No one likes feeling alone. Remind your learners that there are several brilliant and successful people with learning and physical disabilities!
My goal was to do a blog on teaching tips for working with adults with learning differences. In the process, I found several things that sounded really interesting. Unfortunately, they have very little to do with each other. I apologize for the randomization of this post, but I’m sure you’ll find something that makes this blog worth reading.
First, if you are curious if your student has a learning difference, consider whether he or she has difficulty with: (suggested by Scholastic.com).
- Manipulating sounds in words. For example: change the first sound in pat to /b/ (forming bat)
- Rhyming (cat, sat, mat) or recognizing words that begin with the same sound (cat and car)
- Learning basic letter-sound correlations (the letter “a” makes the /aah/ sound)
- Breaking down words into sounds (not able to say that “cat” is /k/ /aah/ /t/)
- Blending sounds to form words (when told /k/ /aah/ /t/, cannot easily put sounds together to say “cat”)
- Noticing when she skips words in a sentence
- Remembering words she has learned or needing to re-sound them out each time
- Reading in chunks with a “conversational” voice (as opposed to reading word by word
If you’re still curious, you can check out this site that lists signs and characteristics.
Next, try different techniques when working with your student. Start by w i d e n i n g the space in between letters. A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences found that widening the space between letters in words increased the reading speed and average accuracy of 74 Italian and French children with dyslexia. There has also been research to show that self-paced online learning works well for students with learning differences because they have increased time without peer pressure.
Finally, have your student check out Friends of Quinn. Friends of Quinn is a new social network for young adults with learning differences and is the first of its kind. Here are some of the cool things about this site (According to Quinn himself)
- It’s the first website to use the “dyslexie” font, a new font that was created to help people with dyslexia read and write better. The font’s designer, Christian Boer, has dyslexia. Christian is a great example of “owning it.” Rather than letting dyselxie get the better of him, he turned it into a strength.
- It’s more visual. People with learning differences learn differently. So we’re using lots of videos and photos to tell stories on the site. I’m posting a video series where I interview adults with LDs who have succeeded in life. I found a way to combine my interest in film and in journalism!
- Most importantly, it’s more social. If you are a friend, a parent or somebody “living with it,” you can use the Friend Finder feature to find other people with similar interests — whether it is in knowing more about dyslexia or being a big fan of science fiction movies. This site feature helps bring people who live with LDs together. You can even find people who live near you.
I was reading the Council for Learning Disabilities quarterly forum and found an excellent article called “5 ways to increase student participation in the secondary classroom”. While this focuses on younger students, several of these techniques can be practiced in the adult education classroom. Here are a few excerpts and ideas from the article!
Given the link between high levels of participation and academic progress, educators must provide multiple means for all students to actively participate in class. These five tips can be used to foster student participation in classrooms.
1. Carefully plan lessons
Students with LD benefit from direct and systematic instruction (Jitendra, Edwards, Sacks, & Jacobson, 2004), which requires teachers to place greater emphasis on the modeling and guided practice portions of the lesson. Furthermore, research has indicated a positive correlation between high levels of correct responding throughout the lesson phases and increased achievement.
2. Embrace technology
Technology provides an outlet to foster active participation, ensuring that each student has the opportunity to participate. Some options include the use of (a) response tools, (b) virtual learning environments, and (c) social media outlets.
3. Develop self-efficacy through choice and differentiation
Students with LD have reported lower academic self-efficacy than their nondisabled peers (Lackaye, Margalit, Ziv, & Ziman, 2006). Students with low self-efficacy may view their own deficits in performance as an indication of their lack of intelligence (Ramdass & Zimmerman, 2008). Students’ beliefs about their capabilities affect their investment in, and persistence regarding, schoolwork (Linnenbrink & Pintrich, 2003). For some adolescents with LD, poor performance on academic tasks may be less about skills and more about the ability to manage their own learning (Klassen, 2010). To boost self-efficacy, teachers can use differentiated questioning throughout lessons to fully engage students at every academic level within the classroom (Friend & Bursuck, 2008).
4. Facilitate cooperative learning groups
Cooperative learning assigns students to small groups for collaboration to complete group activities. Create cooperative groups to include students of mixed abilities who have a common goal. During the planning stages, purposefully and explicitly teach students procedures for cooperative grouping to achieve success. Assign each student a responsibility within the cooperative group, such as recorder, reader, accuracy coach, summarizer, or leader.
The key to selecting content for cooperative learning is to include curricular material that has already been introduced to students but requires additional knowledge and practice to meet objectives, rather than requiring initial mastery through groupings (Friend & Bursuck, 2008).
5. Implement self-monitoring procedures
Self-monitoring, an effective strategy that can increase student participation and/or assist teachers and students with monitoring responses, is a tool that shifts the responsibility from the teacher to the student (King-Sears, 2008). Teaching students to self-monitor is an on-going process that requires frequent feedback, evaluation from teachers, and possibly reevaluation of goals and progress. Teachers should work collaboratively with students who under- or over respond to set goals for a predetermined period of time or for a class block.