“Collaboration and Cross-Age Peer Tutoring for Lucy”
Collaboration provides many potential benefits and few drawbacks for parties involved in the Lucy’s education. Mr. Allen’s first grade class achieve educational goals as well. Mr. Allen and Ms. Harris have joined forces to form an educational environment that facilitates learning for both the first grade class and Lucy. The objective is to provide a win-win situation for everyone involved. The obvious benefits are areas of academic enhancement. Particularly, language arts areas include story grammar, comprehension, identification of sight words, acquisition of vocabulary, and general reading skills. Mostly positive results were found for both short- and long-term cross-age peer tutoring. However, although some benefits of cross-age peer tutoring are not necessarily considered “academic”, they are nevertheless important for a child with moderate cognitive disability and for children without cognitive disabilities. The cross-age peer tutoring model appears functional for all students involved. More importantly, integral work between teachers makes Lucy’s educational network a possibility.
Teachers consider several factors before developing a strategy like cross-age peer tutoring. Lucy has strengths and weaknesses that contribute to her overall consideration for cross-age peer tutoring. Obviously, teachers try to focus on strengths while improving weaknesses. Because Lucy is moderately retarded, she may exhibit learned helplessness to some degree. The MR label in itself can contribute to learned helplessness. If Lucy exhibits this behavior, cross-age peer tutoring could teach her be more confidant when approaching a task. Lucy’s time in the first grade classroom also gives her a chance to move away from outer-directness as a way of problem-solving. She will gain confidence from feedback of the students and teachers that serve as positive reinforcers for her to make decisions by her own motivation and choosing. Research shows that high-needs students benefit significantly from cross-age and peer tutoring in areas including self-esteem, locus of control and social skills. If Lucy’s attitude toward school is positive, she is also more likely to graduate. Some or all of these benefits could have played some role in the collaborative effort to enhance Lucy‘s education by c...
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...acilitate learning for all students who are part of the collaborative effort. Nirje describes normalization as follows: Normalization does not mean normalized; it does not mean that anyone’s behavior should be forced to conform to any particular standard (e.g.. what 51% of one's neighbors do or what experts feel is best): it does not mean that mentally handicapped persons are expected to be made normal or to act like other people.”
Normalization means the acceptance of persons with their handicap within “normal“ society, with the same rights, responsibilities, and opportunities as are available to others.”
Collaboration is at best a successful result of normalization. Schools have a social strata and students are part of that. Acceptance of the mentally retarded with their handicap is important to that social structure just as other students are. Although Lucy participates only three hours per week, she gains invaluable social skills, learns an internal locus of control and exhibits self-determining behavior. In that three hours, Lucy receives what no text book, adult teacher or lesson itself provides her: being accepted into a group without regard for her handicap.
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