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Especially for Teachers

We understand that teaching a group of students while keeping in mind individual learners’ needs is a challenge. But there are techniques and strategies you can use that will help you to support students of all abilities—including those with learning disabilities. Visit the RTI Action Network for up-to-date info on Response to Intervention.

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Especially for Teachers



Reading Comprehension Instruction for Students With LD

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Background and Purpose

Research conducted in the 1980s and more recently has suggested that children with learning disabilities (LD) have difficulties with reading comprehension that are the result of broadly based language problems and not limited to simple difficulties with word recognition. Since reading comprehension is crucial to school success, it is essential to understand the difficulties children with LD face as they encounter new text and to identify instructional approaches that focus on learning and using the many skills that are needed for successful reading.

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Classroom Strategies

Teaching Disabilities-Learning Disabilities StrategiesOn a daily basis, teachers face multiple challenges in the classroom. One of those challenges is teaching a group of students with varying abilities so that everyone can learn grade-level skills and content. This means that while teaching to the group, you have to keep in mind the needs of individual learners. This is especially important for those students with learning disabilities (LD) in your classroom.

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Working With Dyslexia

Teaching Dyslexia-School for Dyslexia Dyslexia is a life-long condition. With proper help people with dyslexia can learn to read and/or write well. Early identification and treatment is the key to helping dyslexics achieve in school and in life. Most people with dyslexia need help from a teacher, tutor, or therapist specially trained in using a multisensory, structured language approach. It is important for these individuals to be taught by a method that involves several senses (hearing, seeing, touching) at the same time. Many individuals with dyslexia need one-on-one help so that they can move forward at their own pace. For students with dyslexia, it is helpful if their outside academic therapists work closely with classroom teachers.

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Teaching Reading to Teens With Learning Disabilities

Comrephension Skills-How to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills

Reading Problems Do Not Just Go Away

During the past few years, there has been a significant effort, both within schools and throughout the community at large, to draw attention to the critical importance (and benefit) of effective reading instruction, especially for students in the early school years. It is also common knowledge that, in the vast majority of schools throughout the country, students "learn to read" during the early grades and are then expected to "read to learn" as they transition into the middle and high school years. The problem remains that too many children, particularly those with learning disabilities, do not learn to read proficiently in the primary grades. National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) scores over the past few years suggest that almost 40% of fourth grade students read below the "basic level" (defined as "partial mastery of prerequisite knowledge and skills that are fundamental for proficient work at each grade"). And if these students do not learn to read at or close to grade level by the end of elementary school, they enter the secondary grades unable to succeed in a challenging high school curriculum, and unfortunately, rarely catch up by the time they are ready to graduate.

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Strategic Instruction Model: How to Teach, How to Learn

Teaching Practices-Teaching Effective Almost 25 years ago, a group of researchers at the University of Kansas set out to change “business as usual” in terms of instruction for students with learning disabilities (LD). They recognized that adolescents were especially vulnerable to school failure, especially in the area of literacy (reading, writing, comprehension), and that these students were likely to continue to fall further behind unless they were helped to be more “strategic” in their approach to learning. Decades of classroom research and thousands of professional development hours later, we are fortunate to have an approach to teaching students (and training educators) that can help students build essential skills and learn complex subject matter as well as assist teachers imbed effective strategies into classroom instruction. And most recently, we have gained an understanding of how whole schools can adopt and support strategic approaches to teaching and learning across content areas.

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Effective Reading Instruction In the Classroom

reading-teaching-strategies-teacher-reads-to-class The following summary of effective reading instruction has been excerpted from a 64-page booklet, designed by teachers for teachers, that summarizes what researchers have discovered about how to successfully teach children to read. Put Reading First: The Research Building Blocks for Teaching Children to Read describes the findings of the National Reading Panel Report and provides analysis and discussion in five areas of reading instruction: phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary and text comprehension.

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Reading for Meaning: Helping Students Become Successful Readers

Teaching Reading-Reading Teaching Strategies Practitioners and parents have the incredible responsibility of preparing their students to participate in a literate society. If the ultimate goal of reading is the comprehension of written text, whether encountered in academic, work or life settings, then we must ensure that our students possess those skills and abilities that are fundamental to making meaning of written language.

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The NICHD Research Program in Reading Development, Disorders and Instruction

Comprehension Skills-How to Improve Reading Comprehension Skills

Background and Purpose

Learning to read is critical to a child's (and an adult's) well-being. The child and adult who cannot read at a comfortable level experience significant difficulties mastering many types of academic content, are at substantial risk for failure in school, and are frequently unable to reach their potential in the vocational and occupational arena. Unfortunately, the rate of reading failure and illiteracy are unacceptably high in the United States. Over 40 percent of fourth grade students performed below basic levels on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) in both 1994 and 1998. Over 10% of fourth grade children could not even participate in the NAEP due to severe reading difficulties. Moreover, converging evidence from longitudinal, population- based data indicate that at least 17 percent to 20 percent of children have a significant reading disability. A real crisis revealed in these statistics is the disproportionate representation of children who are poor, racial minorities, and non-native speakers of English. However, it is also noteworthy that large numbers of school-age children from all social classes, races and ethnic groups have significant difficulties learning to read. Because reading is so critical to success in our society, reading failure constitutes not only an educational problem but also rises to the level of a major public health problem.

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Intervention Research for Students with LD

Intervention for Students-Students with Disabilities

A Meta-Analysis of Treatment Outcomes (Executive Summary)

Background and Purpose

In the last 20 years, the number of children classified as having learning disabilities has increased substantially, from roughly three-quarters of a million in 1976 to more than 2.6 million in 1997. These children currently make up almost half of schools' special education population, yet it is still unclear which teaching strategies best help these children. Furthermore, a review of past literature reveals few systematic analyses of instructional approaches for students who have learning disabilities. This lack of clear direction creates confusion about how best to educate these students.

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Can School-Based Interventions Enhance the Self-Concept of Students With LD?

Learning Strategies for Students-Strategies for Students with Disabilities

A Research Synthesis (Executive Summary)

Background and Purpose

The desire for a positive evaluation of self affects a person's feelings, actions, and aspirations throughout life. In the course of childhood and adolescence, school experiences play an important role in the development of self-perceptions and can have powerful and long-term effects on a child's self-esteem. Individuals with learning disabilities (LD) are especially vulnerable to low self-concept. Research findings have linked LD with poor self-concept, and it is clear that students with LD often experience academic challenges that can drain self-esteem.

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Implementing CBM In the Classroom

Curriculum Based Measurement-Student Monitoring There are many benefits to using Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM). It helps teachers plan effective instruction, estimate and document student progress, and communicate with parents or other professionals about student progress. Moreover, CBM data can help teachers improve the academic growth of at-risk students or students with learning disabilities who may need a change of instruction or additional services.

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Children With Reading Problems in Middle and High School

Reading Comprehension Skills-Reading Comprehension Strategies Recently, there’s been a lot of research and discussion about early intervention and teaching basic reading skills to kids before the age of nine. But what happens to kids with delayed reading skills when they enter middle and high school? Are accommodations in the classroom enough? Is it too late to teach reading? In this article, Kevin Feldman, EdD, addresses these questions.

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Best Practices for LD Identification

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Background

The determination that a child has a specific learning disability (SLD) and is in need of special education requires a carefully implemented multi-step process. The objective is to ensure that the child receives the instruction, support and services needed to succeed in school. There is, however, considerable variation in practice and policy in state and local education agencies as they interpret the federal requirements to determine if a child has an SLD as outlined in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act (IDEA) of 2004. For example, there is a lack of consensus on the extent of cognitive assessment that should be included in a comprehensive evaluation. Furthermore, the rapid adoption of Response to Intervention (RTI) in schools across the country requires new policies that balance the timelines of IDEA’s Child Find mandates with the integration of RTI data into the process of determining if a child has an SLD.  

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The Effect of Instructional Grouping Format on Reading Outcomes

Teaching Reading-Reading Teaching Strategies

A Meta-Analytic Review (Executive Summary)

Background and Purpose

American schools are educating an increasingly diverse student population. This diversity is present in students' cultural and linguistic backgrounds, behavior, and learning abilities. One of the greatest challenges that teachers face is to provide appropriate reading instruction for all students, including students with learning disabilities and behavior disorders.

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Scientifically Based Practice: Show Me the Evidence

teaching-practices-students-study-human-bodyThere is no doubt about it: "Research" is a very hot topic in the field of learning disabilities (LD) as well as throughout the educational community at large. The phrase "scientifically based research" is mentioned 111 times in the No Child Left Behind Act, and the law compels educators to use "teaching practices that have been proven to work." And to receive federal Reading First funds, eligible school districts must submit a proposal to their state outlining how they plan to teach their students to read using "research based practices." That said, it is also important to know that not all research is created equal, or perhaps better stated, different research methods are needed to answer different sorts of questions. A brief overview of these methods and the types of questions they are best suited to answer will follow.

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What Is Universal Design for Learning?

what-is-universal-design-learning-teacher-addresses-kindergarten-class icon_podcastsThe following is a transcription of the podcast, Universal Design for Learning (Audio).”

 

In this podcast on the topic of Universal Design for Learning (UDL), Laura Kaloi, public policy advisor for the National Center for Learning Disabilities, interviews Skip Stahl from the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) based in Wakefield, Massachusetts. Mr. Stahl serves as CAST Director of Technical Assistance and is Co-Director of the Accessible Instructional Material Consortium. He is a nationally recognized expert in Universal Design for Learning. He has extensive experience in providing professional development and assistance to educators in K-12 and postsecondary settings.

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Success in the General Education Curriculum

Curriculum Based Measurement-Student Monitoring There was a time, not too long ago, when children with disabilities were "separate and unequal." They were kept away from their peers during periods of classroom instruction; assigned to separate tables in the lunchroom, and even kept apart from others in their grade for gym and special periods such as art and music. Today's educational community shudders at the recollection of supply closets in remote locations and boiler rooms doubling as classrooms for children whose special learning and behavior needs were not being met in "regular" classroom settings. These students were not only physically and socially removed from the mainstream of school life: they were excluded from the types of teaching and experiences that should have set them on a course toward school success and independence.

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What Works vs. Whatever Works

Teaching Practices-Teaching Effective

While traveling to and from meetings during the past few weeks, I noticed the news seemed to be all about sports: the start of the baseball season, the NCAA basketball tournament and the Kentucky Derby. I am not a sports enthusiast (I do confess to be a ready participant, and my interest in professional sports peaks at the time of playoffs) but could not help but find myself thinking about how our society monitors and acknowledges remarkable achievement, exceptional performance, what it means to be (and do) "the best," and how these same values carry over into other aspects of our lives. The connection to educational practice? Read on.

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Universal Design Q&A for Educators and Administrators

Strategies for Students with Disabilties-Universal Design Learning

How does Universal Design for Learning Help Teachers in Real Classrooms?

From pre-kindergarten to graduate school, classrooms usually include learners with diverse abilities and backgrounds, including students with physical, sensory, and learning disabilities, differing cultural and linguistic backgrounds, varied preferences and motivations for learning, students who are unusually gifted, and many others.

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Online Tutorial on Learning Disabilities for Educators

Teaching Disabilities-Learning Disabilities Strategies Learning disabilities (LD) is the most prevalent educationally handicapping condition in school-aged children. While the challenges faced by students with LD often overlap with those experienced by students who have other disorders that impact learning, behavior and attention, a keen understanding of LD is essential to providing these students with the unique types of instruction and support they need to be successful in school. The best way to help a child with a learning disability (or a child who shows signs of struggle with learning) is to understand what LD is and is not, and to be prepared to choose and implement effective strategies and interventions that will ensure success throughout the school years and prepare the child for successful transition to advanced schooling and gainful employment.

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The "What Works Clearinghouse"

Teaching Practices-Teaching Effective The U.S. Department of Education's What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) was established to provide educators, policymakers and the public with a central, independent and trusted source of information regarding what works in education, essentially a Consumer Reports for educational research.

The WWC is designed to help meet the demand for reviews of current educational programs, policies, and practices that claim to improve student outcomes. Reviews by the WWC will show educators which educational programs have been proven by scientific research and which have not. The clearinghouse uses a rigorous set of standards for its research reviews, standards created by a Technical Advisory Group of top educational researchers, including Dr. Douglas Carnine, a former member of NCLD's professional advisory board.

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Intervention Research for Adolescents with LD

Teaching Effective-Problems with Teaching

A Meta-Analysis of Outcomes Related to High-Order Processing (Executive Summary)

Background and Purpose

As children go through adolescence, striking changes occur in their problem-solving abilities. As a result, adolescents are generally more efficient and sophisticated learners than younger children, and they are able to more easily cope with advanced topics in difficult academic areas.

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Universal Design: Introduction and Background

Strategies for Students with Disabilties-Universal Design LearningStudents often come to the classroom with a variety of needs, skills, talents, and interests. For many learners, the typical curriculum -- which includes goals, instructional methods, classroom materials, and assessments -- is littered with barriers and roadblocks, while supports are relatively few. Faced with an inflexible curriculum, students and teachers are expected to make extraordinary adjustments. UDL turns this scenario around, placing the burden to adapt on the curriculum itself.

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Curriculum-Based Measurement - Now What?

Curriculum and Teaching-Teaching Practices Curriculum-Based Measurement (CBM) is a way for educators to gather precise information about what their students know; record (chart) these data, and measure their learning progress over time. The good news about CBM is that by targeting and sampling performance in specific skill areas, teachers can choose instructional materials and implement teaching strategies that attack students' areas of need. Less guesswork, more purposeful instruction, better results. Sounds like a plan, right?

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Common Sense in Education and Research

Teaching Education-Teaching Effective

Do you remember the last time you read a newspaper article, magazine feature or full-length book that grabbed your attention and wouldn't let go until the final punctuation mark on the last page? Or how about the last time you nestled in with a book and found yourself thinking that the author had you in mind when it was being written? Maybe it was a romance novel or a tale of mystery and intrigue. Well, believe it or not, it just happened to me, and the topic was (brace yourself) educational research!

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Meaningful Data: Your Guide to Early Reading Success

Reading Learning Disabilities-Reading Disabilities in Children OK already! I get it! Reading does not just "happen" and young children, even those who seem to be learning to read without formal instruction, need to be taught the specific foundational skills that are known to support decoding, comprehension, vocabulary development, and fluency in reading. The opening paragraphs of Dr. Joe Torgesen's article, "Preventing Early Reading Failure and its Devastating Downward Spiral," offers examples of the importance of critical early literacy skills and explains how undetected weakness can lead to a "terrible spiral" of frustration and failure. The truth is that poor early readers will become poor adult readers unless effective early instruction and intervention is provided.

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U.S. Department of Education: Source of Research

Research on Special Education-Teaching ResearchThe U.S. Department of Education is a source of research and resources for parents and educators. Featured below are some of the core funded activities by the Office of Special Education (OSEP) and the Institute of Education Sciences.

 

But, First, a Little Background.

Remember when people talked about the "3-Rs," reading, writing, and 'rithmetic, as the basic ingredients of a sound education? Well, there's every reason to add a fourth "R" to this list an 8-letter word that is frequently the focus of controversy, confusion, and even anxiety, for educators, as well as for parents. That word is research!

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NIMAS: Benefits for LD Students

Students with Disabilities-Strategies for Students with Disabilities In a perfect world, students with learning disabilities would have easy access to simple techniques that help compensate for their unique learning challenges. If implemented as intended, the universally acceptable standards set by the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard (NIMAS) will open doors for these students, allowing more flexible options for reading by giving students electronically enhanced versions of text material.

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Scientifically Based Practices - Part II

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Research is Not Just for Researchers 

The words "research-based" or "evidence-based" are now used widely throughout the education world. (This is a very good thing!) As mentioned a year ago in my column "Scientifically Based Practice: Show Me the Evidence," the No Child Left Behind law compels educators to use "teaching practices that have been proven to work." In that column I wrote that:

  • simply collecting data is not in and of itself scientific
  • not all research is created equal
  • decisions based on careful scientific inquiry are better than those made by "shooting from the hip"
  • and introduced different types of research designs such as experimental group studies, correlational studies, single subject studies and qualitative studies.

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The U.S. Department of Education Regional Lab Program

Teaching Practices-Teaching Effective There is no question that there is an "art" to teaching. And we all know that underlying good teaching practice is the "science" that speaks to which instructional strategies are most effective to deliver specific content to students in different settings and at different points in their educational careers. Teachers have a profound influence on student learning, and their ability to access information and support about research-based (or promising) instructional strategies, management techniques or curriculum design can have an enormous impact upon their students' success.

One valuable resource for parent and educators is the U.S. Department of Education Regional Educational Laboratory Program. The "Lab Program" was designed to help educators, policy makers, and communities improve schools and help all students attain their full potential. One way they do this is by ensuring that information about exemplary and promising programs, as well as other important lessons about school reform developed or learned in one site, can be appropriately applied elsewhere.

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What Is the National Instructional Materials Accessibility Standard?

Instructional Technologies-Students Disabilities Students with disabilities are too often handicapped by the very textbooks that are intended to help them learn. As designed, textbooks that are intended to facilitate learning inadvertently pose barriers to students who, for example, are limited in their ability to see printed text on the page, have difficulty turning pages, or have difficulty processing the information presented in printed narrative formats. The classic layout of most textbooks is only useful to specific students, while the needs of those who struggle with the printed narrative and bound volumes are disregarded. These volumes are also limited in flexibility when it comes to assistive technologies, and while scanners and screen reader programs can be helpful, they don't allow for the kind of flexibility of instruction that has proven to be so helpful to students who struggle, especially those with learning disabilities.

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Response-to-Intervention Resources for Teachers

RTI ResourcesThe National Center for Learning Disabilities’ (NCLD) RTI Action Network is dedicated to the effective implementation of Response to Intervention (RTI) in school districts nationwide. Their website, rtinetwork.org,  provides crucial materials to support RTI implementation, in addition to insightful articles from thought leaders in the field. Visit the content below to learn more.

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Recommended Resources for Research on Teaching and Learning

Teaching Practices-Teaching Effective

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