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Click here for free trial login. Loading content Other learners with disabilities receive a literacy education that focuses only on isolated skills and competencies e. Further, teachers wanting to include a wider range of students might need to broaden or change their definition of literacy.
Instead of understanding literacy as only the ability to read, the demonstration of a set of isolated skills, or the mastery of a set of rules, it could be seen as dynamic and relative and as something that is demonstrated in student communication, social interactions, and problem solving. Researchers have found that the classroom itself can have a powerful effect on learning.
By simply increasing natural opportunities for engagement with items in the classroom environment e. Every teacher can make changes in the environment that will help the literacy learning of students with disabilities. Ideas for making the classroom environment more literacy-friendly include providing more visual supports e.
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Increasing or varying the types of materials available to students is another way to make the classroom more inclusive. For instance, many students need classroom reading material to be adapted for their individual needs. A student who has low vision may need a book with large print and a student who reads below grade level may need some of the text rewritten using language that is less complex. Other adaptations to books or stories include highlighting key portions of the text, adding illustrations, inserting a glossary of unfamiliar terms, creating space for the child to take notes, add pictures, or write questions, and creating an audiotape or PowerPoint version.
Students may also need access to computers and other types of technology as they learn to read, write, speak, and listen. Some students may also enjoy experimenting with gadgets in the back of the classroom closet such as typewriters, word processors, film-strip machines, language masters, and simple hand-held electronic language games.
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Often this type of equipment is given away to make room for new materials but some of these old favorites may actually be preferred by certain learners. For instance, one young man with autism I know likes to use a computer program that is over twenty years old because the text and background is very simple and lacks all of the color and special features of newer programs. Since he is very sensitive to light and color, he prefers the more basic program. Another student who is very tactile loves to create short poems using the tape from an old raised-letter label maker.
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When students with a wide range of literacy skills, abilities, and needs are working together in the same classroom, the teacher will need to use active learning to reach everyone and to assess how they all learn and what they all know. Whether it is in the form of games, small group work, drama, partner work, simulations, or cooperative learning structures, teachers using active learning have greater opportunities to differentiate instruction and meet individual needs.
When a teacher is at the front of a classroom providing all of the instruction, it is hard for him or her to personalize his or her approach or to assess the learning of individual students. Contrast this with an active learning lesson where students are engaged in work on their own or with others. In this model, the teacher is usually free to observe students, engage in informal assessment, deliver different types of instruction to different students, provide mini-lessons to certain learners, and ask and answer individual questions.
While active learning can be beneficial to many students, it may be particularly important for students with certain disabilities. Students with some speech and language problems, for example, may have difficulty expressing the answers to comprehension questions.
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These same learners, however, may be able to show their understanding of a particular story during a drama exercise. In order to meet the needs of all students in the diverse classroom, teachers in inclusive schools must consider how they can work together to improve the reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills of all. Collaboration might involve developing co-teaching models, working closely with reading teachers to bring state-of-the-art practice to all learners in the inclusive classroom, talking with students and parents to create goals and to make other instructional decisions, and planning and creating curricula with all team members including occupational therapists, physical therapists, social workers, psychologists, and administrators.
Bringing educators together to brainstorm and plan is one of the best techniques that can be used to support all learners.
Reading Assessment and Instruction for All Learners (Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy)
In one school, a large multi-disciplinary team met often to consider how students with very different abilities and challenges might be educated together successfully. When asked to examine a second grade classroom and share ideas, each member of the team was able to provide suggestions to help some or all of the students. The occupational therapist suggested that all students should have more comfortable seating during the literacy block which was often ninety minutes ; she then helped the teacher create a reading corner complete with pillows, upholstered footstools, and a few inflatable cushions.
The social worker suggested that the teachers bring more Mexican and Mexican-American themed literature into the classroom to interest four students who were new immigrants. And the speech therapist gave the teacher a few laptop keyboards to try with students who were reluctant to write their own stories because of difficulties in handwriting and organization.
In working together, the team was able to construct a variety of supports that helped all students make impressive gains in their literacy learning. Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy Series.
Paratore, Jeanne R. Showcasing assessment practices that can help teachers plan effective instruction, this book addresses the real-world complexities of teaching literacy in grades K Leading contributors present trustworthy approaches that examine learning processes as well as learning products, that yield information on how the learning environment can be improved, and that are conducted in the context of authentic reading and writing activities.
The volume provides workable, nuts-and-bolts ideas for incorporating assessment into instruction in all major literacy domains and with diverse learners, including students in high-poverty schools and those with special learning needs. It is illustrated throughout with helpful concrete examples.
Related Reading Assessment and Instruction for All Learners (Solving Problems in the Teaching of Literacy)
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