Learning Disabilities and Strategies Used
Studies that were conducted over the past few years concerning learning disabilities and some of the ways the special needs children can be made to improve in that line. The special education teachers have been undergoing extensive cases of training as they prepare to be at par with the growing needs of the children who have learning disabilities. Learning disability is an issue which can be corrected, and that means it is not permanent as some researchers claim. There is a difference that exists between the existing learning strategies and the channels via which the teachers are using while in the classroom. Some research-based approaches have been found to be applicable but implementing them is still an issue. Therefore, it is fundamental to concentrate on the learning disabilities and also lay down some of the strategies that practitioners can use to ensure that the lessons they teach the students can be comprehended as the lesson plans depict.
The importance lies in need to grasp a better understanding of what is meant by having a learning disability (Joseph, 2006). Some people usually are in the right state of mind but still face some difficulties when it comes to learning. In that case, a learning disability can be termed or defined to be a disorder which is connected to the psychological process of an individual, and they make him, or she loses an understanding when it comes to language, which is written or spoken. Therefore, the disorder manifests itself by causing one to display an inability to think, write, read, listen or even spell some of the most straightforward words when it comes to language and handling mathematical calculations (Joseph, 2006). In the year 2011, there was a research conducted to find out the number of children who were facing a learning disability. The results showed that about 13% of the children who were in the public schools under investigation had the disorder. Most of them had difficulty concerning reading and retaining the information that has been obtained from the materials.
Denton and Otaiba (2011) state that there is always an urgency when it comes to teaching children who have the learning disabilities. They add that students who have difficulties in reading and writing should not be combined with those who are in their right states of mind. This is because most of them tend to find it difficult to carry out tasks in other academic areas and the embarrassment that they face can lead to many of them dropping out of school. There are others who opt to engage in crime and even commit suicide since they do not bear characteristics that are similar to the rest (Denton & Otaiba, 2011). In that case, the teachers are supposed to bear all the skills needed to handle students with such difficulties. They have to be in a position of ensuring that the lessons plan that they have will make the students to attain a better state of being able to read and write. Research-based strategies happen to be the best option because the students have different levels of disability. The kind of instructions posed to the students should be general, and each of them should be provided with the ability to grasp them immediately.
Mots and Tolman (2009), conducted a study to find out the prevalence of learning disabilities among students in various schools and homes. They found out that over 6.4 million children in American public schools are under the Individuals with Disabilities Act (IDEA). This was a clear indication that many people always have difficulties when it comes to learning. This number was about 42% of all those who were studied. The remaining percentage represented those who were normal and did not show any form of disability of the mind or any that had a connection to learning. They also found out that most people who have learning disabilities tend to find it difficult to read and even to understand the kind of information that they obtain from the reading materials. Such people usually have a deficit when it comes to recognition of words which is in most cases phonological. The population of students that are suffering from the learning disabilities is mostly children, and they are in the vulnerable age bracket. The children were found to have average intelligence, and that was the reason why the disability was affecting the brain and also had an impact on the time they take to process information, communicate it and even respond to a given issue.
The National Centre for Learning Disabilities (NCLD) (2014) states that are ways in which one can notice a student who has a learning disability depending on the characteristics that they portray. The organization reports that the most noticeable feature is the fact that such students tend to perform poorly in school, at home and also while they are in the working environment (NCLD, 2014). The moment one has the learning disability, he or she becomes unable to read, spell or even do any math. The most appropriate way to identify out whether a student has a learning disability is by incorporating a group of people who are always in connection with him or her. In this case, the parents, professionals, teachers, and psychologists employed by the school can be the primary participants. The team is supposed to observe the particular student then come up with a noted data. The data is supposed to show whether he or she is responding to the learning material as they are presented and whether they are behaving like the one that comes from those who are used as control specimen or objects.
According to the National Reading Panel (2000), there are about five components concerning reading. The panel carries out studies to find out some of the difficulties that arise while the teachings are educating the children on how to read. The board surveyed in the year 2000, and they found out that there are better ways of coming up with a lesson plan that will be comprehended by the students who have a learning disability. They made a review of about 100,000 studies which were used to solicit input in that line. They then realized that the best way to make the student with learning disabilities to learn is by making them read instructions that involve phonemic structures. The reason behind this was that they found them to be full of fluency and they would learn how to increase the vocabulary that they had and also have a better level of comprehension. The students need a specialized form of attention, and that means the kind of method used should allow them to portray an improving standard of studies (National Reading Panel, 2000).
Swanson and Vaughn (2010) state that the five levels of reading among the students with a disability are fluency, comprehension, phonemic awareness, vocabulary and alphabetical principal (phonics). These are the most important when it comes to students who have had difficulties in reading and grasping most of the things that are presented to them. Phonemic is a reading where the students are made to develop an understanding that whatever they speak can be written down or made to be in the form of smaller segments which can be referred to as phonemes.
In English, phonemes are known to form the smallest unit of all sounds. The students will, therefore, learn to identify the sounds that their first names produce and use the skills to read other similar words. The similarities in the sounds make the students identify or become aware of the phonemic awareness that boosts their learning skills (Swanson & Vaughn, 2010). The awareness, in this case, places them in the position of hearing all sorts of sounds which are not supposed to be confused with each other. This strategy has been found to apply to people who are mentally ill and would want to restore themselves to the normal state of mind.
Kuhn (2005) focuses on fluency as the other strategy that can be used by teachers to ensure that the students who have a learning disability can grasp or comprehend what they are taught. Fluency is a component of reading, and it comes after phonics. Students with a learning disability are supposed to be fluent as they are reading since they will be familiar with the phonics. Fluency can be defined as the ability that one possesses and helps in recognizing words without any form of inaccuracy. One who is fluent can be said to have the ability to read an article with a lot of expressions and also exhibits a particular kind of intonation.
One who is fluent can comprehend all the information presented in an article. Teachers are supposed to come up with a plan that exclusively teaches the students on how to become fluent as they are reading. Students with learning disabilities are commonly known to lose concentration whenever they are subject to an area that has reading materials (Kuhn, 2005). In that case, they are supposed to be exposed to fluency as it acts as a glue that brings together all the skills needed in reading. In the long run, one gains the ability to concentrate and get the meaning out of any form of reading.
Stanovich and Stanovich (2003), claim that the use of research-based strategies to teach students with learning disabilities has been proven and found to be the most effective. The No Child Left Behind Act of 2001 has a provision for the use of research-based strategies that help students to be able to read and write while still at a tender age. In the same way, they can be used to help students with learning disabilities to be able to reach milestones. For a strategy to be proven to be research-based and appropriate for the teachers, it has to bear empirical evidence and also tested in some classrooms. Furthermore, such approaches are supposed to bear a wide range of data analysis which should also be valid and reliable at the same time. The peer-reviewed journal is supposed to accept the strategy too for it to be declared appropriate. Special education teachers are currently on the frontline to adjust so that they can be able to meet the requirements that have been stipulated in the Act. Students with learning disabilities have special needs, and that means each of them should be handled according to the characteristics that they portray.
The other strategy that can be used to improve the comprehension levels of the students who have learning disabilities is by utilizing the FISH strategy (Whitaker et al., 2006). This technique works on the notion of onset instructions that are posed to the students who have a learning disability. The method applies to students who are at their third grade level of education since they are believed to have the ability to grasp instructions and follow them accordingly. The strategy involves first finding the rime. The next step is to make the students be in a position of identifying the rime and all the other words that have the same kind of rime. In short, they are supposed to come up with a word that belongs to the same family.
Next, they are supposed to be able to hook an onset of the sound or the letter that begins in the family that had been identified. This strategy is applicable especially when a teacher wants the student to be able to identify a word which has been newly introduced (Whitaker et al., 2006). Students with learning disabilities are supposed to make use of this strategy so that they can be able to read regardless of the condition in which they are.
Noltemeyer, Joseph, & Kunesh (2013) state that drill and practice is the other useful strategy that special education teachers can use to enable students with learning disabilities to comprehend the lessons. This approach involves educating the essay writer students on phonics by making them repeat drills and also practice spelling using flashcards. The research was conducted, and it found out that this strategy can work if the students involved have difficulties when it comes to word recognition. This technique enables the students to recognize and learn more new words in the short span of time. Students who have a learning disability are supposed to be taught on how to memorize whatever they have learned after a given period. The fundamental idea, in this case, is repetition and retention of the words that are provided in the drill. Whenever the teacher wants the students to learn new skills, he or she can use the drill and practice method to achieve success. The strategy does not need the teacher to create an extra time as the first few drills are always enough and can be grasped easily.
Felton (2013) proposes that the other strategy that can be used by the special education teachers is letter sound association. This technique is appropriate because it provides the students with the ability to create a connection between letters and the sounds that they produce. For instance, young children are taught how to read by singing the alphabets songs and establishing a relationship between the shapes and letters that they see. In the same way, students who have a learning disability can be trained on how to read by using the same technique. Students who have a learning disability might not be able to identify letter names and also associate them with sounds. In that case, making them sing can be a better retention mechanism.
Coombs and Edwards (2014) propose the use of choral reading as the best mechanism when it comes to teaching students with learning disabilities. This is a technique that has been found to be applicable especially among those who are slow learners and are not able to read on their own. The method involves the students reading a given text or word together aloud. The strategy is mostly applicable when the group of students is small. The approach models the students to be able to read a passage continuously with few breaks or stoppages. The struggling readers can use this technique as they get support from the teacher and the other students who can read better.
Echo reading is also a strategy that has been applicable while educating students who have a learning disability (Griffin & Appel, 2009). This technique involves the loud reading of words and then correcting the areas that have mistakes. The student is now allowed to read the same passage or text aloud while doing an echo of what they have heard. The reader is supposed to use the finger or a pointer while reading so that the student can be able to identify the text that they are about to read. In this way, the student will be doing the process of learning the words instead of just reading or repeating whatever they heard or came from an adult reader.
Koralek and Collins (1997) is the notion that the echoing technique applies to a small group of people only. In this case, the teacher is the one that acts as the reader and students who have a learning disability are supposed to repeat the same. The other way in which this technique can be done is by making the students work in pairs in that they read the text together and or even repeat after the other. The pairing technique works when a student who has a learning disability is paired with one who does not have the problem. The first student is supposed to be good in phrasing and should possess the ability to recognize the punctuation marks before the other one echoes it in the same way.
The special education teachers are supposed to be committed when it comes to providing the right information to the students. They should bear the aspects of paying attention to what the students want and also being in the position to figure out whether they are improving or not. In that case, they need to have a checklist that enables them to make a clear depiction of the progress (Rasinski, Homan & Biggs, 2009). The teachers need to realize that the students are not permanently disabled and practice can be the best way to take them to the normal state of mind. In most case, such students tend to lose concentration quickly, and that means the mechanism used in teaching them should be more engaging so that they can maintain focus on a single stance.
Paring a group of students works better as compared to when each of them is working with a teacher. The work of the teacher should be to record the findings in the checklist after the partners have finished carrying out the task assigned to them. When students are paired together, they are likely to correct each other especially when they go wrong, and that is one of the ways the students will be able to develop their qualities when it comes to the disabilities that they have. All the strategies that special education teacher chooses to use depend on the response that comes from the student. Some students will respond faster while others will take a long time to meet the goals and plans of the teacher. Therefore, students who have a learning disability can be helped by first understanding them then later on applying the various strategies that are at their disposal.
Coombs, D. & Edwards, M. (2014). Making Reading Accessible for Struggling Readers. Council of the International Reading Association. Retrieved from Utah: http://utahreading.org/index.php?page=making-reading-accessible-for-strugglingreaders
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