older. (Bennett, 189) This relates to Jason as early on in his primary grades he was doing well in school and seemed to enjoy it, but as he got into the older grades he started to struggle. According to Woolfolk students with Developmental Disabilities may reach a point where their learning plateaus; which could be said with Jason. (Woolfolk, 144)

2.2. Intellectual Disability: Down Syndrome is also considered an Intellectual Disability according to Bennett and thus explains why Jason struggled with school. (Bennett, 189) More specifically Intellectual/Learning Disabilities affect the acquisition, retention, understanding and organization of verbal or non-verbal information. (Bennett, 147) This can connect back to Jason’s case where he would work at a slower rate than his classmates, becoming frustrated as he fell behind in schoolwork.

2.3. Differentiated Response (DR): As Jason entered high school there was an aspect of DR done by his teachers. This is because a big part of DR according to the "Principles of Differentiated Response" illustration shown during Session 3 is to get to know your students and their interests to help provide differentiated instruction. It was recommended to Jason to take more courses related to the arts and theatre due to his previous teachers knowing his interest.

2.4. Modified IEP: The teacher is able to create a modified IEP that focuses on Jason's particular needs. The teacher makes adjustments to the curriculum expectations that better fit the students needs based on age appropriate grade level. This includes developing expectations that reflect the knowledge and skills required in the curriculum for a different grade level. These students also has access to accomodations (assessment strategies, human supports, and/or individualized equipment.) It is known that students with Down syndrome require activities that are highly structured, with small amounts of information, often requiring a reward system (Down Syndrome Association, 2019.)

2.5. Family and Community Partnership: In certain cases the teacher/school needs to get the family/community involved to help with a students learning. This was the case with Jason as in his intermediate years his teachers made sure his parents worked with him at home to help him catch up on his school work. In High School the school got Jason involved in his community’s theatre. (Woolfolk, 514)

2.6. Transition Planning: The teacher begins to develop a transition plan for Jason. This is included in the IEP, which will focus on the specific goals for the students transition.

2.7. Universal Design for Learning (UDL): The UDL provides access to the curriculum for all students. It is a program that is able to assists educators in designing products and environments to make them accessible to everyone, regardless of age, skills, situation, etc.

2.8. OCT Standards of Practice: The fact that the school modified Jason's curriculum expectations and set up a system with his parents to help Jason catch up on his schoolwork shows a commitment to his learning. Meeting with Jason's parents directly also shows professionalism on the part of the teacher.

3. Teacher(s) Perspective

3.1. Significance of problem: This issue is very important to me as Jason's teacher because as a teacher I want every student to succeed, I want them to work to the best of their ability. I realize that not every student will receive honours due to the fact that every student is different, but as a teacher I feel it is my responsibility to have students enjoy school and demonstrate an understanding of required content for that Grade level. In the case of Jason he was not enjoying school; nor was doing well in it either. So as a teacher it is important for me to get to know Jason in order to understand why this is. By doing this I will learn about his interests and use that to help make his school experience more enjoyable.

3.2. How I am feeling: As Jason's teacher I feel sad, concerned, and frustrated seeing Jason struggle in the Junior/Intermediate grades due to knowing that Jason is a bright student when given the right opportunity to demonstrate his love for drama in a school setting. I am hopeful that Jason will have a smooth transition to high school; where he will be able to show his passion for drama.

3.3. How I will Respond: As a teacher it is important to always be positive around students; and this applies especially with Jason who needs his teachers (me) to be positive and patient with him; so that when he is struggling with schoolwork he does get as frustrated.

3.4. Strategies Moving Forward: I could as one of Jason’s teachers encourage him to join a school drama club during his junior and intermediate years (if possible), or talk to his parents to maybe get him to join one outside of school. Jason’s best academic years were when he was highly involved in drama (high school, primary grades) and thus if that would have continued into his junior years then maybe Jason’s experience would have been more positive.

3.5. Strategies Moving Forward: I could provide even more differentiated instruction before Jason reaches high school that is more geared towards his interests (for instance I could provide math or language questions that involve drama). This should make schoolwork more fun for Jason; which would hopefully lead to less frustration and more engagement from him.

3.6. Strategies Moving Forward: As for which post high school option is best for Jason; as a teacher I would suggest that Jason continues to be involved in his local theatre and maybe get him to join the school’s co-op program where he can work with someone at the theatre as part of his schooling. I would push for this option rather than having Jason do 2 to 3 extra years of schooling. This is due to me feeling that it would be more beneficial to have Jason be involved in a volunteer program after graduation because having him do extra schooling would separate him from his new group of friends. This could have serious implications; such as him feeling that he is different and thus excluded. It is important for me to work with the principle, parents and student to come up with the best option that will meet Jason's learning needs; as at the end of the day it is Jason and his parent's decision.

4. Parental Perspective

4.1. Significance of problem: We want our child to succeed and have the support and life skills to bring with him into his adult life. Though the school has expressed to us that they will provide Jason with a program equipped with job coaches to help him become an active member of the working community, we fear the loss of his current friends will negatively affect Jason. Considering his Junior years when his behaviour and academic performance struggled when he wasn’t able to keep up with his friends, we fear a similar reaction will happen when Jason loses his “Drama Crew” as they graduate high school. Jason is still in grade 11 and has over a year to spend time with the friends he holds so dearly, we just hope he can continue his current routines once they leave.

4.2. How we are feeling: Though we are thankful for the continuous support and attention from his teachers, we are worried for Jason to lose all his friends. Jason values drama, and has demonstrated a deep passion surrounding his drama friends and courses. He speaks so highly of his “drama crew” which we fear will negatively affect him when they graduate without Jason. Though he is still thriving in grade 11 and his teachers have provided a transition program for Jason that he is excited for and already participating in, we fear that when the time comes to say goodbye to his crew his emotional stress will affect him.

4.3. How we will Respond: As Jason’s parents, we will always continue to show Jason our support and love. We know how much he loves his friends so we will continue to encourage his social life and drama passion. We will do our best to ensure he is able to stay in contact with his “drama crew” after their high school career.

4.4. Strategies Moving Forward: We hope that Jason’s teachers continue to support and can understand his love for his friends. Considering they will all be leaving in about a years time, perhaps they can consider organizing strategies to help Jason meet students who won’t be graduating next year. We appreciate their strategy to provide Jason with a transition program that has already allowed him to volunteer at a local arts centre and hope they can continue to support Jason and his life’s dreams.

5. References: 1. Anita Woolfolk, Philip Winne, Nancy Perry (2019). Educational Psychology. 7th Canadian Edition. Pearson. North York. 2. Shelia Bennett, Don Dworet, Tiffany Gallagher, Monique Somma (2019). Special Education in Ontario Schools. 8th Edition. Highland Press. St. Davids.

6. Principal's Perspective

6.1. Significance: As Jason's Principal, I would want a member of our student body to feel they are supported in the best way possible. Meaning, I want Jason's short term goals, as well as long term goals, to be met effectively. Currently, Jason does not want to feel left behind by his friends, and nor does he wish to fall behind academically going forward. It is my responsibility as Jason's Principal, to keep an open line of communication with his parents and Jason's Teachers or Educational Assistants so this does not happen. It is important Jason feels as though he is a significant member of the school community.

6.2. How I am Feeling: Overall, I am feeling confident that Jason will receive the guidance and reassurance he needs. I receive weekly updates from his teachers and other staff members during meetings. It was brought to my attention that one of Jason's teachers are feeling sad for Jason's situation. The teacher in question is worried they will not be able to provide enough support or give the right amount of attention to Jason during lessons. I have made a note of this, and I feel that this teacher's concerns will be dealt with in a professional and supportive manner. Finally, these updates help me remain in the loop, and I have references for Jason's improvement or challenges he may still be facing. These references will be shared periodically with Jason's parents. Knowing I have a strong relationship with all educational staff and Jason's parents, I feel secure that Jason will overcome any insecurities in school and personal life.

6.3. How Will I Respond: I will keep myself available for support if any members of faculty need guidance to help Jason. As well, I will be present to assist and address any concerns that Jason's parents might have. It is significant to ensure Jason's transition into post-secondary life progresses smoothly.

6.4. Strategies Going Forward: I have approved Jason's Educational Modifications that his teacher's have incorporated into their lesson planning. I have approved this in conjunction to his academic history. It is important to ensure these modifications are kept in check, so that Jason can feel successful in his learning. Moreover, I will check in with Jason when possible, so I can gauge his emotional well-being. It is important to ensure he is well rounded in all aspects of his life. Furthermore, I will ensure there is an equity among him and other students. Jason is just like any other teenager, and should be treated as such. I will encourage Jason to continue being apart of the Theater program at school, and at his part- time employment with the community Theater Company. During discussions with him and his Jason's family, I will comfort him by informing Jason that it's okay to feel overwhelmed and to be approached by obstacles. I would add that getting support now and again does not mean he is incapable. I will state that he is absolutely capable of achieving his goals, and that it's alright to go at your own pace! The guidance he will be getting is to define his capabilities, and to let him know he is not different from his friends. Although it's frustrating and scary, Jason will overcome these areas in his life. He will get to the same goals, just in a way that works best for him.

6.5. Strategies Going Forward: Finally, an issue of inclusion has been brought up. Jason feels as though he is not grasping onto concepts quick enough in relation to his friends. As well, he has mentioned that he is afraid of being left behind by his friends when they go off to Post-Secondary. As a way to monitor this situation, I will ask his teacher's to have talks with Jason if he shows signs of continually feeling discouraged. Making sure my staff are on top of Jason's concerns is crucial for his success. As well, monitoring his inclusion with other students will help develop Jason's social skills, and being assertive outside of the classroom setting. I will then have staff report these moments with me during meetings.