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Chapter 3: Teaching Is Adapting to Student Diversity - page 9 / 16





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Ms. N.: Joey and Miranda can be the other team.

Joey: Miranda?

Ms. N.: Sure.  I saw Miranda building yesterday and she must have gotten 20 blocks in her tower before it crashed.

Miranda: It was 25 . . . I think.

Ms. N.: Okay, I’ll be the judge.  I’ll count the blocks you get in your towers.

The two teams work feverishly.  Ms. Noonan judges several rounds, with each team winning and losing a few.  She makes sure that she praises the children for their effort and their team work rather than simply for winning.  Ms. Noonan leaves to visit other children but the building competition continues for several minutes after her departure.

Ms. Noonan moves on to the art table, where two children, Bethany and Josh, are each drawing.  They are at opposite ends of the table, however, and seem to be largely unaware of the other.  Bethany has Down syndrome, which has led to a number of delays in her development.  Although Bethany generally gets along with the other children, Ms. Noonan has noticed that Bethany sometimes gets left out of spontaneously formed groups during free play.  Ms. Noonan, therefore, has been especially watchful of opportunities to get Bethany involved with other children during this time.  With this in mind, she convinces Bethany and Josh to each draw a picture of her as she sits and poses for them.  The children gleefully giggle and hug each other when Ms. Noonan sees their drawings and feigns outrage at having no arms in Bethany’s drawing and no ears in Josh’s.  Ms. Noonan then suggests that the children take turns drawing each other -- a task in which they engage enthusiastically as Ms. Noonan leaves to check in on the other children.

Ms. Noonan’s next stop is the make-believe corner.  Amaya and Ryan are in the midst of a dispute.  They turn to Ms. Noonan to plead their cases.

Ryan: I want to be the doctor and she won’t let me.

Amaya: But, I got the heart thing -- the thing for listening first.

Ms. N.: Ryan, did Amaya get the stethoscope first?

Ryan: No, I did and besides I told her she could be the nurse.  I got to be the doctor because boys aren’t nurses.

Ms. N.: Boys can be nurses or doctors.  Girls, too.  Girls can be doctors or nurses.

Ryan: I never saw a man nurse.

Ms. N.: Well, my mother was recently in the hospital because she had to get an operation.  One of her nurses was a man.  And she had two doctors that visited her -- one was a man, and the other a woman.

Ms. Noonan convinces the children to take turns at being doctor and nurse.  She also gets a third child, Molly involved.  With Molly as the patient, things proceed smoothly in the make-believe corner for the rest of the period.  Ms. Noonan decides, however, to use this episode as an opportunity to talk to the children about men’s and women’s roles in today’s society.  Later in the week, for example, she brings in several books to read to the children.  One is about a child whose mother was a doctor, another about two sisters being raised by their father, and a third is a brief history of Amelia Earhart, the famed aviator.  Later in the year, Ms. Noonan also arranges for a field trip to a local hospital.  During this trip, she makes certain that the children get to meet a male nurse as well several female doctors.

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