In case study 1, Zach is going through a lot, especially in his home environment which can cause problems in all aspects of his life. Zach’s parents are separated, and he has the pressure of looking after his siblings after school for an hour while his mum is at work. Effects of divorce/separation include students having problems in school, emotional distress and demonstrate a higher rate of behavioural and interpersonal problems (Hoy & Margetts, 2013). The second problem is that Zach and Patrick are disturbing the class as well as their own work through their conflicts and peer harassment.
The Educational theory relevant to this case study is Bronfenbrenner’s Ecological Systems Theory. According to Explorable (2018) this theory states that we experience different environments throughout our life that may influence our behaviour. These systems as stated by Scribd (2018, p. 1) include ‘the microsystem, the mesosystem, the exosystem, the macrosystem, and the chronosystem’. The microsystem’s setting is ‘the direct environment we have in our lives’ which include Zach’s family, friends, classmates and teachers.
The mesosystem involves the ‘relationships between the microsystems in one’s life’ (Scribd, 2018, p. 2). In this instance Zach’s parent’s separation may cause him to have anger issues and he may have a low chance of developing positive attitude towards his teachers and peers (Scribd, 2018, p. 3).
The exosystem is the ‘setting in which there is a link between the context where the person does not have any active role, and the context where in is actively participating’ (Explorable, 2018, p.
4). For example, if Zach is more attached to his father than his mother but through the separation is made to stay with his mother, there may be conflict between the mother and Zach’s relationship. The macrosystem stated by Scribd (2018, p. 5) is the ‘culture of the child’ and finally the chronosystem which includes the ‘transitions and shifts in the child’s life’ (Scribd, 2018, p. 5). Separation is a big change in one’s life which may affect not only the couple’s relationship but also Zach’s behaviour. According to Scribd (2018) children are negatively affected during the first year of the divorce as it’s the hardest transition period in their life and they struggle to cope with the change in their home environment.
According to Brooke’s Publishing (2016) conflicts between peers are a normal part of growing up but if not dealt with correctly and in the moment can interrupt the students learning, cause unwanted stress, and interfere with class time. Providing the children with problem-solving strategies can help them work through conflicts before they escalate into a much bigger problem (Brooke’s Publishing, 2016). Incorporating the four steps to problem solving in the classroom and making this an everyday practice will help student’s resolve conflict themselves instead of getting frustrated and being disruptive. These steps according to Brooke’s Publishing (2016) include ‘identifying the problem, developing a plan, evaluating the plan and implementing the plan’. To incorporate these steps into the classroom teachers, need to practice them using different role-playing conflict scenarios to get the children involved and through this the children will learn to show empathy and will be able to compromise with one another in a peaceful manner (Brooke’s Publishing, 2016).
In case study 3, Tiffany has a specific learning disability in Math’s, and according to Understood (2018, p. 2) ‘Kids with dyscalculia may have trouble recalling basic math facts and may struggle to recognize patterns and sort items by size, shape and colour’. They may also struggle with reading objects such as clocks, graphs or other visual representations of math concepts (Understood, 2018). Tiffany is successful with using concrete learning materials in the money concept but not the clock which included a concrete object too.
In case study 3 the Constructivist Theory and practice is most fitting to the scenario. One of the main concepts linked with constructivist theory is that learning should be meaningful, engaging, hands on and related to real life situations (Steele, 2015). An example Steele (2015, p. 1) shares is that ‘instead of having children work word problems to learn how to make change for a dollar, constructivist theory suggests it is better to give children real money to use in the classroom or school store for practice’. If students are actively involved in a productive lesson, they are more susceptible to retain and remember the information they are learning (Steele, 2015, p. 2).
Recognisng their student’s strengths and weaknesses are specific steps the teacher would take to collect and analyse data to make informed decisions and adjust their teaching techniques to fit their students needs (DSF, 2019). As stated by DSF (2019, p. 6) ‘following identification, parents, teachers and other educators can work together to set up strategies that will help the student learn math concepts more effectively’. Help from outside the classroom enables a student to achieve the skills needed in areas they are struggling with before moving on to new topics for them to grasp each step successfully first. Repeated reinforcement can make understanding easier, while asking yourself important questions such as ‘Which teaching strategy works best for my lower achieving students?’ (DSF, 2019, p. 6).
According to Understood (2018, p. 2) ‘strategies to help children with specific learning disabilities in Math’s include encouraging and building their number sense through fun activities like baking and hands on activities’. The use of a variety of multisensory techniques for teaching math helps make abstract concepts more concrete and exploring apps and internet tools can help with math too and help to make learning more engaging (DSF, 2019).