Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Working with Learning Disabled Students

Question: What are two contrasting approaches to working with learning disabled students?

One Approach: “Dan (a pseudonym) had been diagnosed as learning disabled and been in an oral program throughout his middle-school years. In the oral program, he had been provided with textbook audiotapes and a paraprofessional teacher. The ‘para’ read his assignments to him and transcribed his oral responses. The same procedure was followed for tests and exams. The para read the questions and transcribed his answers. When we looked at the situation, we thought possibly the school system had created a form of ‘learned helplessness’ for Dan.” P. 4.

Alternative Approach: “…a remedial program that incorporated (a) a multisensory approach to teaching word identification, spelling and cursive writing letter formation, (b) fluency training, and (c) summary writing, using the same material that was being studied in the regular classroom….” P. 8.

Quote: “In working with Dan, the resource specialist…made her own thought processes for studying textual material explicit, thereby helping Dan accomplish what would otherwise be too difficult for him without paraprofessional support. In this way, Dan learned to function independently. With renewed faith in his own ability, he was able to remain in the mainstream.” P. 8.

 Comment: I don’t know whether I should add something that I tried with learning disabled writers, but I will. I had the student write for ten minutes a day, corrected everything : sentence structure, organization, spelling, grammar, etc. Then the student re-wrote and studied my corrections. As part of the regular class, he was taught how to construct a composition from brainstorming to thesis, to first draft, to the introductory paragraph, to revision and editing. By the end of the semester, he was able to construct a reasonably well organized and reasonably correct composition. RayS.

Title: “Enhancing the Performance of a High School Student Labeled Learning Disabled.” BL Zakaluk and M Klassen. Journal of Reading (September 1992), 4-9.

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