I am a Regular Education fifth-grade Language Arts and Social Studies teacher at Betsy Ross Arts Magnet School in New Haven, Connecticut, an Inter-district Magnet School with an emphasis on the arts. Betsy Ross is an inner-city school that is open for both urban and suburban students from surrounding areas beyond the New Haven Public School System. Our middle school serves students in grades five through eight. Betsy Ross is founded on the principle that through the arts, they will learn, think, and see their academics in an innovative, challenging way. The students attend five academic classes and one art class every day.
I teach in an inclusive classroom setting with both regular and Special Education students. For this reason, there are two teachers present in the room, modeling the co-teaching principle. I am the Regular Education teacher, and there is a Special Education teacher with whom I collaborate and consult with for the modification and adaptation of curriculum. This year there are nineteen students in my classroom, nine of whom have individualized Education Plans, which call for many adaptations and modifications to the regular curriculum taught in the classroom. All subjects are taught in my classroom, and both my co-teacher and I teach our subject areas together, taking turns teaching the academic subjects. Our students' abilities vary in functional levels. Their abilities extend from basic learners to advanced level learners. The disabilities present within the room range from a high-functioning autistic student to students with various learning disabilities such as Tourette syndrome and attention deficit disorder. My class is also rich in diversity and ethnicity. My students fall into four categories: Caucasian, African American, Middle Eastern, and Hispanic. Each category of students has offered personal experiences that stimulate wonderful conversations about countries where they are from and their cultures and traditions.
Language Arts fifth-grade curriculum exposes students to both nonfiction and fiction texts. Social Studies themes are present within the shared reading texts. Two texts are historical non-fiction texts while five texts are historical fiction. The historical non-fiction texts are great bridges to history because they ask students to build prior knowledge, set a purpose for reading, and use the six comprehension strategies (predicting, connecting, wondering, figuring out, picturing, and noticing) on a daily basis. Each text in the curriculum is accompanied by a shared reading planner in which students are actively encouraged to use the six comprehension strategies. The Revolutionary War is a part of the curriculum that is taught though both historical non- fiction and fiction texts.