Learning Disabilities and How to Teach to students who have them by Karen Plumb
What is a learning disability?
In general students who have learning disabilities demonstrate difficulty with some or all of these skills and abilities with some consistency over a period of time:
- receptive language skills (listening, reading);
- language processing skills (thinking, conceptualizing, integrating);
- expressive language skills (talking, spelling, writing);
- socio-emotional maturity;
- ability to sustain attention.
Does Your Student require support in the following areas?
- understanding and following directions;
- interpretation of language and/or extent of vocabulary;
- reading, comprehension, and mathematics;
writing, spelling, grammar, and/or oral - - -expression of language;
- organizing and sequencing thoughts and ideas;
- the social use of language;
- consistent performance;
- strategies for reception, storage, and production of information;
- long- and/or short-term memory;
- focusing attention and/or initiating tasks and sustaining concentration;
- generalizing learning or transferring skills/knowledge from one setting to another;
- producing answers in spite of mastery of content;
- solving problems and/or dealing with multiple tasks;
- social skills;
- self-esteem and/or anxiety.
What is Differentiated Instruction?
Differentiated Instruction is when the teacher is able to differentiate his/her teaching according to - content (what the students learn); process (activities the students do); and product (the outcome based on the learning)! Teachers should tailor the teaching plan to specific students based on the students’ needs, strengths and weaknesses. The teacher needs to change the focus of his/her teaching to student based pedagogy by making accommodations and modifications to meet the needs of the student. This enables the teacher to incorporate the interests of the students into his/her lesson and teach to the different levels of ability in the classroom.
Some general teaching strategies for students with Learning Disabilities include:
- Use visual cues, concrete examples, and outlines for the lessons
- goal setting; adjust the learning goals to suit the ability of the student
- check in with the student regularly
- praise and rewards for good effort and improvement
- allow short breaks for those who have difficulty with attention
How Do I Teach Social skills?
- provide opportunities for positive self expression
- teach students how to initiate, maintain and conclude a conversation
How Do I Teach Good Organization Skills?
- encourage the use of lists and personal planning organizers
- help the student with time management
- use outlines
How Do I Teach based on Motivation?
- provide opportunities for co-operative learning
- encourage checking his/her own work
- involve the student with the format of an assignment