MultiSector CLA’s in Special Education

I figured I better write down some of my thoughts for Derek Stenton while I remember, and voila – I have a blog, so here we go.

I used a multi-sector CLA for my OLC4O/ENG4E split class for students in a SHSM.  We were given a presentation in November of 2012 and I put one into practice in January 2013.  I modified my choice because of the varying level of academic ability in my class. Our school has students in the ABLE, Essential/Workplace and Applied/College level.  My split class had students that could fit into all three levels.

My chosen CLA was on student voice (in the workplace). It’s original form asks about approximately 6 hours of class time.(which would easily equate to one 5 day week).  It was labelled for 4C/4U. I felt I needed to modify this CLA for a few reasons.  The CLA gives poetry selections as a means to teach about “voice” when writing. I found poetry did not go over particularly well with my group, so I chose to speak to them about using different voice by other means.  While this did stray from the original document, I feel I stayed within its core by still teaching what voice means.  We could easily discuss voice by looking at different novels we’ve read and the age/sex of an author versus a character he write about.  Song lyrics they were familiar with also helped some students understand the basic meaning behind voice. Even something as simple as role reversal examples gives the students an idea of looking at a situation from different perspectives as well.  We spoke about how different they are in life between school, family, dating, work, etc.

The next part of the exercise was to write incident reports using different voice.  Some students had difficulty with this, but they all understood how different people can report the same incident in different ways.  My students were good with the narrative story, but at times only repeated the story and did not fully take to heart how the reporting on an incident could have different varying renditions. The typical problems with grammar and formal writing were evident, but not distracting.  Again, I chose the case studies given from the web pages (and example) and had them write two for each.

The final part of the CLA was to write a job application letter and a college or university application letter.  I focussed on the job application letter, as only 2 students were applying to college. (I did help those 2 with the college, but for the purpose of this summary will stick to the job application)  I had the students look up jobs in the job bank related to their SHSM and ones with a possibility of actual employment.  The students used the sample cover letter very well and as a result, their letters were quite well written. Having an exemplar in this case was extremely important and beneficial to them.

Writing the cover letter was by far the most practical skill in the CLA.  My students understood the importance of having all the facts for an incident report and that it could be important for insurance and safety reasons, but didn’t quite connect with it as most of their jobs didn’t seem to prepare them for the need to write reports. (even though they all had WHMIS training)  The letter was important, as most of them have had co-op placements and were anticipating graduating soon and were looking for employment.  I think their thought process was “get the job first, worry about incidents later”.

I taught this as a mini unit in the class, which ended up taking a bit longer than one school week. We discussed voice, three different case studies and writing cover letters. I also booked computer lab time to help them write the reports and/or letters. Even though modified, I feel I covered the fundamental principles that were required for this mutli-sector CLA.

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