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Posted: September 6th, 2023

Benchmark – Supporting Diverse Student Needs

Benchmark – Supporting Diverse Student Needs. Throughout this course, you have studied the major principles, concepts, and learning theories related to the major developmental milestones and stages of development. With this knowledge, you will explore how to integrate the major principles, concepts, and learning theories when determining the appropriate instructional strategies that meet the diverse needs of all students.

Imagine you are a third-grade general education teacher trying to support the needs of specific students in your classroom. Using the “ELM-500 Case Study,” write a 1,000 word essay that addresses the following areas of development:

Describe each student’s current state of cognitive, linguistic, physical, social, and emotional development.
Explain how you would use the background information and experiences, interests, and strengths of the students in the case study to design developmentally appropriate and engaging learning experiences, promote the acquisition of knowledge, and increase motivation.
Describe three developmentally appropriate instructional strategies that a teacher could implement in a third grade classroom to support the learning of all students.
Explain how you would adjust (differentiate) each instructional strategy to support Alicia, Sena, and Jeremy’s cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development. Use major concepts, principles, theories, and other research to support your adjustment suggestions.
Describe one technique or strategy you could implement with each student in the case study to increase their motivation and promote self-directed learning.
Explain what personal values and biases may affect teaching and how those can influence student learning, specifically students with diverse needs such as those in the case study.
Support your findings with a minimum of 3-5 scholarly resources.

Prepare this assignment according to the guidelines found in the APA Style Guide, located in the Student Success Center.

This assignment uses a rubric. Review the rubric prior to beginning the assignment to become familiar with the expectations for successful completion.

You are required to submit this assignment to LopesWrite. A link to the LopesWrite technical support articles is in Class Resources if you need assistance.

Benchmark Information

This benchmark assignment assesses the following programmatic competencies and professional standards:

MEd Elementary Education (ITL/NITL)

1.1: Apply knowledge of students’ developmental level, prior experiences, interests, and culture to design appropriate and engaging instruction. [InTASC 1(b), 1(d), 1(e), 1(f), 1(h), 1(i), 2(a), 2(b), 2(c), 2(d), 2(j), 2(m), 3(r); TPE 1.1, 4.2; AAQEP 1a, 1b; MC2, MC5]

1.6: Design and modify instruction applying the major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development of children and young adolescents. [InTASC 1(e), 1(h), 2(a), 2(j), 7(j), 7(n), 8(j), 8(k), 8(p); TPE 1.1, 2.1; AAQEP 1b; MC2]

5.1: Reflect on personal values and biases and how they may affect teaching and learning. [InTASC 9(e), 9(i), 9(m); TPE 6.2; MC3, MC4]

MEd Elementary Education and Special Education (ITL/NITL)

1.3: Design and modify instruction applying the major concepts, principles, theories, and research related to the cognitive, linguistic, social, emotional, and physical development of children and young adolescents that supports the role of language and culture in learning, and readiness for learning across performance areas. [InTASC 1(a), 1(e), 1(f), 1(g), 2(c), 2(d), 2(e), 2(g), 2(i), 2(j), 2(k), 2(o); MC2, MC3, MC5]

1.4: Create developmentally appropriate instruction that takes into account individual learners’ strengths, interests, differences, and needs, using instructional strategies that promote students’ learning and individual development, acquisition of knowledge, and motivation. [InTASC 1(b), 1(d), 1(h), 1(i), 2(a), 2(b), 2(f), 2(g), 2(h), 2(l), 2(m), 2(n); MC2, MC3].
ELM-500 Case Study
Scenario: You are a third-grade general education teacher at Oak Street Elementary School and have the following students in your third-grade class.
Name: Alicia Hernandez
Alicia has attended Oak Street Elementary School since first grade. She is a native English speaker. She is a very happy outgoing child. Both her first and second grade teachers report that Alicia loves art and enjoys participating in art class. This year her parents enrolled her and her best friend in a Saturday painting class.
Alicia is very social at school. She has many friends that she plays with on the playground. She shows kindness to classmates and volunteers to help with classroom jobs. She works well when paired with peers or in a group setting.
While in first grade, Alicia struggled to master all the first grade benchmarks but with support met the minimum requirements and was promoted to second grade. In second grade, Alicia continued to struggle. Her second grade teacher met with Alicia’s parents several times concerning her lack of progress on the second grade benchmarks. A variety of teaching strategies were tried to support Alicia’s academic needs.
Baseline data from the reading assessment indicates Alicia is reading below grade level at 1.6 (first grade and six months).
Baseline data from the math assessment indicates Alicia is performing math calculations below grade level at 1.8 (first grade and eight months).
Name: Sena Kim
Sena has attended Oak Street Elementary School since second grade when she and her family moved to America. She has been classified as an ELL student and receives English language development, in addition to content area instruction. Sena was born in South Korea and her family only speaks Korean at home. She attended school in South Korea until moving to America. Her family is very involved in their local Korean-American church.
Sena’s teachers have indicated she can complete grade-level work when the material is presented in her native language but has not yet mastered English enough to fully understand either written or oral instruction in only that language.
Sena is shy and does not talk a lot in the classroom but has begun building relationships with a few girls in the class and can be seen laughing and smiling during their small group interactions. She enjoys drawing and playing with her siblings at home.
Baseline data using native language material indicates Sena is reading on grade level at 3.2 (third grade and two months).
Baseline data using native language material indicates Sena is performing math calculations above grade level at 4.1 (fourth grade and one month).
Name: Jeremy Smith
Jeremy has attended Oak Street Elementary School since kindergarten. He is a native English speaker with an above average IQ (133). Jeremy has an orthopedic impairment and uses an electric wheelchair for mobility. He enjoys creative activities and taking art with his peers. Cognitively he functions above his peer group but struggles with social interactions.
His parents indicated that he sometimes experiences depression because he feels different than his friends at school and cannot participate in all of the typical activities his peers can engage in regularly. Jeremey tends to be very hard on himself when he makes mistakes and can behave inappropriately when he gets frustrated. He enjoys playing video games at home.
Baseline data from the reading assessment indicates Jeremey is reading above grade level at 6.2 (sixth grade and two months).
Baseline data from the math assessment indicates Jeremey is performing math calculations above grade level at 5.5 (fifth grade and five months).

Benchmark – Supporting Diverse Student Needs
Throughout this course, you have studied the major principles, concepts, and learning theories related to the major developmental milestones and stages of development. With this knowledge, you will explore how to integrate the major principles, concepts, and learning theories when determining the appropriate instructional strategies that meet the diverse needs of all students.
Current Developmental States and Backgrounds
Alicia Hernandez is a happy and social third grader performing below grade level in reading and math. Her strengths are in art and social interactions (National Center for Education Statistics, 2022). Sena Kim is an ELL student from South Korea performing on grade level in reading using her native language but still developing English proficiency (World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment, 2019). Jeremy Smith has above average cognitive abilities but an orthopedic impairment using a wheelchair. He struggles with social interactions due to feeling different from peers (Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 2004).
Developmentally-Appropriate Learning Experiences
To design engaging learning, a teacher could incorporate students’ interests, backgrounds and strengths (Tomlinson, 2014). For Alicia, the teacher could include art projects related to topics being studied to motivate learning (Darling-Hammond et al., 2020). For Sena, lessons could initially be presented in Korean using culturally relevant examples to build comprehension before transitioning materials to English (Gay, 2018). For Jeremy, the teacher could implement cooperative learning groups to foster social relationships and peer tutoring to increase confidence through teaching others (Meyer et al., 2014).
Instructional Strategies for Diverse Learners
Three developmentally appropriate strategies for all third graders are: visual representations, hands-on activities, and flexible grouping (Tomlinson, 2017). Visuals like graphic organizers and diagrams aid comprehension. Hands-on activities engage multiple learning styles. Flexible grouping allows for whole class, small group, and individualized instruction.
To differentiate for each student, visuals for Alicia could incorporate her art interests. For Sena, visuals could include images from her culture and hands-on activities initially use familiar Korean vocabulary. For Jeremy, visuals could be enlarged for his wheelchair and hands-on activities structured for participation. Flexible groups for all could be ability-based for skills practice or interest-based for motivation (Hall et al., 2015).
Increasing Student Motivation and Self-Directed Learning
To increase Alicia’s motivation, the teacher could allow her to create an art portfolio of work to display. For Sena, the teacher could provide opportunities for her to teach Korean words and customs to the class to foster pride and confidence in her culture. For Jeremy, the teacher could implement a student technology help desk where he assists peers with classroom devices to encourage independence and leadership (Deci & Ryan, 2008).
Addressing Personal Biases
All teachers must reflect on biases to establish an equitable and inclusive classroom (Villegas & Lucas, 2002). For these students, a teacher’s perceptions of abilities based on English proficiency or disability could influence expectations. Seeking cultural awareness training and disability sensitivity can help address biases (National Education Association, 2011). Implementing culturally relevant pedagogy also demonstrates value of students’ backgrounds (Ladson-Billings, 2014).
In conclusion, understanding child development and differentiating instruction based on individual student needs, strengths, interests and backgrounds is essential for all students to reach their full potential (Tomlinson, 2017).
Darling-Hammond, L., Flook, L., Cook-Harvey, C., Barron, B., & Osher, D. (2020). Implications for educational practice of the science of learning and development. Applied Developmental Science, 24(2), 97–140.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2008). Facilitating optimal motivation and psychological well-being across life’s domains. Canadian Psychology/Psychologie Canadienne, 49(1), 14–23.
Gay, G. (2018). Culturally responsive teaching: Theory, research, and practice. Teachers College Press.
Hall, T., Vue, G., Strangman, N., & Meyer, A. (2015). Differentiated instruction and implications for UDL implementation. Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessible Educational Materials. Retrieved from
Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 20 U.S.C. § 1400 (2004)
Ladson-Billings, G. (2014). Culturally relevant pedagogy 2.0: A.k.a. the remix. Harvard Educational Review, 84(1), 74–84.
Meyer, A., Rose, D. H., & Gordon, D. (2014). Universal design for learning: Theory and practice. CAST Professional Publishing.
National Center for Education Statistics. (2022, May). The condition of education. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from
National Education Association. (2011). Professional development for general and special education teachers: Challenges and strategies. Retrieved from
Tomlinson, C. A. (2014). The differentiated classroom: Responding to the needs of all learners (2nd ed.). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Tomlinson, C. A. (2017). How to differentiate instruction in academically diverse classrooms. Alexandria, VA: ASCD.
Villegas, A. M., & Lucas, T. (2002). Preparing culturally responsive teachers: Rethinking the curriculum. Journal of Teacher Education, 53(1), 20–32.
World-Class Instructional Design and Assessment. (2019). The WIDA English language development standards framework, 2022 edition: Kindergarten-grade 12. Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.

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