Methods for teaching vocabulary to students with Learning Disabilities

Methods for teaching vocabulary to students with Learning Disabilities

The average student learns between 2000 and 4000 new words each year. That is approximately 40-50 new words each week! Students with learning disabilities will learn less each year than their peers due to the struggles they face in reading, writing and memory processing while learning. With these learning challenges in mind, teachers and parents will need to provide a range of experiences with new vocabulary so that students with learning disabilities can learn just as many new words as their peers in meaningful ways.

Learning a new word can actually create an interest and an excitement in many students. The focus should be on providing a meaningful explanation of the new word with multiple examples provided by the teacher and parent.

Although many strategies are effective for students with varying abilities, the following methods work best:

1. Present the word in the context of the story or text from which the word was selected.

2. Ask students to repeat and write the word.

3. Provide a “student-friendly” explanation of the word by using every day language that the student can understand and connect with.

4. Personalize the word to the student that includes references to “you,” “something,” and “someone” to help the student make a personal connection with their own lives.

5. Have students create their own examples of the word.

6. Students will need to say and read the word repetitively to establish a link to its phonological representation.

Really learning and comprehending a vocabulary word requires frequent and repetitive exposure by hearing others using it, seeing it in print, and saying it aloud in a sentence. Students with learning disabilities will require ongoing exposure and use of new words to assure that they understand and retain the meaning and use of the words. It takes 12 encounters with a word to learn it well enough to improve reading comprehension!

Using Mnemonics or Key Word Strategies are a key method of assisting students with learning disabilities in memorizing the definitions of new words. Students with learning disabilities benefit from connections created by linking a familiar key word or image with a novel word. For example with the word ROCOCO (asymmetric ornamentation in art) a mnemonic might be: “Rococo you arrange and decorate coconuts in a row.”

Students with learning disabilities should also listen to audio books regularly. Audio books will help expand the student’s listening vocabulary. Later, if the student runs into the same language in print, they will be better able to decipher the word and its meaning by having already had the exposure to it beforehand.

Although the amount of words that students need to learn may seem daunting, promoting student engagement with text is the most important way to increase vocabulary, and most importantly, leads to increased reading comprehension. Simply put, the amount that students read is related to the number of words they know and, in turn, allows them to read and understand increasingly complex text.

 

Learn more about the New PRIDE Reading Program

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Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder of PRIDE Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. Visit the PRIDE Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com

The Reading Process: Research supported teaching strategies

The Reading Process: Research supported teaching strategies

Reading is a highly complex, integrated activity that daunts as many as 33 percent of the population.  Many children become proficient readers regardless of how they are taught.  However, for children who experience difficulty learning to gain meaning from print, reading must be systematically and carefully taught.  Mastering the following components of the reading process is essential if students are to become proficient readers.

Appreciation and enthusiasm for reading

It comes as no surprise that children who are passionate about reading are more skillful readers.  Reading is more exciting to students when they are:

Read to frequently

Allowed to choose their reading material

Exposed to a wide variety of interesting reading materials

Phonemic awareness

Successful reading depends upon understanding that words are composed of individual sounds.  Children need direct teaching in the skills of breaking words into their component sounds and in blending individual sounds together into words.  Phonemic awareness is one of the most important skills upon which early reading depends.  Children who have poorly developed phonemic awareness skills are at great risk for becoming poor readers.

Phonics and Decoding

Letters of the alphabet are a code representing the sounds in words.  Reading involves “decoding” or translating written words into their spoken equivalents.  The early stage of decoding instruction emphasizes the correspondence between individual letters or pairs of letters (such as “oa”) and the sounds they represent.  Later reading instruction stresses rapid identification of larger units such as syllables.  Identifying larger phonetic elements is termed structural analysis.  Once a student learns the correspondence between sounds and print, he or she has become a proficient decoder.

Fluent, Automatic Reading of Text

However, in order to become an efficient reader, the decoding process must become fast and accurate.  When decoding is efficient, attention and memory processes are available for comprehending what is being read.  Reading fluency training is vital for strengthening a student’s comprehension skills.  Children should have ample practice reading material that is not difficult for them to decode.  This level is referred to as the “independent reading level.”  Frequent reading of material at a child’s independent reading level builds automatic word recognition and frees up a child’s mental abilities for comprehension.

Background Knowledge

Comprehension depends heavily on a student’s knowledge of the world.  Therefore, the skill of reading comprehension begins to develop long before children enter school.  Children who have more experiences of all types, have more background knowledge upon which to base their understanding of written material.  Parents help their child develop reading skills when they visit the museum, the park and even the store.  Parents and teachers should also read to students in order to help them create a stockpile of information that will facilitate reading comprehension.  The best reading instruction teaches a student to access background knowledge while reading.

Vocabulary

Comprehension depends on having a large vocabulary.  Children who read widely learn word meanings at a faster rate than children whose reading is more limited either in scope or quantity. During their school years, children should be learning several thousand new words per year.  Most of these words are learned by reading.

Written Expression

Reading and writing are two sides of the same coin.  Effective reading instruction must include training in expressing one’s thoughts in writing.  Children should be given daily practice in organizing and expressing their knowledge through writing.  This builds their ability to decode and comprehend the thoughts of other writers.

 

The key to helping students who experience difficulty in learning to read is to identify a student’s specific reading problems and devise programs which capitalize upon a student’s unique learning strengths.  A curriculum that focuses on specific, appropriate, and practical learning strategies will best help students become proficient, efficient and independent readers.

An appropriate literacy goal for all students should be that each is fully able to use reading as a springboard for independent, critical thought and expression.  Reading fuels the highest levels of the thinking process.  Good readers are armed with tools to become strong thinkers.

 

Learn more about the New PRIDE Reading Program

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Dr. Kari Miller is a board certified educational therapist and director of Miller Educational Excellence, a full-service educational therapy facility in west Los Angeles.

You can visit her website at  www.MillerEducationalExcellence.com or email her at klmiller555sbcglobal.net

 

 

 

Classroom Accommodations for students with Learning Disabilities

Classroom Accommodations for students with Learning Disabilities

 

Once a child has been formally tested and diagnosed with a learning disability, it is imperative for the parent to request accommodations for that child’s specific needs within the classroom.  Appropriate accommodations should be written into a student’s IEP.  Listed below are some suggested ways to aid students with learning disabilities.

 

Testing

 

1.  Conduct a class review session before the test – Teachers can provide the student with a study guide with key terms and concepts as well as model the answers for the student.  Students with learning disabilities need clear and concise directions and want to know exactly what is expected from them.  It is beneficial to the student to know ahead of time the purpose of the test.  What will the examiner/tester be looking for?

 

2.  Oral testing:  Tests can be read out loud to the student or provided pre-recorded on audio version.   The student can also be allowed to give the answers orally.

 

3.  Read the instructions for the test out loud: A student with a learning disability often gets nervous and might mix up instructions or take longer to process the directions.  Before beginning the exam it would be beneficial to make sure that the student understands what to do on each part of the exam.

 

4.  Unlimited time: Students with learning disabilities may need extra time completing tasks.  It takes them a lot longer to read the questions, compose the answer in their head, and get it down on paper.  The student can come in before class, return after school or use study periods to finish a test.

 

5.  Fill in the blank test questions: Students with learning disabilities may have a difficult time remembering new words and may be nervous about spelling these words correctly.  The vocabulary words can be listed at the top of the exam or a list of possible answers can be printed on the test.

 

6.  Multiple choice questions: The volume of reading required for a multiple choice question test is overwhelming for a student with learning disabilities.  If possible this type of testing should be avoided.

 

7.  Essay Questions: The teacher can let the student know the main idea of the question the day before the test.  This gives the student an opportunity to begin organizing information for the question at home.  The essay portion can be corrected on content and content alone.  Spelling errors, grammatical errors and writing mechanics can be ignored.

 

8.  Test Booklets – Students may be permitted to record answers directly into the test booklet instead of recording answers on a separate sheet.

 

9.  Grade on Content – Teachers can ignore spelling mistakes on all types of testing and grade on content only, not mechanics.

 

The BEST type of testing for a student with a learning disability is to draw a line from the question to the answer.

 

Weekly Spelling Tests

 

For those students struggling with spelling, these tests should not be graded.  The student can complete their spelling homework and take the test along with the rest of the class but the teacher might want to put either a smiley face or a stamp on the test and leave it ungraded.  This way the student is still exposed to the spelling.  It also helps the student feel included in the classroom and keeps the self-esteem high.

 

Oral Reading

 

For students struggling with reading, they should not be forced to read out loud in front of the class.  This will cause extreme embarrassment for the student.  If this is necessary (class play, skit, etc.) the student should be warned ahead of time and shown exactly which passage they will have to read so that they can practice it ahead of time.  If the student raises their hand and wants to read – then of course the student can be given that opportunity.

 

For students who read below expected levels, audio books, talking books, educational videos and films can help provide the general information that the student is unable to acquire from the textbook.

 

Homework:

 

Teachers can accept dictated homework.  On assignments that require a lot of writing (summaries, book reports, essays, projects, etc.) students can dictate and the parents can act as a scribe.

 

Note taking:

 

For Students with memory problems or difficulty taking notes, a fellow student might share notes; the student might tape the lesson; or the teacher might provide a copy of the lesson outline.

 

Teachers can reduce copying by providing information or activities on handouts or worksheets.

 

Technology:

 

The student should be allowed to use any technology tools that the parent is willing to buy to work around their challenge areas.

 

For students with short-term memory problems (e.g., the student understands math processes, but has short term memory problems that interfere with remembering math facts) a table of facts or a calculator could be provided.

 

For students whose handwriting is slow, illegible and includes many reversals an audio recorder or a computer with word processing software could be used for written work.

 

Seating:

 

Place the student close to the teacher, whiteboard, or work area and away from distracting sounds, materials, or objects.

 

 

_______________________________________________________________________________________

Karina Richland, M.A. is the Founder and Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County.  Ms. Richland is a certified reading and learning disability specialist.   Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications.  You can reach her by email at karina@pridelearningcenter.com or visit the Pride Learning Center website at: www.pridelearningcenter.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How does a child with a learning disability learn best?

By Karina Richland, M.A., E.T.

The most effective teaching method for children with learning differences is a multisensory approach.  Multisensory teaching utilizes all the senses to relay information to the students.  The teacher accesses the auditory, visual, and kinesthetic pathways in order to enhance memory and learning.  For example, when learning the vowel combination “oa” the student might first look at it and then have to trace the letters in the air while speaking out loud.  This combination of listening, looking, and moving around creates a lasting impression for the student as things will connect to each other and become memorable.

Multisensory learning started back in the 1920s by Dr. Samuel Orton at the Mobile Mental Health Clinic in Iowa. Dr. Samuel Orton, one of the first to recognize dyslexia in students, suggested that teaching the “fundamentals of phonic association with letter forms, both visually and kinesthetically presented and reproduced in writing until the correct associations were built up,” would be the best learning approach for students of all ages. Dr. Orton had his patients trace, copy, and write letters while saying their corresponding sounds and associations.  Today this method is known as multisensory learning.

Children with dyslexia often struggle with auditory and/or visual processing.  They have trouble recalling words and how they are pronounced.  This means that they do not comprehend the roles that sounds play in words.  These children have difficulties rhyming words as well as blending sounds together to form words.  Dyslexic children do not understand or acquire the alphabetic code or system expected of them in the primary grades.  If a child with dyslexia is given a task that uses just hearing and vision, without drawing upon other senses, the student will be at a disadvantage.  When taught with a multisensory approach, children will learn alphabetic patterns and words by utilizing all pathways – hearing (auditory), seeing (visual), touching (tactile) and moving (kinesthetic).

Dyslexic students do not need more of the same instruction in class but a different type of instruction.  They need to learn basic language sounds and the letters that make them, starting from the very beginning and moving forward in a gradual step by step process.  For all of this to “stick” they need to do this by using their eyes, ears, voices, and hands.

CHINESE PROVERB

Tell me, and I will forget.

Show me, and I may remember.

Involve me, and I will understand.

________________________________________________________________________________

Karina Richland, M.A., E.T. is the Managing Director of Pride Learning Centers, located in Los Angeles and Orange County. A former teacher for Los Angeles Unified School District, Ms. Richland is a reading and learning disability specialist. Ms. Richland speaks frequently to parents, teachers, and professionals on learning differences, and writes for several journals and publications. You can reach her by email at: info@pridelearningcenter.com or visit the Pride Learning Center website at:

www.pridelearningcenter.com

Becoming An Effective Advocate Means Knowing What To Do, How To Do It, And What Your Rights Are

By Nam Waldman, Esq.

A BOOK OF EDUCATIONAL LAW IN CALIFORNIA IS ACCESSIBLE AND FREE TO PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.

Children, adolescents and young adults need to learn to become effective advocates independent of their parents. Children can and do learn advocacy skills by seeing effective advocacy modeled by a parent. When parents return home discouraged after attending a school meeting, children may not be inspired to learn effective methods of dealing with their responsibility for self-advocacy. Once children leave high school, they must advocate for themselves, and IEP meetings do not continue indefinitely throughout life.
With adequate preparation, time and effort, a parent can partner with an advocate to work towards immediately change the educational environment for children with disabilities. In the long term, teaching advocacy skills is the most appropriate use of an advocate’s time: teaching the necessary executive functioning skills of advocacy to mothers and fathers is critical so that parents can teach their children. My goals, as both an advocate and a parent, are simple: (1) to educate every child, and (2) to teach every parent I meet to become a better advocate. We are always improving as advocates. I believe that once every student becomes an effective advocate for him or herself, we will see less truancy, defiant behavior, depression, and other manifestations of discontent with the failure of social institutions to provide a basic need: education and the self respect it brings.
It is especially important for students who have left or graduated from high school to advocate effectively for themselves. After high school there is no longer an IEP team to consider and evaluate a student’s academic needs. The necessary educational services and accommodations must instead be articulated and requested by the student. It is up to older students to decide whether they want to divulge to their post-secondary schools that they have disabilities, and then to take the next steps — to identify and then request the accommodations or services they will need. By then, they will have learned from their parents how to effectively get the accommodations and educational services needed.
Every parent of a child with a disability who is a student in California has the right to receive one free book annually. It is titled A Composite of Laws, published by the California Department of Education. The book is published each year and we are currently about to see the 31st edition, containing laws enacted the previous year about special education in the State of California. It contains all sorts of wonderful resources.
In my opinion, the index in the back is the best part of the book. It contains ‘searchwords’ for quick reference, much like an encyclopedia’s index. For example, if you have a question and want to read about ‘least restrictive environment,’ all you have to do is to look up the word in the index, and turn to the pages for the information you want. Using ‘flags’ to write on — and keep your place — will help you to organize your research in A Composite of Laws. Get the book by telephoning (800) 995-4099 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. Be patient, and prepared to identify yourself as “a parent of a child with a disability” and tell the person who answers the name of the school your child attends so that you are eligible to receive a free copy (we don’t need to identify our children). Otherwise, the book is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling. You will need to provide an address so the book can be shipped to you.
Visit this link for more information from the California Department of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/pn/rc.

Nan Waldman, Esq. is a special education and disabilities consultant with 20 years of experience in the field. She is also a parent and primary caregiver of a child with disabilities, a teacher, an advocate and a lawyer.

Becoming An Effective Advocate Means Knowing What To Do, How To Do It, And What Your Rights Are.

By Nam Waldman, Esq.

A BOOK OF EDUCATIONAL LAW IN CALIFORNIA IS ACCESSIBLE AND FREE TO PARENTS OF STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES.

Children, adolescents and young adults need to learn to become effective advocates independent of their parents. Children can and do learn advocacy skills by seeing effective advocacy modeled by a parent. When parents return home discouraged after attending a school meeting, children may not be inspired to learn effective methods of dealing with their responsibility for self-advocacy. Once children leave high school, they must advocate for themselves, and IEP meetings do not continue indefinitely throughout life.
With adequate preparation, time and effort, a parent can partner with an advocate to work towards immediately change the educational environment for children with disabilities. In the long term, teaching advocacy skills is the most appropriate use of an advocate’s time: teaching the necessary executive functioning skills of advocacy to mothers and fathers is critical so that parents can teach their children. My goals, as both an advocate and a parent, are simple: (1) to educate every child, and (2) to teach every parent I meet to become a better advocate. We are always improving as advocates. I believe that once every student becomes an effective advocate for him or herself, we will see less truancy, defiant behavior, depression, and other manifestations of discontent with the failure of social institutions to provide a basic need: education and the self respect it brings.
It is especially important for students who have left or graduated from high school to advocate effectively for themselves. After high school there is no longer an IEP team to consider and evaluate a student’s academic needs. The necessary educational services and accommodations must instead be articulated and requested by the student. It is up to older students to decide whether they want to divulge to their post-secondary schools that they have disabilities, and then to take the next steps — to identify and then request the accommodations or services they will need. By then, they will have learned from their parents how to effectively get the accommodations and educational services needed.
Every parent of a child with a disability who is a student in California has the right to receive one free book annually. It is titled A Composite of Laws, published by the California Department of Education. The book is published each year and we are currently about to see the 31st edition, containing laws enacted the previous year about special education in the State of California. It contains all sorts of wonderful resources.
In my opinion, the index in the back is the best part of the book. It contains ‘searchwords’ for quick reference, much like an encyclopedia’s index. For example, if you have a question and want to read about ‘least restrictive environment,’ all you have to do is to look up the word in the index, and turn to the pages for the information you want. Using ‘flags’ to write on — and keep your place — will help you to organize your research in A Composite of Laws. Get the book by telephoning (800) 995-4099 from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. PST, Monday through Friday. Be patient, and prepared to identify yourself as “a parent of a child with a disability” and tell the person who answers the name of the school your child attends so that you are eligible to receive a free copy (we don’t need to identify our children). Otherwise, the book is $29.95 plus $5.95 shipping and handling. You will need to provide an address so the book can be shipped to you.
Visit this link for more information from the California Department of Education: https://www.cde.ca.gov/re/pn/rc.

________________________________________________________________________________
Nan Waldman, Esq. is a special education and disabilities consultant with 20 years of experience in the field. She is also a parent and primary caregiver of a child with disabilities, a teacher, an advocate and a lawyer. Nan Waldman, Esq. can be reached by email at  n.waldman.esq@gmail.com.

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