Resource for the Identification and Teaching of Students

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Resource for
the Identification
and Teaching
of Students
with Specific
Learning Disability
Department of Education,
Student Services (Anglophone)
P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 5H1
(506) 453-2816 November 1999
Acknowledgements
The Department of Education wishes to
acknowledge the contribution of the following
people toward the development of this
document. Their time, effort, and sharing of
expertise is highly valued.
Kate McLellan (Chair)
Consultant for Students with Exceptionalities,
Department of Education
Joan Hogan
APSEA Supervisor for Hearing Impaired,
Department of Education
Ed Jones
Supervisor of Student Services,
School District 16
Susan McConnell
LD Consultant, Resource Teacher,
School District 6
Kaye Eagen
Resource Teacher, Magnetic Hill School,
School District 2
Mary Hooper
Resource Teacher, St. George Elementary,
School District 10
Copyright Ownership
Care has been taken to trace ownership of copyright
material contained in this resource book. Any
information that will allow the New Brunswick
Department of Education to rectify any reference or
credit in subsequent editions would be gratefully
received by the Consultant for Students with
Exceptionalities, New Brunswick Department of
Education, P.O. Box 6000, Fredericton, N.B.
E3B 5H1
2
Introduction
Purpose
The Department of Education supports the
inclusion of children with exceptional needs into
the regular classroom setting. However, the
identification of specific learning patterns, as
well as specific strengths and needs, is needed in
order to purposefully plan for the variety of
diverse learners in our classrooms.
Since students with Specific Learning Disability
make up approximately five to fifteen percent of
any population, the Department of Education
recognizes the need to provide practical
information for teachers with regard to the
characteristics associated with Specific Learning
Disability, and information regarding practical
teaching methods and strategies for addressing
the needs of these specific learners.
This document has been developed in response
to this need. It provides teachers with
background information about the characteristics
associated with various types of Specific
Learning Disability. It suggests methods for
informal and formal assessment of these students.
It presents guidelines for the development of
Special Education Plans that address the needs
of these students and suggests various resources
appropriate for their learning needs. The
document also recommends ways of
incorporating parental involvement in the
planning process.
Ultimately, the teacher of children with Specific
Learning Disability will recognize the uniqueness
of the children’s learning needs and will consider
his or her methods of presentation and
evaluation, that will allow the children to show
knowledge of the content of what is being taught
and its inherent concepts, while continuing to
stimulate the children’s average to above-average
intellectual ability. The teacher must remember
that, although these children have difficulty in
specific areas, if given the opportunity, they can
develop their creativity and knowledge to a level
consistent with the other children in their class,
although they will not always be expected to
express it in the same manner. Methods of
evaluation based on appropriate expectations are
key to addressing the needs of children with
Specific Learning Disability. Remember,
“fairness” does not mean that everyone receives
the same, what “fairness” actually means is
everyone receiving what he or she needs.
(Richard Lavoie, “How Difficult Can This Be?”)
In order to accomplish “fair” evaluation, the
teacher must embrace the philosophies inherent
in the theories of Multiple Intelligences
(Howard Gardner), Learning Styles (Dunn &
Dunn), Quantum Learning (DePorter, Reardon,
Singer-Nourie), and other preference- based
learning theories, and vary the presentation
methods, activities and evaluations to suit the
strengths of the children in the classroom.
The goal in developing methods and strategies
for children with processing deficits is to assist
them by circumventing the difficulty through
methods and presentations that use other
strength areas. In addition to this, particularly in
the early years, children with learning disabilities
often need explicit intervention, depending on
the nature of their processing difficulty.
Teachers who are sensitive to the needs of
children with Specific Learning Disability can
have significant impact on these children and
give them a positive life-long effect on their
ability to meet their potential.
Definition
Learning disabilities is a general term that refers
to a group of disorders which are due to
identifiable or inferred central nervous system
dysfunction, which may be manifested by delays
in early development and/or difficulties in any of
the following areas: attention, memory,
reasoning, co-ordination, communicating,
spelling, calculation, social competence, and
emotional maturation.
3
Learning disabilities are intrinsic to the
individual and may affect learning and behaviour
in any individual of average or above- average
intelligence.
Learning disabilities are not due primarily to
visual, hearing, motor or cognitive impairments,
or to emotional disturbance or environmental
disadvantage. Learning disabilities may arise
from genetic or bio-chemical factors or events
resulting in neurological impairment.
(Adapted from Learning Disabilities Association of
Canada definition 1988)
In other words:
Learning disabilities are not primarily the result
of
•
•
•
•
•
sensory impairment
physical challenges
developmental delay
emotional disturbance
environmental influences
Learning disabilities, Attention Deficit Disorder,
behaviour disorders, etc. can be separate or coexisting conditions. Other behavioural or
personality disorders can develop as secondary
characteristics. As such it is essential to
recognize these secondary traits as well as address
the primary difficulties.
A child with learning disabilities is one who
possesses average to above-average ability , and
often displays a discrepancy between academic
achievement and intellectual ability.
Learning Disabilities
Attention Deficit Disorder
Behavioural Disorders
4
The graphs on the following pages display typical
profiles of intellectual function and learning
patterns as seen on the Wechsler Intelligence
Scale for Children-III, for an average learner, a
slower learner, and for the child with learning
disabilities.
Average Learner: Note that the profile is
relatively even, and typically does not vary
significantly from the average range, i.e. scaled
score of 8-12.
Slow Learner: Note that the profile is relatively
even and typically does not vary significantly
from the below-average range, i.e. below scaled
score of 8.
5
Learner with Learning Disability: Two
examples are given. In the first example, the
child would score within the average range
overall, but note that the profile shows many
areas of significant strength and weakness in
both verbal and performance areas. In the
second example, the profile shows a child with
learning disabilities who also has an overall score
falling within the average range, but note the
significant weaknesses in language-related areas,
as compared to the non-verbal, performance
areas, which are much stronger.
6
Comparison: The last chart shows comparisons
among the different types of learners.
Processing Information
What is it we really ask a student to do when we
ask him or her to follow a direction or process
information to give us some sort of product?
Often we only recognize the output of any
processing task, but actually the job of processing
is much more complicated than we realize.
Consider a simple task such as asking a student
to write down spelling words as you call them
out.
Initially, there are attention factors that we need
to consider. In this situation, the student must
filter out or suppress all the unnecessary visual
information that he or she doesn’t need in order
to focus on the task. The student must be able to
look at the teacher while he or she is giving
directions, locate a pencil or pen on the desk
with his or her eyes, and find the correct place
on the page to print the spelling words. The
student must be able to ignore the colourful
posters and pictures on the wall, the movement
of a fellow-student next to him or her, or the
toys that are sitting just within visual range.
The student must also filter out all unnecessary
auditor y information that he or she doesn’t need
in order to focus on the task. The sound of a
desk moving, paper shuffling, air conditioners
rattling and the like make it difficult for the
student to focus his or her attention on the
directions or message the teacher is giving. The
student needs to be able to ignore or suppress
this auditory information and focus on the
teacher’s words.
The student also has to suppress needless tactile
or kinesthetic information . He or she needs to
focus attention on the teacher, rather than on
the itchy sweater being worn or the coldness of
the room.
Even in this initial stage of information
processing, there is more to consider than is
apparent.
7
If the student has had the ability to focus his or
her attention on the task at hand, then the brain
begins processing the information. Perception,
memory, organization, and comprehension are
intrinsic to this process.
The student, apart from visual acuity, must be
able to appropriately perceive, without
distortion, the visual information that has been
presented. Often students with a disability will
misperceive the visual information, and the
image becomes distorted or disoriented. Students
will sometimes describe the words as falling off
the page, or parts of the words as disappearing.
Often reversals, inversions and transpositions are
evident. Obviously this kind of difficulty would
send mixed messages to the brain and make
comprehension difficult.
8
Visual memor y is also a part of information
processing. The student must be able to match
the word being said to a “picture” of the word in
his or her memory. The task then remains to
translate this “picture” to written form on the
page without additions, distortions, or omissions.
This task also asks the student to perceive the
string of sounds that are being heard, without
distortion or disorientation, in the correct
sequence, and match those sounds with
vocabulary words stored in memory, in order to
comprehend and follow the directions given.
Finally, once the visual and auditory information
has been processed and the memory accessed,
the student needs to match that processing with
a motor output by remembering what it feels
like to form specific letters with pencil or pen on
a page. This last stage involves visual-motor
processing.
Once processing is complete, generally we
require some sort of output for evaluation. This
is usually verbal, as we ask the student to
respond by speaking; or, as in the case of the
spelling exercise, it is a motor output, in this case
printing or writing. Often the output reflects the
deficits in the mode of processing, the part we
can’t see.
How Difficult Can This Be?
Learning disabilities are often called the
“invisible handicap” because it is difficult for
people to understand just exactly what a student
with a learning disability sees, hears, or feels that
is different from what we would experience. It’s
easy to recognize a physical handicap, as often an
assistive device is evident, but with a learning
disability there is no device present, and children
with learning disabilities are often not
recognized as such, but rather are seen as “lazy”
or “unmotivated.” The video “How Difficult
Can This Be?,” provided with the resourcebook,
attempts to help viewers experience what it is
like to have a learning disability and therefore
understand the concept at a far deeper level.
Characteristics of Children with
Specific Learning Disability
Areas of specific learning disability can be
categorized in many ways, but, for the purposes
of this resourcebook, the following categories
will be used:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Attention deficit
Auditory-processing deficit
Visual-processing deficit
Visual-Spatial deficit (with or without motor
difficulties)
Written -expression deficit
Language deficit
Mathematics deficit
Organizational deficit
Memory deficit
(Please take the time to view the video “How
Difficult Can This Be?,” provided to each
district Supervisor of Student Services with this
resourcebook.)
9
Example of Difficulty with Visual
Processing when Reading
Try to read the following passage. Note that
letters can be off line, reversed, inverted,
transposed, or improperly spaced. What you will
experience is the same frustration a student with
a visual-processing deficit experiences when he
or she attempts to read. Obviously this type of
deficit is a detriment to the acquisition of
reading, and why many students with this type of
deficit have reading disabilities.
D u re e
e sto o the t e
y o yo m md ert h
ry f
hr e
d ll b t ruff? h ewa gi ll ydo at, a
i oa s b T er
sa b di
m bb esizeb gill yg t,
ittl n
i l
oa an b a l e o e.
e
teb e egr
W
eywan so uic ee r
ey
h n th
m
ng ass, th
onl wa lk oss e ib ge
elb wh
w d
acr th dr
to a fi
ere
e br swa llan
ut buess
th a s
s ta bgre en. B
oliv eb e
g Y t w sa
wh
unb rth edri b e? es, i a
ll.
tro
See answer key in Resource section
Example of a Language Deficit
when Reading
Read the following paragraph and answer the
questions. In this case the student’s language
deficit involves making meaning of words. His or
her ability to recognize and process structure is
intact. These students are hard to detect in a
classroom, as they may be able to complete a
fact-finding exercise, as you will see; however,
they will not have understood what they read
because they could not process the language.
10
Blix and Splox grummed blantily as they bronted
along. The cront was jilp and because of this Blix
and Splox were sniped with their bluxy drant.
1. Who were the main characters?
2. What did Blix and Splox do as they bronted
along?
3. Why were Blix and Splox sniped?
4. With what were Blix and Splox sniped?
See answer key in Resource section
Example of Difficulty with
Comprehension of Visual Material
Read the following passage silently, then read it
aloud and choose the one that makes more sense
to you. This example shows the case of students
who can read, but make no sense of what they
have read until they hear the passage read aloud.
These are the students who need information
read to them or available on tape.
Ladle Rat Rotten Hut
(heresy ladle furry starry toiling udder wartswarts welcher alter girdle defferent fimer once
inner regional verging)
Wants pawn term dare worsted ladle gull hoe lift
wetter murder inner ladle cordage honor itch
offer lodge, dock, florist. Disk ladle gull orphan
worry putty ladle rat cluck wetter ladle rat hut, an
fur disk raisin pimple colder Ladle Rat Rotten Hut.
Wan moaning Ladle Rat Totten Hut’s murder
colder inset “Ladle Rat Rotten Hut, heresy ladle
basking winsome burden barter an shirker
cockles. Tick disk ladle basking tutor cordage
offer groin murder hoe lifts honor udder site
offer…
See answer key in Resource section
Assessment
Assessment is an ongoing process involving the
collection of data for the purpose of evaluating
the performance of a student. The classroom
teacher is in the best position to provide
information on a current basis. Observation,
work samples, student portfolios, journal entries
or logs, project work, interview results, daily or
weekly tests, criterion-referenced tests such as
the provincial assessments, and standardized
tests, whether group or individual, are all valid
examples of assessment, and therefore are all
appropriate in assisting the teacher to determine
the best approach to programming for his or her
students.
Observation
To assist teachers in identifying the children who
they perceive are experiencing learning
difficulties, general observations may be made in
the classroom that are invaluable in helping to
pinpoint characteristic weaknesses and strengths.
Such observation will require the classroom
teacher to be on the lookout for common
behavioural characteristics of children with
Specific Learning Disability. Observation is the
first step in the assessment process.
Much common behaviour can be observed in
children with Specific Learning Disability. The
teacher should begin by looking for the students
who, when attempting to copy or write in class,
are often unable to form letters properly, may
start in odd places on the page, may appear to
have difficulty copying from the board, and are
generally slower than others to complete their
work. Also, the teacher should look for the
students who will regularly have difficulty
understanding what they have read and may be
unable to follow directions easily. Also, teachers
should be aware of the students who display an
inability to focus their attention for long periods
or may appear to be easily distracted. Teachers
should try to discern those children who have
difficulties related to memory. The students with
memory-processing difficulties will often display
an inability to recall information (e.g. often not
recalling concepts taught yesterday or not
recalling concepts over long periods of time).
Teachers should also observe the level of social
awareness evident in the children in their
classroom. Children with learning disabilities
often either show very dominant/aggressive
characteristics with their peers, or they appear
passive/submissive in the school environment.
Because these children have difficulty
interpreting their external environment, they
may miss or misperceive the social cues around
them. In considering these behaviours, teachers
should be careful not to misinterpret a lack of
social skills as immaturity, and vice versa.
The teacher should be aware of the children who
have difficulty finding a way out of difficult
situations to the point that they become angry or
“shut down.” Children who display these
behaviour patterns often have difficulty with
logical processing. This inability to problem
solve will also be evident in their approach to a
school task in that they may be unable to follow
a step-by-step procedure to reach a working
conclusion.
Use the observation report form in the next
section to assist you with your observations.
Work Samples
The next important step in the assessment
process is to consider samples of the children’s
output in response to a given task. This may be
presented orally, in written form, or through
movement. Children with Specific Learning
Disability often display very obvious
characteristics in their output samples.
General Language Usage
Children with learning disabilities frequently
have difficulty with the language in the
classroom. They will not readily follow oral
directions and explanations. The reading
requirements may involve vocabulary too
11
technical and well beyond the children’s
receptive language capabilities. Children with
learning disabilities may have communication
difficulties related to a weakness in their ability
to express what they feel.
Expressive Language
General language usage can be identified in
expressive-language production. Students
experiencing difficulty with expressive language
may have difficulty with word finding, often
displaying a limited oral vocabulary. They may
not be proficient at participating in conversation
with others, and therefore may appear quiet or
shy. The children’s language production may
show a tendency toward fragmented sentences,
as well as difficulties with syntax, with pronouns
and/or with verb agreement. Language
production may often contain omitted or
mispronounced words in conversation. They may
have particular difficulty answering who, what,
when, where and why questions, as the language
of questioning and the purpose of these words are
confusing to them.
Written Language
Written language is also a form of expressive
language production. Students experiencing
difficulty with written language may have
difficulty with any one of the many facets of the
task. These students will display difficulty with
expression and sequencing of thoughts and ideas,
with structure in sentences and paragraphs, and
also with word order and verb agreement.
Frequently the students’ written expressive
vocabulary will lag behind oral expressive
vocabulary. Written responses produced by these
children will tend to be very brief. Word
omissions, additions, or substitutions in the
written product will be frequent. Written
language mechanics such as capitalization and
punctuation will prove a struggle for the students
with learning disabilities who have processing
difficulties in this area.
12
Spelling
Spelling, a specific form of written language, will
point to other forms of processing difficulties.
The phonemic/graphemic association of words
required for spelling frequently causes difficulties
for students with learning disabilities,
particularly those who have auditory- processing
weaknesses. The spelling of these students will,
on a regular basis, bear no resemblance to the
correct spelling of a word. Words having
irregular spelling patterns will cause notable
difficulty for children with learning disabilities.
Spelling, particularly in daily writing, will
evidence omissions, substitutions, additions, and
rearrangements of letters or sound units. The
children will have distinct difficulty with
activities that ask them to analyse sounds in
words. These children may do well on regular
spelling lists, but there is often little or no carryover to daily work, or over time. Asking these
children to write a lengthy, end-of-a-unit
spelling test is usually courting disaster, and is,
therefore, inappropriate for them.
Math
Characteristic difficulties can also be evident in
math. Although some students with learning
disabilities may display weakness in both
language-related and math areas, some students
with learning disabilities who are very articulate
and whose oral and written language is generally
at a high level may experience processing
difficulty with math concepts. The teacher
should be particularly wary of this type of pattern
and try not to prejudge the children’s math
ability, on the basis of their language level.
Students experiencing difficulty with math will
display the processing weakness in a number of
ways. In math computation, weaknesses may be
seen in long-term memory for math facts, in
sequencing the steps in computation problems,
in organizing or lining up numbers, in
recognizing place value, in dealing with money,
time or measurement, and in estimating.
Difficulty in attending to the proper operational
sign is also often a recurring error.
In the area of the application of math concepts,
children with learning disabilities will often
choose an incorrect operation when faced with a
problem, or will often have difficulty solving
multi-step problems, and, in doing so, omit a
step or complete a step out of order.
Visual-Motor Integration/Kinesthetic
Output
Children who experience problems related to
visual-motor integration have gross and fine
motor difficulty. They will often display difficulty
with simple tasks such as tying their shoes. The
children with a weakness in visual-motor
integration will often appear clumsy and will
most likely find copying or writing a chore.
Work samples from these children will often
show inconsistency in letter formation or size.
Copying from near or far point within a
reasonable amount of time or with satisfactory
accuracy will often prove an insurmountable
task. Work will not be well organized on the
paper. The teacher will find that the move from
manuscript to cursive writing is not an easy
transition for these children.
Use the work sample report form in the next
section to assist you with your evaluation of
work samples.
Assessment Tools
Informal Reading Inventory
One very valuable form of informal assessment,
the informal reading inventory (IRI), can be
broken into components that accommodate a
teacher’s schedule. Inventories can be teachermade, using the available reading material or a
published reading series in use in the classroom.
Inventories are also available in published form,
e.g. Silvaroli.
When an inventory is administered, usually an
oral, a silent and a listening comprehension
passage are presented; however, depending on a
teacher’s schedule, these tests may be
administered at different times. An inventory
can give an approximate grade level for reading.
This option is usually available in the published
materials, but with classroom materials the
teacher is responsible for collecting and sorting
the reading material for this purpose.
A published informal reading inventory is a type
of informal assessment designed to provide the
teacher or examiner with a variety of
information regarding a student’s reading ability.
It can be used to determine the approximate
reading level at which the child is totally
comfortable; a level at which the child is
learning and therefore encounters some, but not
insurmountable, difficulties; and a level that is
too difficult for the child, and at which he or she
finds significant frustration. These levels are
referred to as the Independent Level, the
Instructional Level, and the Frustration Level.
These levels can be determined for both isolated
decoding skills and for reading in context. Some
IRI’s provide enough alternative forms to allow a
determination of an approximate listening level
as well.
Most IRI’s have a number of graded word lists.
The instructional level at which the child
operates with these lists gives an indication to
the examiner as to where to begin when
administering the graded reading passages.
Another important aspect of the graded word
lists is that they allow for an analysis of errors,
which then provides diagnostic information to
the teacher or examiner.
Most IRI’s also contain graded passages that
allow for a calculation of word accuracy in
context, for miscue analysis, and for an
evaluation of comprehension through
questioning.
As a general rule of thumb, 3-4 errors out of 20
words in a list, or approximately 90-95% word
accuracy when reading a passage is considered an
instructional level. For comprehension, the
general rule of thumb is approximately 70-75%
comprehension for an instructional level. Each
test may differ slightly, but, when using an IRI
that does not state the criterion levels, the above
percentages are adequate.
13
Graded Word List
Generally, graded word lists as contained in IRI’s,
tests such as the Brigance, or published lists such
as the Dolch have a range from kindergarten
level to grade 12.
Frequently, a significant shift occurs in the
difficulty and types of words encountered after
the third-grade level. Prior to this level, many
children rely heavily on their sight word
vocabulary. Generally, from the fourth-grade
level and on, the students are required to use
their strategies for decoding unknown words to a
greater extent. As such is the case, even though
children may do very well (independent level)
on a third-grade reading list, they may
experience frustration when attempting the
fourth-grade level list.
If this happens, the teacher can hypothesize that
a basic sight vocabulary has been established, but
more comprehensive word attack strategies have
not been developed to assist the children when
encountering new and more difficult words.
When administering word lists, the teacher
should make a check mark next to the word
when the child has read the word correctly, and
write the pronunciation of the word that has
been read if the word has been read incorrectly.
This can be later used for analysis.
When analysing the errors from a word list, the
teacher should make note of any pattern of
errors that are seen. These patterns may include,
but are not limited to, some of the following:
• Miscue is visually similar to the stimulus
word, indicating that the child is relying on
his visual memory and visual cueing system to
attack the word - e.g. “mysterious”
pronounced as “mistress.”
• Errors indicate a visual perception weakness e.g. reversals such as “drink” read as “brink,”
transpositions, such as “girl” read as “gril,”
inversions such as “want” read as “waut.”
• Errors in medial vowel sounds - e.g. “glimpse”
pronounced as “glumpse”, “haunt” pronounced
14
as “hunt” - may indicate weaknesses in
auditory analysis.
• Errors show only parts of the word have been
identified. Some children identify only the
first consonant, blend or syllable. Others may
identify the beginning and end of a word but
miss the medial portion. Be aware of where
the child is focusing his or her attention in a
word.
• Errors show difficulty with auditor y
conceptualization . These errors show that the
child has little awareness of sound
correspondence, and the word produced will
have very little relation to the stimulus word e.g. “salary” read as “serious.”
• Errors show missing or added prefixes or
suffixes - e.g. “assemble” read as “assembly,”
“evaporate” read as “evaporated.”
In general, the teacher should hypothesize as to
what strategy the children are attempting to use
when they encounter an unknown word in
isolation. Word miscues can also be analysed for
words in context. Each of the guidelines or
examples above applies, although added
semantic, pragmatic and syntactic cueing systems
are also playing a part.
This word list was read by a child in grade 6. He
was at an independent level on the third-grade
reading list and then encountered frustration
with this fourth-grade reading list. (Burns/Roe
IRI). What can you hypothesize from the pattern
of errors seen in this list?
Stimulus
cartridge
disease
disturbance
foundation
gaze
harpoon
jewel
nervous
offend
prairie
relief
remote
rumor
salary
serious
wilderness
Response
chart…..
dizzy
disturbance
foundaction
+
+
jello
+
often
pr……..
+
+
rum or
celery
serse
winderness
In the previous example, several patterns can be
noted. First, it is evident that the child is able to
identify the first few letters if not the first
syllable of the word he or she is trying to
identify. It is also evident that the child is using
the visual mode to try to interpret the unknown
word. The child identifies the first part of the
word, then focuses on one or two key consonants
and then fabricates the rest of the word around
these key consonants. This pattern is further
supported in the errors where the child “reads”
the word, but, by the inflection, one can tell that
the word is not recognized; e.g. rumor…was
read…RUM or, disturbance…..was read…DIS
tur bance. The reading of the word ”salary” as
“celery” shows that the student recognizes the
shape and key consonants of the word.
One can hypothesize from the errors on this list
that the child relies on his visual system to help
him unlock unknown words, but he or she has
few other efficient strategies to assist him or her.
Running Record
A running record is a way of observing, scoring
and analysing a child’s reading behaviour. A
running record can assist the teacher in
determining what strategies the child is using, to
which cueing system(s) the child is attending,
whether or not the reading passage is at an
appropriate level for the child, and whether or
not the child is monitoring and self-correcting as
he or she is reading.
A teacher generally sits next to the child with
the reading passage in view. Using a coding
system, the teacher records everything the child
reads. Generally a check mark is used to indicate
a word read correctly. Teachers may use their
own marking system or one such as is indicated
in Marie Clay’s book An Observation Survey of
Literacy Achievement.
Running records give an indication of word
accuracy in the form of a percentage, found by
dividing the number of correct words by the
total number of words and multiplying by 100%.
Number of words correct
x 100% =
Total number of words
A percentage of approximately 90-95% would be
considered an instructional level.
Analysis of the running record involves
examining each error or self-correction and
determining the cause of the error or selfcorrection. In each case the teacher considers
whether or not the child is using any of the four
cueing systems, i.e. graphophonic, syntactic,
pragmatic, or semantic, as he or she is reading.
The teacher also considers whether or not the
child is making predictions. (Adapted from
Teacher’s Manual for Early Success Program by
Houghton Mifflin)
Miscue Analysis
Miscue analysis is a means by which an
examiner, usually a teacher, marks and then
diagnostically analyses the oral reading of a child
on the basis of the pattern of errors. Miscue
analysis allows the teacher to hypothesize the
strategies that a child uses when he or she is
reading words in context. A word-accuracy score
can also be obtained in this manner. The
following is a suggested marking system,
although teachers may develop their own:
15
Marking:
• mispronunciation
wert
went
• substitution
want
went
on
The student attempts to pronounce the word but
produces a nonsensical word that has no meaning.
A real word is substituted incorrectly.
• insertion
sent
• omission
to school
• repetition
in the house
A word or words are repeated.
• reversal
that he saw
The word order is reversed or transposed.
• lengthy pause
to
//
The student inserts a word or a series of words that
does not appear in the text.
A word or words are omitted from the text.
The student stops for a second or more.
• successful correction
C in my house
in the roof
• unsuccessful correction
U in my house
on the roof
• meaningful substitution
T
The miscue makes sense within the context of the
sentence or story.
• prediction
P
The miscue indicates that the child is predicting as he
or she is reading.
• nonsense word
N
The miscue does not make sense whether as a
prediction or as a meaningful miscue. Usually these are
nonsense words.
The student successfully corrects a miscue.
The student attempts a correction but is unsuccessful
in producing the word.
(Adapted from manual for Burns/Roe Informal Reading Inventory)
In order to interpret properly the miscue
analysis, teachers must rely on their knowledge
of the reading process to determine what
strategies the child is attempting to use as he or
she is reading. Initially teachers should look for
the use of the semantic cueing system. In other
words, teachers should try to determine whether
or not the child is attempting to construct
meaning as he or she is reading. The use of the
semantic system will be evident in the child’s use
of meaningful substitution and prediction,
particularly when the prediction is self-corrected.
16
The use of the syntactic system is evident in
substitutions that are meaningful within a
sentence, but not necessarily within the context
of the story. The child bases his or her
predictions on the word order or sentence
pattern (syntax). Self-corrections will also be
evident in miscues that are not grammatically
correct.
The use of the pragmatic system is evident in
miscues where it is evident that the child has or
has not attended to conventions of print, such as
different forms of genres, or conventions such as
capital and lower-case letters or punctuation.
The use of the graphophonemic system will be
evident in miscues that are visually similar or
sound similar to the original word, but may not
necessarily make sense.
It is the teacher’s job to determine on which of
these systems the child is relying most heavily.
The teacher should attempt to determine if the
child is using good reading strategies, or if he or
she is a word-by- word reader who is not
attending to the context of the story.
Reading Starts with Understanding
Phonemes
Reading starts with phonemic awareness – the
ability to notice, think about and manipulate the
individual sounds in words or phonemes.
Phonemes are the smallest units of sound in our
language that can make a difference in the
meaning of a word (like cat vs. rat). From just
forty- four of these speech sounds, we create all
the words of the English language.
Phonemic awareness is an auditory skill. A child
may have satisfactory hearing but still not be
able to recognize phonemes in context.
Phonemes are much harder to interpret in noisy
situations, when they blend with other sounds,
or when they occur in a series of rapid successive
speech sounds.
Phonemic awareness is part of a broader skill set
called phonological awareness , which is the
ability to recognize and use all sizes of sound
units, such as words, syllables and phonemes.
Phonological processing, and particularly
phonemic awareness, is the primary area where
children with reading difficulties may differ from
other children.
A child is said to have a phonological-processing
problem when he or she has difficulty perceiving,
decoding, remembering and retrieving verbal
information. These auditory skills are necessary
for children learning any language, even a
language as different from English as Chinese.
Children who grasp quickly the relationships
between letters and word sounds almost always
become better readers than children who struggle
with these relationships do. Phonological
awareness is not all that a child needs to learn to
read, but it is a necessary and an integral part of
the process for most children.
Research has shown that children with a weak
awareness of sound/letter relationships and
phonology are, on average, below their peers in
reading ability. That is, those in the bottom
twenty percent of phonological awareness at the
beginning of the first grade are about two and a
half grade levels or more below their peers in
reading by the end of the fifth grade. (Adapted
from Fast ForWord – Building a Foundation for
Reading)
Phonemic awareness is not phonics. Phonemic
awareness is an understanding about spoken
language. Children who are phonemically aware
can tell the teacher that bat is the word the
teacher is representing by saying three separate
sounds in the word. They can tell the teacher all
of the sounds in the spoken word dog. They can
tell the teacher that, if the last sound were taken
off the word cart, the word would be car.
Phonics, on the other hand, is knowing the
relation between specific printed letters
(including combinations of letters) and specific
spoken sounds. The teacher is asking children to
show their phonics knowledge when asking them
which letter makes the first sound in bat or dog,
or when asking them the last sound in car or cart.
The phonemic awareness tasks that have
predicted successful reading are tasks that
demand that children attend to spoken language,
not tasks that simply ask students to name letters
or tasks that ask them to tell which letters make
which sounds. In fact, if phonemic awareness just
meant knowledge of letter/sound relations, there
would have been no need to coin a new term for
it. (From International Reading Association.
Reading Online)
The level of phonemic awareness that a child
exhibits on entering school when he or she is
faced with an alphabetic script is widely held to
17
be the strongest single determinant of the success
that he or she will experience in learning to read
– or conversely, the likelihood that he or she will
fail.
Among readers of alphabetic languages, those
who are successful invariably have phonemic
awareness, whereas those who lack phonemic
awareness are invariably struggling. Research
clearly shows that phonemic awareness can be
developed through instruction and, furthermore,
that such instruction significantly accelerates
children’s subsequent reading and writing
achievement.
Informal Tests of Information
Processing
One of the key factors in identifying the needs of
a child with Specific Learning Disability is the
identification of areas of weakness and strength,
which relate to the ways in which the child
processes visual, auditory or kinesthetic
information. Informal tests such as the
Slingerland Screening Tests for Identifying Children
with Specific Language Disability can provide
essential information for understanding the
learning needs of the child with Specific
Learning Disability. Tests such as the Slingerland
provide information on visual perception, visual
memory, visual motor processing, auditory
memory, and auditory perception. Such tests,
since they are informal, can be developed at a
district or school level, although various
published materials are available.
Once processing needs are determined, strategies
to assist children in using their processing
strengths and coping with their processing
weaknesses can be developed. Tests such as the
Slingerland are informal and therefore are not
standardized using a normative process.
However, general guidelines have been
established for their use.
Standardized Tests of Educational
Achievement
Another form of assessment tool that is critical
to the process of identifying and planning for the
needs of children with specific learning disability
is the standardized test of educational
achievement. There are many examples of this
type of test, but the ones that give the most
information relative to children with Specific
Learning Disability are tests that assess reading
decoding, reading comprehension, math
computation, math applications, and/or written
language, and have the capability of providing
information related to error analysis. Some
examples of this type of test include, but are not
limited to, Kaufman Test of Educational
Achievement, Woodcock Reading Mastery Test
–Revised, Keymath Diagnostic Arithmetic Test –
Revised.
Standardized tests of educational achievement
have been taken through a normative process
and show evidence of validity and reliability.
Formal assessment procedures employ tightly
organized test materials, structured test
situations, and group-based comparisons. These
tests often have a highly prescribed test format
and are designed to reveal data that can be
compared to that obtained on children who were
tested during the instrument’s construction.
(Guerin and Maier 1983)
In most cases, those qualified to administer this
type of test include, but are not limited to,
school psychologists, learning disabilities
specialists, educational diagnosticians, reading
specialists, clinical psychologists, remedial
reading teachers, resource and methods teachers,
counsellors, social workers, and others within the
general fields of psychology, education, and
social service who have background training in
assessment. (KTEA Manual 1985).
Other tests, such as the Wechsler Individual
Achievement Test (WIAT), are slightly more
restrictive in the qualifications of those
permitted to administer them. Usually,
individuals in educational or psychological
18
testing who have graduate level training in the use
of individually administered assessment
instruments are qualified to administer these
tests. (WIAT Manual 1990) Many resource and
methods teachers would fall into this category.
In each case it is best to consult the test manual
for reference to examiner qualifications.
Standardized tests of educational achievement
provide further information related to the
children’s level of skill development in certain
academic areas as compared to a normative
group of children, whether in the same grade or
age group. Children with learning disabilities
generally show significant lags in one or more
academic areas.
Standardized Tests of Information
Processing
Similar to informal tests of information
processing, standardized tests of information
processing, such as the Detroit Tests of Learning
Aptitude: 4, also provide information related to
visual memory, visual perception, visual-motor
processing, auditory memory, auditory perception
and kinesthetic processing. Tests such as the
Peabody Picture Vocabulary Test – III and the
Expressive Vocabulary Test provide information
on general vocabulary usage. More in-depth
language tests such as the Test of Language
Development (Intermediate or Primary): 3 provide
information related to language processing and
pragmatics. There are many of these types of
tests available, but again the examiner
qualifications are restricted.
analysis of the various subtests can help to clarify
strengths and weaknesses in information
processing. Examiner qualifications for this type
of test are the most restricted. Teachers may find
the book How to Detect Reading/Lear ning
Disabilities Using the WISC-III by Evelyn
Searls (1997) helpful in demystifying WISC-III
results.
Administration of a test of intellectual
functioning should be the last step in the
assessment process for children with Specific
Learning Disability. Having progressed from
informal assessment to formal assessment, and
having had psychologists, district personnel,
resource teachers, classroom teachers and parents
involved in a collaborative planning process, the
children should already have an educational
program designed to address their needs.
For those children whose information processing
is hindered by weaknesses related to focus of
attention, further investigation with the
assistance of a psychologist, using behaviour
related tests such as the Conners’ Rating ScalesRevised, may be warranted.
Standardized Tests of Intellectual
Functioning
In order to confirm whether or not children are
diagnosed with Specific Learning Disability, a
standardized measure to determine intellectual
potential, such as the Wechsler Intelligence Scale
for Children-III, should be completed. The results
from this testing will help determine if a
discrepancy between intellectual potential and
academic achievement is present. Furthermore,
19
Observations Report Form General
Student’s Name:
Date:
Oral Language:
Handwriting or Printing:
Copying Ability:
Focus of Attention:
Written Expression:
(Continued on reverse)
21
Problem-Solving Skills:
Social Skills/Peer Relationships:
General Classroom Behaviour
22
Observations Report Form General
Student’s Name:
Oral Language:
Handwriting or Printing:
Copying Ability:
Focus of Attention:
Written Expression:
(Continued on reverse)
Date:
Continued on reverse
Problem-Solving Skills:
Social Skills/Peer Relationships:
General Classroom Behaviour
Work Sample Report Form
Student’s Name:
Date:
Written Language
Expressing/sequencing thoughts:
Sentence/paragraph structure:
Word order/verb agreement
Expressive vocabulary:
Length of paragraphs/sentences:
(Continued on reverse)
25
Words omitted/added/substituted:
Language mechanics/pragmatics
Spelling
Phoneme/grapheme association
Regular/irregular patterns:
Letters or sound units omitted/substituted/added/rearranged:
(Continued)
26
Work Sample Report Form
Prefixes/suffixes/word endings:
Sound analysis
Spelling lists:
Spelling in daily work:
Expressive Language
Oral vocabulary:
Word finding:
(Continued)
27
Fluency in conversation:
Sentence structure/syntax:
Words omitted:
General articulation:
Comprehension of questions:
(Continued)
28
Work Sample Report Form
Math
Math facts:
Sequencing steps in computation:
Organizing numbers (lining up):
Place value:
Money:
Time:
(Continued)
29
Measurement:
Estimation:
Attention to operational signs:
Choosing the correct operation:
Solving multi-step word problems (look for omission of steps or steps out of order):
(Continued)
30
Work Sample Report Form
Visual-Motor Integration
Gross/fine motor abilities:
Handwriting/printing:
Letter formation/size/spacing:
Length of time to copy or complete:
Accuracy of copying:
Organization of work on paper:
(Continued)
31
Ease of transition from manuscript to cursive:
General Language Usage
Following directions (understanding the language of the direction):
Receptive language:
Social relations related to language weakness:
32
Work Sample Report Form
Student’s Name:
Written Language
Expressing/sequencing thoughts:
Sentence/paragraph structure:
Word order/verb agreement
Expressive vocabulary:
Length of paragraphs/sentences:
(Continued on reverse)
Date:
Words omitted/added/substituted:
Language mechanics/pragmatics
Spelling
Phoneme/grapheme association
Regular/irregular patterns:
Letters or sound units omitted/substituted/added/rearranged:
(Continued)
Work Sample Report Form
Prefixes/suffixes/word endings:
Sound analysis
Spelling lists:
Spelling in daily work:
Expressive Language
Oral vocabulary:
Word finding:
(Continued)
Fluency in conversation:
Sentence structure/syntax:
Words omitted:
General articulation:
Comprehension of questions:
(Continued)
Work Sample Report Form
Math
Math facts:
Sequencing steps in computation:
Organizing numbers (lining up):
Place value:
Money:
Time:
(Continued)
Measurement:
Estimation:
Attention to operational signs:
Choosing the correct operation:
Solving multi-step word problems (look for omission of steps or steps out of order):
(Continued)
Work Sample Report Form
Visual-Motor Integration
Gross/fine motor abilities:
Handwriting/printing:
Letter formation/size/spacing:
Length of time to copy or complete:
Accuracy of copying:
Organization of work on paper:
(Continued)
39
Ease of transition from manuscript to cursive:
General Language Usage
Following directions (understanding the language of the direction):
Receptive language:
Social relations related to language weakness:
Giving the TAAS
(Test of Auditory Analysis Skills)
The test starts off with two demonstration items
that are intended to show the child what he or
she is expected to do. The first (item A) goes
like this: “ Say cowboy.” (Now pause and allow
him or her to respond. This lets you know that
he or she heard the word.) Then say “Now say it
again, but don’t say boy.” Give him or her time
to respond. (The correct answer, of course, is
cow.)
If he or she gets this one correct, move on to the
second demonstration item. If he or she does not
get item A correct, attempt to explain the task
to the child. If it requires more than a simple
explanation, stop testing.
The second demonstration item (item B) is “Say
steamboat.” (Pause – wait for the response.)
“Now say it again, but don’t say steam.”
If the child answers both demonstration items
correctly, start the test with item 1. If the child
does not answer both demonstration items
correctly, do not administer any more items.
Stop testing when the child has answered two in
a row incorrectly.
Item
Question
A.
B.
1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.
9.
10.
11.
12.
13.
Say cowboy
Say steamboat
Say sunshine
Say picnic
Say cucumber
Say coat
Say meat
Say take
Say game
Say wrote
Say please
Say clap
Say play
Say stale
Say smack
Correct Response
Now say it again, but don’t say boy
Now say it again, but don’t say steam
Now say it again, but don’t say shine
Now say it again, but don’t say pic
Now say it again, but don’t say cu(q)
Now say it again, but don’t say /k/ (the k sound)
Now say it again, but don’t say /m/ (the m sound)
Now say it again, but don’t say /t/ (the t sound)
Now say it again, but don’t say /m/
Now say it again, but don’t say /t/
Now say it again, but don’t say /z/
Now say it again, but don’t say /k/
Now say it again, but don’t say /p/
Now say it again, but don’t say /t/
Now say it again, but don’t say /m/
cow
boat
sun
nic
cumber
oat
eat
ache
gay
row
plea
lap
lay
sale
sack
(Preschool)
(Preschool)
(Kindergarten)
(Kindergarten)
(Kindergarten)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 1)
(Grade 2)
(Grade 2)
(Grade 3)
(Grade 3)
(Rosner 1979)
41
Checklist for General Warning Signs
Use the following checklist to help you to identify areas of weakness regarding your students.
Check each of the warning signs that apply to the student being considered. Each of these statements is
followed by a set of capital letters that will help you to further identify specific areas of processing
weakness. The capital letters represent the following:
V: Visual
VS: Visual Spatial
A: Auditory
O: Organization
L: Language
At: Attention
M: Memory
Ma: Math
W: Written
For each statement that you have checked, put a checkmark or X under the corresponding deficit columns
indicated in the chart on the last page of this section.
Once you have identified a potential area(s) of weakness, go to the more specific checklist and strategies
for the indicated area(s).
42
q
Checklist for General Warning
Signs
q
q
Does the student seem disorganized in his or
her thinking? (O, A)
q
Is the student an adequate oral speller, but a
poor written speller? (V)
Does the student appear to listen, but
process the information heard inaccurately
or out of sequence? (A)
Are there reversals, inversions, or
transpositions in reading and writing beyond
what you would usually see at your grade
level? (V,VS,W)
q
q
q
Does the student have difficulty learning
sounds and sound patterns (phonemic
awareness, phonics, linguistic method)? (A)
q
Is the student slow to respond when you
give a direction or ask for an oral response?
(A,L)
Does the student have difficulty making
decisions?
(At, O)
q
Is the student confused or slow to respond
when asked to complete written work?
(A,L,W)
q
Is written work often not completed within a
time limit? (W,O)
q
Does the student consistently have difficulty
with personal organization? (O)
q
q
Does the student find social situations
difficult? (L)
q
Is expressive language in written form often
rambling or disjointed? (At,L,O)
q
Does the student misperceive social
situations? (At, L)
q
Does the student have difficulty organizing
and/or sequencing his or her thoughts when
given a general topic or task? (At,O,W)
q
Does the student have difficulty
discriminating size, shape or colour? (V,VS)
q
Does the student have a poor sense of time?
(VS)
q
Does the student have difficulty
remembering what was just said or seen?
(A,V, At, M)
q
q
Is the student restless during videos or
visual presentations? (V)
Does the student use both left and right
hands in motor activities? (VS)
q
q
Does the student tune out in noisy
environments (may be viewed as a
daydreamer)? (A)
Does the student have difficulty recognizing
a pattern or sequencing thoughts or
pictures? (VS)
Does the student have difficulty with time
concepts such as days, weeks, months,
years? (VS,O)
q
Does the student have difficulty
remembering stored facts or coming up with
the appropriate word without prompting?
(L,M)
q
Does the student have difficulty making and
keeping friends? (At,L)
q
Is oral language often rambling or
disjointed? (A,L)
q
Does the student act impulsively….speak
before thinking…act before
thinking….answer before considering
possibilities? (At)
Is the student clumsy and does he or she
show poor visual-motor co-ordination? (VS)
q
Is the student totally dysfluent on paper
(known as agraphia)? (W)
q
Does the student lose the gist or thought
easily when writing? (W)
q
Does the student have difficulty copying
notes from the board? (V,M)
q
q
Does the student omit capitalization and/or
punctuation consistently? (W)
Does the student have difficulty with
abstract reasoning or with problem solving?
(O)
43
q
Does the student have difficulty with the
concepts of time, money, measurement,
directionality and/or sequencing in math?
(Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty with
abstract or symbolic math concepts? (Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty choosing
the correct operation in math? (Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty filtering out
non-essential information - i.e. can he or she
direct his or her attention to the task at
hand? (At)
q
Does the student have difficulty focusing
and maintaining attention? (At)
q
Does the student have difficulty with basic
calculation? (V,M,Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty with math
applications? (V,M,Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty with
abstract patterns and relationships between
numbers? (VS,Ma)
q
Does the student have difficulty
understanding numerical order or place
value? (Ma)
q
q
q
Does the student express himself or herself
much better orally than in written form? (W)
Does the student remember information for a
day or two, but forget over the long term?
(M)
Does the student consistently forget how to
print his or her name, or forget his or her
street address, simple number facts, names
of letters, etc.? (M)
q
q
Does the student have difficulty with word
recall? (M)
Does the student have difficulty with math
facts, formulas or the sequence in a
formula? (Ma)
These characteristics should be evident at a
level beyond that which you would usually see
at your grade level.
44
Deficit Chart
Locate the identification letters next to the
boxes you checked in the previous checklist. Put
a check mark for every letter under the
corresponding columns on this chart. The
columns with the most check marks are areas
that need further investigation.
A
At
L
V
VS
W
M
O
Ma
45
Characteristics of Specific
Deficit Areas with Teaching
Strategies and Methods of
Evaluation
The next section of the resource book is divided
into specific deficit areas. Each area contains a
more specific checklist and a section on teaching
strategies and methods of evaluation.
The checklists will help to further determine
whether or not the student is displaying
weaknesses related to a specific processing area.
Consider the characteristics listed in the area
that has been identified from the General
Checklist as a potential area of weakness, and
place a check mark beside the ones that apply to
the student. If a majority of the characteristics
listed for a specific deficit area are evident in the
student, then go to the section(s) related to the
teaching strategies and evaluation methods
included in that section.
47
Attention Deficit
q
An attention deficit is the inability to filter out
extraneous auditory, visual or kinesthetic information
in order to focus and maintain attention to the task
at hand. Hyperactivity or impulsiveness may be
evident with this deficit.
The student is always on the go.
q
The student tends to blurt out answers.
q
q
The student interrupts often.
q
The student has difficulty following through
on instructions.
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in children with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students’ who you
think may fit this category.
q
q
q
The student is fidgety.
q
q
q
q
q
The student often misperceives social
situations.
q
The student runs or climbs or is generally
overactive in inappropriate situations.
q
q
The student has difficulty maintaining
attention on the task at hand.
The student loses things necessary for tasks
and activities at school or at home.
The student is slow to respond when asked
to give a direction, when asked for an oral
response, or when asked to complete
written work.
The student leaves his seat at inappropriate
times.
The student has trouble waiting for his/her
turn.
The student has difficulty listening.
q
The student fails to give close attention to
detail.
The student seems disorganized.
q
The student has trouble with tasks that
require sustained focus.
q
q
The student is forgetful
The student is easily distracted.
The student talks excessively.
The student has difficulty playing or working
quietly.
49
Methods/Strategies:
• Put the child in a more
structured seating plan with
his or her back to classmates,
away from high traffic areas.
• Inform the child when
possible, prior to all
scheduled changes in routine.
• Give only one direction at a time.
• Check with the child to see if directions have
been understood.
• Activity-based lessons with lots of movement
work much better for this type of child. Try to
program scheduled breaks into the day. Asking
these children to sit still for any length of time is
an unreasonable request and most likely not
possible for them.
• A calm, positive manner is much more
productive with this type of child.
• Plan organization strategies into this child’s
lesson ( see section on organization).
• Reduce the amount of homework given, but not
the level of difficulty of the task.
• Send home an extra set of textbooks to
circumvent memory lapses with regard to
bringing books home or to school.
• Be patient, as these children become more
frustrated and tire more easily than others.
• Make eye contact with the child when giving
instructions.
• Establish daily contact, if possible, with the
parents, e.g. notes in a homework book, Talk
Mail, or brief daily reports to be signed by the
parents.
• Use classroom tokens for reward when
appropriate.
• Use encouraging statements to elicit appropriate
behaviours.
• Praise appropriate behaviour and ignore
inappropriate behaviour.
• Immediately give a reprimand if one is necessary.
• Use time out when necessary.
• Provide a quiet space to work without
distraction when appropriate and if possible.
50
• Help to build self-esteem by displaying work or
projects that emphasize the child’s strengths.
• Use a signal to draw the child’s attention
back.
• Redirect physical energy, or ignore it.
• Assign a classroom or study “buddy” to the
child.
• Provide visual examples and steps for
completing assignments.
• Provide an outline and ensure that the child
understands the exact requirements for his or
her assignments.
• Provide the child with a copy of the reading
material with the main ideas highlighted.
• Allow the child to have practice tests prior to
testing so he or she comprehends the structure
of testing.
• Try using calming music when working on a
task, testing, or during transition times.
• Provide an outline for lengthy reading
assignments.
• Provide earphones and tapes of a text, book,
or passage.
Evaluation
• Adjust the length of tests, not the level of
difficulty. Measure knowledge, not endurance.
• Allow extra time for completion of tests.
• Avoid visually crowded sheets or confusing
configurations on tests.
• Arrange for a quiet area for the child to work
during testing.
• Allow for scheduled breaks during testing.
• Base evaluations on a demonstration of
knowledge of curriculum concepts and
content, not simply on completion of all grade
assignments. This child may not be able to
complete the same number of assignments, but
may display adequate knowledge.
• Consider open-book tests.
• Give oral tests or make a scribe available
when necessary.
• Consider providing the test on tape, to which
the student responds on an answer sheet.
• Assign oral reports or hands-on projects.
• Give more weight for assignments or projects
that allow the child to show his or her
understanding, using his or her strength
area(s).
51
q
Auditory-Processing Deficit
An auditory-processing deficit is the inability to
interpret, organize, analyze, or synthesize an auditory
message in the absence of a hearing impairment. Many
children who have been diagnosed with Central
Auditory-Processing Disorder (CAPD) would fall
under this category.
q
The student is unable to retain sounds or
words long enough in order to make meaning
from them.
q
The student has a delay in language
development, vocabulary, or articulation.
q
The following is a list of characteristics that may be
evident in children with this deficit. Use this as a
checklist with regard to students who you think
may fit this category.
q
The student is unable to discriminate
between similar sounding words (e.g. shut
and shot).
q
The student often looks to see what
everybody else is doing before carrying out
directions.
The student tunes out in a noisy environment
(may be viewed as a daydreamer).
q
q
The student listens but processes the
information heard inaccurately and often out of
proper sequence.
q
q
The student frequently asks for information to
be repeated (often uses question words such
as huh? what?).
q
52
The student has difficulty retaining material
presented orally.
The student prefers visual or active games to
those involving listening or speaking.
q
The student is unable to follow oral directions,
especially those given quickly.
q
q
q
The student has difficulty learning sounds
and sound patterns (phonemic awareness,
phonics, linguistic method).
The student may not respond as rapidly to
sounds as others.
The student is unable to explain in verbal or
written fashion what he or she can achieve
by doing.
The student’s written or oral responses will
appear very simple and will not be an
accurate indication of his or her knowledge.
The student’s responses and comments may
often appear to be dissociated from the
topic.
q
The student experiences difficulty with
dictated notes.
q
q
The student experiences difficulty with short
and fast quizzes.
The student experiences difficulty making
notes from what the teacher has said.
q
q
The student has difficulty sorting out
background noises.
The student has difficulty focusing on one
sound among many.
q
The student has difficulty answering oral
questions and repeating sentences.
Methods/Strategies:
• Place the student near the front of the room
or near the teacher, away from the door or
window that may provide a source of auditory
distraction.
• Offer the student a study carrel to work in if
one is available.
• Place the student in a structured rather than
an open classroom if possible.
• Have most oral lessons in written form or in
outline form for this student.
• Place less emphasis on decoding words.
Encourage the use of context and picture cues.
• Use taped books, as this will assist the child to
associate the auditory with a visual message.
• Intervene with phonemic awareness activities
or programs.
• Make sure the student has eye contact with
the teacher when instructions are given, and
ensure that the student is attending to what is
being said.
• Teach the student the mouth position
associated with certain sounds, when teaching
these skills in the classroom.
• Speak in a slow and distinct manner, using
simple vocabulary.
• Use gesture to reinforce what is being said.
• Emphasize key words and word endings when
speaking or writing, especially when
presenting new information.
• Paraphrase instructions
and information in simpler
language rather than only
repeating.
• Encourage the student to
ask questions when
confused.
• Make instructional transitions clear.
• Avoid asking the student to listen and write
notes at the same time.
• Provide copied notes when necessary.
• Show patience with these children as they tire
easily.
• Monitor the student’s understanding of
directions by asking the student to repeat the
direction given.
• Pair the student with a peer helper who can
assist the student when he or she has not
grasped the auditory message.
• Do not count spelling in daily work or test
situations.
Evaluation Strategies:
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
Break the test into smaller portions.
Provide a scribe for testing.
Do not count spelling on a test.
Ensure that the student has understood the
directions for a test.
Give the student short directions,
explanations, and instructions to follow.
Provide written directions and instructions to
supplement verbal directions and instructions.
Identify a list of word endings, key words, etc.
that the student will practise listening for
when someone is speaking.
Have the student silently repeat or subvocalize information just heard.
Deliver directions to the child individually.
Interact frequently with the student during
testing.
Give the student one task to perform at one
time.
Provide visual aids whenever possible.
53
• Provide a quiet place to
write a test.
• Provide extra time when
necessary (usually time and
a half is sufficient)
• Allow point-form
answers to essay questions.
54
Visual-Processing Deficit
A visual-processing deficit is the inability to
interpret, organize, analyse or synthesize a visual
message in the absence of a visual impairment.
him or her. The eyes may be bothered
because of the intensity needed to decipher
the visual material.
q
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in children with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
think may fit this category.
The student’s reading level is below
average.
q
q
q
The student is inattentive to visual tasks and
can be easily distracted by too much visual
stimuli (e.g. brightly coloured posters, or too
much clutter in the classroom).
q
q
q
The student’s written copy may show
missing figures or words, reversals,
inversions, additions, deletions, or
transpositions in letters or numbers.
q
q
The student does not remember what he or
she has read silently
The student rubs his or her eyes or
complains that his or her eyes are bothering
In math, the student is inattentive to function
signs, omits steps in a formula, or confuses
visually similar formulas.
q
The student is restless during videos or
visual presentations.
The student has difficulty copying from the
board, test paper, calculator or textbook to
the student’s own paper.
The student’s oral reading comprehension is
better than his or her silent reading
comprehension.
The student is a poor written speller, but is
an adequate oral speller.
q
The student does not observe visual
changes or stimuli that other children notice
(e.g. bulletin board displays, posted notices
in obvious places).
q
The student’s directionality is weak, and the
student gets lost in unknown places, often
copies numbers reversed, inverted or
transposed from the original.
q
q
The student’s reading level is below
average.
The student’s work shows persistent spelling
errors.
55
Methods/Strategies:
• Reduce the amount of visual information on a
page.
• Have the student use graph paper to assist him
or her in lining up the numbers properly.
• Highlight or underline important phrases in
the student’s assigned reading.
• Assign fewer questions, but retain the level of
difficulty given to an assignment.
• Have the student consistently use a word
processor for written work.
• Reduce distracting visual stimuli in the
classroom.
• Allow for extra time for written tasks.
• Provide copied notes.
• Allow the use of a calculator for math-related
activities.
• Have the student use a sliding mask, finger, or
ruler when reading.
• Use a scribe when necessary to record answers.
• Be aware of the difficulty associated with
visual tasks such as matching.
Evaluation Strategies:
•
•
•
•
Provide oral testing.
Provide a scribe for testing.
Give extra time.
Be aware of the visual difficulty of particular
test questions.
• Provide a model or example if possible.
56
V isual-Spatial Deficit
q
A visual spatial deficit is the inability to interpret,
organize, analyse or synthesize the spatial
components of a visual message in the absence of a
visual impairment.
q
q
The student is clumsy.
q
The student’s written work appears sloppy.
q
The student has difficulty perceiving spaces
between words and recognizing punctuation
in written language.
The student has poor handwriting or
artwork.
q
The student loses his or her place when
reading and skips important details or
figures on a page.
q
The student’s reading level is below
average.
q
The student’s mapping or graphing abilities
are weak.
q
q
The student consistently uses a finger to
keep his or her place when reading or
finding a word in a composition (poor
tracking).
q
The student has poor skills when attempting
to accurately match letters and figures in
correct spaces (e.g. letter and number
matching activities in columns).
q
The student has difficulty locating specific
words in dictionaries or texts.
The student’s papers are poorly organized,
and information is scattered.
The student has difficulty with depth
perception and measurement.
q
q
The student often pushes the wrong
numbers on a calculator or phone.
The student has difficulty with time concepts
or with the passage of time.
Methods/Strategies:
• Have the student use outline format or visual
organizers.
• Encourage the use of a word processor.
• Have the student use coloured overlays when
reading.
• Encourage cursive writing rather than
manuscript to reduce reversals, inversions, etc.
• Provide strategies for organization.
• Have the student consistently use an agenda
or calendar to assist in preplanning. A peer
helper, volunteer or parent may assist with this
task.
57
• Use concrete, hands-on
examples whenever
possible when introducing
a new concept.
• Have the student use
graph paper to assist in
lining up numbers on a
page.
• Reduce the amount of visual information the
student has to absorb at one time.
• Reduce the number of assigned questions, but
retain the level of difficulty.
• Use clay or other kinesthetic means when
introducing letters in the early years.
Evaluation Strategies:
• Provide oral testing or a scribe.
• Allow blank visual organizers to be brought to
a testing situation, and evaluate these
organizers if not enough time is available to
the student to translate the organizer to
written form.
• Accept point-form answers.
• Allow calculator for math activities.
• Limit the amount of visual information
presented on a test page.
• Consider alternative methods, other than a
written test, of checking for understanding of
a concept.
• Allow extra time.
58
Written-Expression Deficit
A written-expression deficit is the inability to
effectively communicate thoughts and ideas in a
structured, sequential, and organized form.
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in children with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
think may fit this category.
•
The student has poor or dysfunctional
handwriting, otherwise known as
dysgraphia.
•
The student has total dysfluency on paper,
known as agraphia.
•
The student has poor spelling.
•
The student has difficulty copying from the
board or from dictation.
•
The student has poor visual-spatial
perception (may start in odd places on the
page, use erratic spacing, use different sizes
for letters).
•
The student prefers to print while others are
writing, or the student uses both printing and
cursive writing in the same assignment.
•
The student is much slower than others to
complete written work.
•
The student loses the gist or thought easily
when writing.
•
The student omits capitalization and/or
punctuation consistently
•
The student can express himself or herself
much better orally.
Methods/Strategies:
• Consider alternative forms, other than written
tasks, of practising and demonstrating
knowledge in a concept area.
• Encourage the use of a word processor.
• Pair the student with a classroom buddy who
can do the writing for the child.
• Utilize co-operative learning groups.
• Model written work for the student to allow
him or her to imitate your sentence structures.
• Allow the student to read his or her written
work aloud to help identify errors in
organization.
• Help the student “brainstorm” ideas about a
topic and then show him or her how to put
these ideas into an outline form, combining
some ideas and discarding others.
• Reduce distracting stimuli by placing the
student in a study carrel or “office” when
engaged in writing activities.
59
• Have a peer act as a
model for spelling words
phonetically. Have the
student read the
material that the peers
write phonetically.
• Allow the student
to keep a dictionary of “most often misspelled
words.”
• Provide practice in spelling by using a
computer software program that gives the
student immediate feedback.
• Try various activities to help strengthen and
reinforce the visual memory of spelling words
(i.e. flashcards, word lists on the chalkboard, a
list on the student’s desk, etc.).
• Have the student maintain a folder of all
spelling words.
• Place a grip on the pencil to enable the
student to hold it more effectively.
• Allow the student to use wide-lined paper (for
students at the beginning stages of learning
printing and cursive writing).
• Use computer paper to help the student write
letters at the correct height.
• Use paper with raised lines to help a student
whose letters tend to go above or below the
line.
• Allow the student to demonstrate knowledge
in non-written form (i.e. oral report, art
project, play, etc.).
• Have the student practise air writing (of
critical importance for dyslexic and dysgraphic
students). This connects kinesthetic with
visual mode.
• Have a poster with a list of the qualities of
good writing posted in the classroom.
• Provide specific organizational strategies for
writing, e.g. story maps/webs, visual organizers,
flow charts, outlines.
• Allow the student extra time for copying or
for producing written assignments.
• Have copied notes available for the student.
• Encourage the student to use a tape recorder
to record draft copies of written work.
60
Evaluation Strategies:
• Permit the use of point form or visual
organizers for answers to essay questions or
questions of a similar type.
• Provide oral testing or a scribe when possible.
• Follow up a written test with oral questioning
on missing parts.
• Provide a word processor for tests.
• Consider a take-home test.
• Use fill-in-the-blank, true-or-false or matching
questions to reduce writing requirements.
• Allow the student to answer questions, using a
tape recorder.
• Have the student with visual perception
difficulties use a ruler to place under the
question to guide him or her to the correct
response box.
Language-Processing Deficit
q
A language-processing deficit is the inability to
receive, comprehend, organize, and express language
in its appropriate forms in the absence of sensory
impairments.
q
q
q
q
The student has poor spelling.
q
q
The student’s written work is disorganized
and messy.
The student needs to read a passage or
story several times before understanding its
meaning.
The student has word retrieval difficulties.
The student does not express feelings or
thoughts logically.
q
The student has difficulty linking and
categorizing verbal concepts.
q
The student has difficulty understanding the
meaning of some phrases.
q
When given a general theme, the student
has difficulty generating or identifying
supporting details.
q
The student’s spoken language shows
limited vocabulary, incomplete sentences,
improper grammar, and confused or poorly
sequenced thoughts.
q
The student has difficulty identifying a
sequence in a story.
q
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in students with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
think may fit into this category.
q
The student has difficulty determining the
main idea or theme.
The student says one thing, but writes
something else.
q
q
The student has difficulty following
directions.
The student’s work shows poor coherence in
the structure of sentences, paragraphs and
longer passages.
The student substitutes words of similar
meaning.
Peers and others often have difficulty
understanding the student.
61
• Use a multi-sensory approach.
• Provide intervention in phonemic awareness.
Evaluation Strategies:
Methods/Strategies:
Note: The strategies listed for auditoryprocessing deficit are appropriate here as well.
• Allow the student ample time to read silently
for practice before asking him or her to read
orally.
• Model slow, easy speech for the student and do
not interrupt or finish his or her sentence.
• Slow down rate of speaking to allow the child
to process the information.
• Assign the student to work with a classroom
friend who is a good language model.
• Establish a signal to remind the student to
slow down and speak in complete sentences.
• Have the student record his or her speech to
teach monitoring strategies.
• Emphasize the use of context cues.
• Provide a language-rich environment.
• Place an alphabet strip on the desk for
younger children.
• Encourage the student to read a story more
than once.
• Monitor reading material to ensure that the
level is appropriate.
• Use high-interest books with accompanying
taped version for rereading.
• Teach reading strategies that will help locate
information in a text.
• Help the student use associate cues when
sequencing events.
• Practice sequential activities.
• Have the child retell stories he or she has
read.
• Introduce and explain key vocabulary in
context.
62
• Provide oral testing or a scribe.
• Adjust vocabulary usage in testing to suit the
language needs of the child.
• Allow extra time for testing.
• Provide a quiet space for testing.
Mathematics Deficit
q
A mathematics deficit is the inability to deal with
number and mathematical concepts.
The student has difficulty with abstract or
symbolic math concepts.
q
The student has difficulty copying or reading
numbers.
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in students with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
think may fit into this category.
q
The student has difficulty distinguishing the
important from the unimportant details in
word problems.
q
q
The student has difficulty recognizing
patterns or relationships among numbers.
The student has difficulty putting facts in a
logical sequence in order to find a solution.
q
The student has difficulty remembering math
facts, formulas or a sequence of formulas.
q
q
q
q
The student has difficulty choosing the
correct process to use.
q
The student has difficulty visualizing or
verbalizing numeric information.
The student has difficulty generalizing math
information to new situations.
q
The student has difficulty with math
vocabulary.
q
q
The student often responds with an answer
that bears no relationship to the math
question asked.
The student has difficulty with basic
calculation/application.
The student perseveres with an improper
procedure.
The student does not understand numerical
order or place value.
q
q
The student has difficulty with such spatial
math concepts as time, money,
measurement, directionality and sequencing.
The student is consistently reluctant to begin
any math task.
63
• Use modeling frequently.
• Have the student work with a classroom peer.
• Teach strategies for checking math work.
Evaluation Strategies:
Methods/Strategies:
• Use word problems that relate to the student’s
experiences.
• Use concrete manipulatives to demonstrate
and practise problems before moving to
symbolic.
• Encourage the use of a calculator or math
charts, ensuring that the process is
demonstrated in the child’s work.
• Have the child highlight key words for steps,
directions or operations in questions given to
him or her.
• Use visual cues (e.g. stop signs or red dots) on
the paper when the student must change
operations. Have the student raise his or her
hand when reaching STOP signs, and provide
necessary instructions to go on.
• Use colour coding (e.g. green for addition, red
for subtraction, etc.).
• Provide extra large symbols next to questions
in order that the student will be more likely to
observe the symbols.
• Provide practice in math by using a computer
software program that gives the student
immediate feedback.
• Use large coloured arrows to indicate where
the student begins to work a math problem.
• Reduce the number of questions given to the
student, but not the level of difficulty.
• For younger students, put a number line on
the desk.
• Have a math reference sheet or cue cards that
demonstrate the steps to solving a particular
type of question.
• Ensure that the student has a clear
understanding of the math vocabulary being
used.
64
• Evaluate on daily or weekly basis rather than
on lengthy tests or exams.
• If lengthy tests are required, do not mix
concepts at one time.
• Allow the use of a calculator or charts.
• Provide a visual model with test questions to
demonstrate what is being asked.
• Provide graph paper for lining up numbers
when working math problems.
• Use personal experiences when designing
math problems.
• Have oral testing for word problems.
• Provide the student with a quiet place to
work.
• Allow extra time to complete tests.
• Highlight operational signs so that the student
is sure to notice the signs before beginning an
operation.
• Highlight key words on a test so that the
student is sure to notice the words before
answering the question.
Organizational Deficit
Methods/Strategies:
An organizational deficit is the inability to
internally structure for the purposes of planning,
monitoring, and evaluating information.
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in students with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
feel will fit into this category.
q
q
The student’s personal appearance is
disorganized, as are books, locker, desk,
assignments and thoughts.
The student speaks in a rambling,
disorganized manner.
q
The student is forgetful (e.g. forgets to take
assignments home, write out lessons, and/or
bring back completed work).
q
The student is often late or absent.
q
The student is immature or impulsive.
q
The student has difficulty making choices or
decisions.
q
q
q
The student shows inconsistent behaviours.
The student strays from the topic quickly.
The student procrastinates when faced with
a highly structured task.
• Provide structure and routine.
• State directions clearly and directly. Try not to
wander off topic.
• Clearly state the purpose or points to be
covered in a lesson prior to beginning. A
course or project outline is helpful.
• Print key words on the board prior to each
lesson.
• Ensure that students write homework in an
agenda or lesson book.
• Using a talk mail set up for at risk students,
send a talk mail daily, stating homework
requirements.
• Use a binder to help keep materials together.
• Use a colour coding system for subjects.
• Have two sets of books, one for school and
one for home.
• Model and teach strategies for approaching a
project. Try not to assume that the student
knows how to organize this task. Have the
student transfer the steps of these strategies
onto a recipe card or index card, and tape to
the inside of a binder or scribbler.
• Post class rules or learning strategies in a
visible location in the classroom.
65
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
•
• Have the child
summarize notes or text
reading, using visual
organizers.
• Provide easy to follow
mnemonic devices when
available, for remembering
or organizing concepts; e.g. COPS ….
Capitalization, Organization, Punctuation,
Spelling… as a mnemonic for proofreading
and editing.
For middle level, post or provide mark value
for course components at the beginning of
each unit.
Involve parents in monitoring the student’s
homework and projects.
Assign a classroom buddy who will check that
homework is written and that the correct
books are packed.
Avoid giving homework verbally without
written backup.
Use co-operative learning techniques when
possible to utilize the organizational skills of
others.
Keep an extra folder of handout sheets to
replace those “lost” by the student.
Take a new student on a tour of the school
and explicitly point out specific locations such
as the gym and art room, as well as taking the
student through a day’s schedule prior to
starting school.
Allow the student to experience the
consequences of disorganization when
appropriate.
Intervene when the student is disorganized.
Praise and reward the student for good
organization.
Evaluation Strategies:
• Provide a scribe to ensure that the child has
understood what is being asked of him or her.
• Encourage the use of outlines, maps or visual
organizers for tests.
66
• When designing tests, make use of question
types that do not require as much
organization; e.g. fill in the blank, true or
false, multiple choice.
• Give extra time for testing.
• Present assignments in small chunks.
• Provide a model or example in test items.
Memory Deficit
q
A memory deficit is the inability to retain and recall
information.
q
The following is a list of characteristics that may
be evident in students with this deficit. Use this
as a checklist with regard to students who you
feel may fit into this category.
q
q
The student can remember information for a
day or two, but cannot recall over long
periods of time.
q
The student will ask the same question a
second and third time.
The student can’t remember a sequence of
events.
q
q
The student can remember that a topic was
covered, but cannot recall the details.
q
The student forgets how to print his or her
name, the street address, simple number
facts, names of letters, etc.
The student forgets homework.
The student has difficulty copying from the
board. He or she is slow to complete these
tasks and looks up constantly. The copied
work may have omissions, additions or
substitutions (visual short-term memory).
q
The student often does not remember what
was done yesterday or the day previous to
that.
q
The student forgets sequence, words, or
details from orally presented materials
(short-term auditory memory).
The student takes longer to remember
information on tests.
q
The student answers a previous question
when the teacher has asked a new one.
q
q
The student has difficulty with timed oral or
written tests.
The student has difficulty with fill-in-theblank questions.
Methods/Strategies:
• Use repetitive practice (drill) with these
students.
• Use a multi-sensory approach that considers
multiple intelligences when presenting
information. This enhances memory.
• Present new material in short easy steps.
• Use index cards to keep vocabulary words,
spelling words, or number facts at hand.
67
• Teach the child memoryenhancing strategies such
as mnemonics, rhyme,
singing, finger math, etc.
• Have the student repeat
directions you have given
to ensure understanding
and retention.
• Write directions on the board.
• Ensure proper and consistent use of an agenda
or calendar.
Evaluation Strategies:
• Consider methods other than a written test for
evaluation.
• Use multiple choice questioning. Provide a
word list when using fill-in-the-blank
questioning.
• Use cloze exercises with word choices.
• Encourage the use of visual organizers, webs,
or outlines.
• Permit the use of a calculator
• Provide examples on the test to demonstrate
what is being asked.
68
Development of a Special
Education Plan
A Special Education Plan according to the New
Brunswick Education Act is defined as the
following:
… an education program for an
exceptional pupil is based on the
results of continuous assessment and
evaluation and which includes a plan
containing specific objectives and
recommendations for education
services that meet the needs of the
pupil (Section 1)
methods, strategies, materials and/or equipment
needed to support these objectives. The written
plan should indicate the method of monitoring,
the reporting of progress, and each team
member’s responsibility.
For children with Specific Learning Disability,
the Special Education Plan will reflect planning
based on helping them to further develop in
areas of processing weakness; will indicate
classroom adaptations to methods of
presentation, support, and evaluation that
recognize the unique processing needs of these
children; and will reflect planning to help the
children develop methods of coping with and
understanding the uniqueness of their learning
needs and talents.
A Special Education Plan is necessary for
students who require adaptations to their
instruction and/or to the material presented.
Many children with Specific Learning Disability
will require planning to address their individual
educational needs.
A Special Education Plan should include an
identification of the strengths or talents of the
child, and of his or her needs with respect to
processing difficulties as identified by the
assessment process.
Collaborative planning is an integral part of the
development of a Special Education Plan.
Students, parents, classroom teachers, resource
teachers, administrators, and others that may
include guidance counsellors, district personnel,
school psychologists, speech/language
pathologists share information related to the
student, share their goals for the student’s future
and identify his or her strengths and needs. The
collaborative group develops goals for which
short-term objectives are then established.
Responsibility for implementation and
monitoring is also assigned. Roles may be
assigned to any member of the collaborative
team. The written plan produced from this
collaborative effort should include a current
level of performance, specific objectives based on
the collectively developed goals, as well as
69
Parents’ Role
Parents have an important role to play in the
development and implementation of an
educational plan for children with Specific
Learning Disability. Parents also are an integral
part of the support mechanism for both the
student and the teacher.
Parents are often the first persons to recognize
when the child is struggling with schoolwork,
and therefore may be key persons to make an
initial request for a referral to the school-based
team to initiate the assessment process. They
may notice that the child is taking extra time on
homework, is unhappy when dealing with
certain subjects or avoids certain school-related
tasks. They may be concerned about the
excessive amount of time their child spends on
homework compared to the time others in the
child’s class spend. Parents often notice
behavioural patterns such as a reluctance to go
to school, crying spells, or extended periods of
sadness that send warning signals that something
is amiss.
Parents are a critical component in the referral
and assessment process and the planning and
implementation that follow. The parent, using
some of the general checklists or observation
forms as guidelines can help to provide
information that augments the teacher’s
observations of the child in the school setting.
Parents can also provide to the teacher a
background history of the early development of
the child. Such early developmental history
often gives clear warning signs of the possibility
of learning disabilities.
As learning disabilities are genetically inherited,
parents can provide key information as to the
presence of learning disabilities in other family
members. If other members of a family have
struggled with learning disabilities, then the
likelihood of a learning disability being present
in the child is much stronger. In presenting
information to parents, the teacher should also
recognize that the parent(s) may have a learning
disability and adjust his or her presentation
accordingly.
Parents are a key component in the development
and implementation of a Special Education Plan
for their child. Parents who are present at
planning meetings can help to establish goals for
the child that can be further developed by them
in the home. Goals and objectives will be agreed
upon by both home and school, and the parents
can feel that they have a legitimate stake in the
implementation of the Special Education Plan,
and can be assigned activities or tasks that can
be carried out by them with specific goals in
mind. In the development of a plan for the
child, the parents may be assigned sole
responsibility for parts of it, e.g. researching their
child’s disability and seeking medical advice,
obtaining a tutor, or enrolling the child in
outside social activities.
Once a collaborative vision for the child has
been established, and all clearly feel that they
understand and have a part in the planning
process, then the welfare of the child is
enhanced. The child’s school success is
contingent upon parental support and
involvement.
Parents should also be a part of continuing
planning meetings for the child. Goals and
objectives will change from year to year, but the
parents should always have a part in helping to
address the needs of the child.
Parents often will need support during the
difficult period of identification, evaluation and
implementation. Teachers should be sensitive to
the turmoil that the parent(s) may be feeling.
Referral to such groups as the Learning
Disabilities Association of New Brunswick can
be beneficial to parents at this time.
71
Coping Strategies
Children with Specific Learning Disability often
feel frustration in their day-to-day school
experiences. Feelings of being overwhelmed or
feelings of depression often accompany the
anxiety and tension associated with their struggle
to deal with their difficulties.
There are various avenues or strategies that can
be introduced into the lives of children with
Specific Learning Disability that will help them
cope with the difficulties that they face. These
“coping strategies” are often initiated by parents
and teachers in the hope that the student will
begin to develop these skills independently.
Teachers and parents should be aware of the
need to build a circle of friends for the student at
school and in the community. Socializing may
need the direct intervention of parents and
teachers if it does not occur on its own. Students
with Specific Learning Disability need a peer
support group to help them through difficult
days. As well, students with Specific Learning
Disability will need to develop skills for selfadvocacy so that in the future they will be able
to indicate to people the adjustments and
accommodations necessary for their success in
post-secondary institutions and/or the workplace.
Parents and teachers will need to assist the
students in the development of positive thinking
by fostering their self-esteem. It is often helpful
for these children to find an adult mentor who
can assist them with their advocacy skills, and
who, by modeling, can show them ways of
dealing with frustration. Self-esteem is also
developed through the identification and
fostering of a talent.
More specific coping strategies can be developed
through social skills or anger-management
groups, through club activities, or through group
or personal counselling. Parents and teachers
should look at areas that will assist the child to
develop skills for independence in adult life.
72
Most children develop these skills without
assistance. Often children with learning
disabilities will need explicit teaching in this
area. The development of computer keyboarding
skills will also be an asset in future life. In
addition, parents and teachers will need to
identify and develop coping strategies related to
assisting the child with academic areas. These
strategies, such as study skills, organizational
skills, memory strategies, etc., should be
considered a toolbox from which the child can
choose the appropriate technique or tool.
Anxiety and its associated tension and stress
frequently plague children with Specific
Learning Disability. Therefore, they need to
develop coping strategies to manage their
reaction to stress, to help them relax, calm down
and focus their energy on the task at hand.
Many of the breathing techniques associated
with Yoga or similar philosophies will relax the
muscles and counteract the negative effects of
the anxiety built up as the child attempts a
difficult task. Exercises involving slow deliberate
movement are also helpful. Further, visualization
techniques and relaxation through the use of
soothing music are all stress relievers that can be
introduced into the life of the child with
learning disabilities to help them cope with their
tension. (Adapted from “How to Reach and Teach
ADD/ADHD Children” by Sandra Rief 1993)
Assistive Technology
Assistive technology can often help to create an
environment that nurtures individual styles and
creativity and that enables students to focus on
their areas of strength. Through assistive devices,
assignments and curriculum can be presented so
that students can demonstrate their true abilities.
As well, computer-assisted instruction is often
helpful for children with learning disabilities. A
number of programs on the market, e.g. Academy
of Reading™, Fast ForWord™ and Plato™, all
have features which can accommodate
individual needs, particularly in basic skill
development.
Children with learning disabilities often benefit
from the use of computers and other
technologies. Students may be taught
organizational skills for writing with such
programs as Inspiration by Inspiration Software
Inc., and enhance their finished materials by
using the spell check or hand held checks such
as the Franklin Electronic Dictionary or the
Franklin Language Master available from Franklin
Electronic Publishers. Often these students can
be taught keyboarding skills. Laptop computers
or desktop keyboards, such as the Alpha Smart
2000 available from Intelligent Peripheral
Devices Inc., allow students to easily transfer
work from home to school.
Although still in the stages of being refined,
voice activation software allows the students
with oral abilities to express their thoughts on
paper. Current literature indicates that programs
such as Dragon Naturally Speaking have proven a
great benefit to children with learning
disabilities.
The use of touch screens allows access to certain
software programs to students for whom the use
of a keyboard and mouse are not appropriate
access devices. For very young children with fine
motor difficulties, a modified mouse may prove
beneficial.
For students with memory difficulties, calculators
may be necessary for math-related activities.
Calculators with larger keys that give tactile
feedback may be of assistance to children who
are kinesthetic learners.
73
Transition
Because services for students with learning
disabilities look very different at elementary,
middle and high school levels, appropriate
transitioning is of paramount importance.
It is important, prior to school entry, that the
school obtain all pertinent information, such as
that provided by the age 3.5 screening, that may
assist in the identification of possible learning
difficulties. Diagnosis of a disability may not
have occurred before school entry, but prior
information shared with the school may assist in
an earlier referral to the school-based team for a
child with a Specific Learning Disability.
Support may initially be in the form of
consultation with parents about the need for
assessment. Upon the clarification of needs and
necessary support services through a diagnostic
process, school-based teams and parents confer
to develop a Special Education Plan and
implement appropriate strategies.
In the transition from elementary to middle
school, information pertaining to the student
must be clearly defined. Intervention may be a
combination of explicit teaching of weaker skills
and consultation/collaboration among teachers,
with the long-range goal of increasing the
student’s independence in the classroom
situation. Students must engage in an ongoing
process of understanding and accommodating
their own needs and styles of learning.
It is imperative that services and adaptations be
in place prior to a student attending a new
setting to avoid both frustration and anxiety. It is
not the parent’s responsibility to educate the
teachers as to needs and necessary supports. It
may be expected that at a high school level
students are able to advocate for themselves, but
skills to do so are often not in place.
Ideally, in the planning for transition, the case
manager for the child (usually the resource
teacher) and school personnel from the receiving
74
school (to include the resource teacher) would
meet, prior to the end of the school year before
the transition, to familiarize the receiving school
with the details of the child’s previous planning,
and to outline the needed support for the coming
year. Educators must ensure that assessment
reports, Special Education Plans,
accommodation checklists, etc. are passed on to
the new school, via the cumulative record and/or
through resource or guidance files. It is the
responsibility of the receiving resource teacher to
make receiving classroom teachers aware of the
needs of the children with Specific Learning
Disability that may be in their classrooms.
Resources
Short Term Remedial Methods
for K-3
Currently, in the area of reading and particularly
in the area of learning disabilities, there has been
much emphasis on early identification of
difficulties and the importance of a balanced
approach, with the inclusion of explicit teaching
of skills as part of that balance. The National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development
has performed longitudinal studies that suggest
that a balance of emphasis on comprehension,
phonemic awareness, phonics and fluency is
critical. (Lyon 1997)
The following programs suggested as examples of
short-term interventions have been found to be
useful by some school districts and are only a
sampling of what might be used for explicit
teaching of certain skills.
Reading Recovery
The Reading Recovery Program was first
developed in New Zealand by educator and
psychologist Marie Clay. It is an early
intervention program designed to help lowachieving six-year-old children to learn to read
and write. Marie Clay believes that reading
failure is preventable for all but a very small
percentage of children, and that any remediation
beyond grade three is largely unsuccessful. A few
teachers in New Brunswick have been given an
opportunity to complete a year of training in the
program, while others have adapted this program
to suit their school’s needs and structure.
The program is an individual tutoring program in
which a trained person meets with a child for
thirty minutes each day outside the child’s regular
classroom. Although the teacher determines
what strategies to use, Reading Recovery lessons
operate in a structured framework. Each day
teachers and students are involved in five major
activities that include the following:
• reading from a book that had been read
previously
• the teacher taking a running record of a book
that was introduced to a student the previous
day to analyse the child’s strategies
• the teacher working with letters and sounds
• the child dictating a sentence or a short story
pertaining to a book ( The teacher records the
dictated sentence or story and then rereads it
to the child. The teacher then rewrites the
message on a strip of paper, cuts it into
individual words and asks the child to
reconstruct the message. This book and
scrambled sentence are both sent home to be
read and assembled and brought back the next
day.)
• the next day the child reading the book and
the sentence being assembled again ( A new
book is introduced. The process begins again.)
It is recommended that at-risk children receive
thirty minutes of daily one-to-one instruction for
a period of up to twenty weeks or for a maximum
of one hundred sessions.
Phonological Auditory Training – Spell
Read
Spell Read P.A.T. is built around the discoveries
of Kay MacPhee, a teacher with twenty-eight
years of experience and professional training.
Kay began her career working with the hearing
impaired, and learned techniques to teach them
how to use what hearing they had to speak, read
and write.
Her success in working with those students
brought the request that she consider using the
same techniques to help hearing children who
were struggling to learn to read and, as a result,
were thought to be learning disabled. She
quickly realized that the hearing students
couldn’t “hear” the sounds of the language
either, just like the hearing-impaired students
could not. As they learned how to automatically
recognize and manipulate the individual sounds
of the language, their reading and writing skills
started to improve. With time, she developed
75
and refined her techniques, to the point that
they proved to be effective with adult students.
(From presentation handout given by Duane
Pound of P.A.T. – Spell Read)
Early Success
This program available from Nelson, Canada is
intended for use with a small group of children.
Each of the skill areas involved in
comprehension, fluency, phonemic awareness
and phonics is taught. The components of the
program include reading for fluency, first reading
book walk, shared reading, making words,
coached reading, individual reading,
independent reading, writing sentences, and
word wall. The program is not a total language
arts program, but rather is designed as a shortterm intervention method.
Gift of Dyslexia
This orientation and symbol mastery program,
designed by Ron Davis, is intended to assist
children who experience difficulties with visual
perception. It is a kinesthetic approach to
learning letters, symbols, and difficult target
words.
Reading Reflex
This program, conceived by Carmen and
Geoffrey McGuiness, uses the concept of phonographix and is one of the many programs
available that moves from phonological
awareness to sound symbol association. This
program takes what the child knows, the sounds
of his language, and teaches him/her the various
sound pictures that represent those sounds. It does
this through developmentally appropriate
lessons.
Academy of Reading
This program is a comprehensive, interactive,
multimedia reading program designed to
enhance literacy skills in children, adolescents
and adults. The program contains a wide variety
76
of assessment tools and several training programs
that help develop the skills necessary for
successful reading.
The program contains the following reading
measures:
•
•
•
•
•
•
Phonemic Awareness Test Battery
Reading Subskills Test Battery
Word Recognition
Oral Reading Comprehension
Silent Reading Comprehension
Cloze Paragraph Comprehension
On the basis of the assessment, each student is
assigned lessons according to his or her needs.
The management component of the program
tracks the student’s progress and provides
immediate feedback to both the student and the
teacher.
The Academy of Reading is an intervention
program for struggling readers. It is not a
comprehensive language arts program.
Fast ForWord
Fast ForWor d is a patented Internet-and CDROM-based training program for individuals
with language and reading problems. The
product of decades of research in neuroscience
and neuropsychology, the program represents a
revolutionary approach to understanding
language. In an intensive series of adaptive,
interactive exercises using acoustically modified
speech and speech sounds, Fast ForWord
stimulates rapid language-skill development as
children learn to distinguish the various
components of speech.
As children move into the more challenging
levels of the training, the program encourages
enhanced language awareness and
comprehension. On average, children with
language problems make 1 to 2 years of language
gains after completion of the 4 - 8 week program.
The program consists of five 20-minute training
sessions a day, five days per week, under the
supervision of Fast ForWor d-trained providers in
private clinics and hospitals, public and private
schools, or Fast ForWor d Learning Centres.
On-screen rewards for successful completion of
training segments are supplemented with
interesting token economy rewards, which are
awarded with the achievement of point goals
determined in conjunction with the child and
parents.
Results from the exercises are analysed daily and
compared with the child’s progress to date. The
Fast ForWord professional/educator can access
the child’s historical data and interpretive
summaries online that can be shared with
parents during scheduled consultations
throughout the training.
(www.scientificlearning.com/html/ff/intro.html)
Developing Phonological
Awareness:
Sequential Examples
1.
Have the child clap his or her hands in time
to the syllables in a two-syllable compound
word, saying the syllables as he or she claps.
2. Have the child draw a dash, from left to
right, for each syllable in a two-syllable
compound word as he or she says the word.
Then ask the child to “read” the dashes in
any order designated.
3. Say to the child, “Say baseball; now say
ball.” Ask what was left out.
4. Say to the child, “Say baseball; now say it
again, but don’t say ball.”
5. Have the child clap his or her hands in time
to the syllables of a three-syllable word, e.g.
vacation.
6. Have the child draw a dash from left to
right for each syllable in a three (or more)
syllable word. Then have the child “read”
the dashes in any designated order.
7. Tell the child that he or she is going to look
for a small word in the words you say. Then
say “Mor e. Is the word more hidden in the
word morning?” Pause and wait for a
response. “Farmer? mortgage? morbid? ”
8. Ask the child to find the hidden syllable:
Say “Two; is the word two hidden in the
word tomorrow?”
Say “Toe; is the word toe hidden in the
word tomorrow?”
Say “Row; is the word row hidden in the
word tomorrow?”
Say “Mar; is the word mar hidden in the
word tomorrow?”
9. Have the child tell you which part of the
word is missing; e.g. say “va ca tion .” Now
say “cation”. Ask the child which part is
missing.
10. Have the child say the word without a
specific syllable; e.g. say “Say vacation.”
Pause and wait for a response. Say “Now say
it again but don’t say va.”
77
11. Have the child find the hidden beginning
sound of a word; e.g. say “Does the word
mat begin with /m/?” Say the letter sound
not the letter name.
12. Have the child tell you which sound is
missing in a word; e.g. say “Say many.”
Pause and wait for a response. “Now say
any….. What sound is missing?” You are
looking for the sound, not the letter name.
13. Have the child say a word and then omit a
sound; e.g. say “Say dart…..now say it again
without the /d/.”
14. Have the child find the hidden final sound
of a word; e.g. say “Say make.” Pause and
wait for a response. “Does the word make
end with a /k/ sound?” Use a variety of
words, some ending with /k/, some with /k/
in the middle of the word, and some with
no /k/ sound.
15. Have the child identify the missing final
sound of a word; e.g say “make” ..now say
“may.” Ask the child to identify the
missing sound.
16. Have the child say a word omitting the final
sound; e.g. say “Say pleat. Now say it
without the /t/.”
17. Have the child substitute the beginning or
final sound; e.g. say “Say table…now say it
again, but instead of /t/ say /k/.” “ Say lace.
Now say it again, but instead of /s/ say /t/.”
18. Have the child substitute the initial
phoneme of a consonant blend; e.g. “Say
drip. Now say it again, but instead of /d/ say
/t/.”
19. Have the child substitute the second
phoneme of a consonant blend; e.g. “Say
flee. Now say it again, but instead of /l/ say
/r/.”
20. Have the child omit the final syllable in a
three-syllable segmentation; e.g. “Say
acrobat. Now say it without bat.”
21. Have the child substitute either a short or
long vowel in the medial position of a word;
e.g. “Say spit. Now say it again, but instead
of /i/ say /o/.”
78
22. Have the child blend three-or four-letter
words; the teacher says /k/ /a/ /t/ and asks
the child to put the sounds together to
make a word.
23. Have the child segment the sounds in a
word; e.g. “Say skin . Now say each sound in
the word…/s/ /k/ /i/ /n/. ” Make sure the
child has given the sounds and not the
letter names.
24. Have the child identify rhyming words; e.g.
“Do pan and man rhyme?”
25. Have the child produce his or her own
rhyming words; e.g.“Give a word the rhymes
with bat?”
q
Accommodations
Division of long assignments into parts
q
Memory Devices:
q
q
Individual/personal schedule
q
Charts, tables, number lines
q
Organization mentor
Outline provided for all special projects
q
Calculator
q
Mnemonics
q
Visual organizers, outlines, maps
q
Extra set of texts for home
Tutorial Assistance:
q
Tactile kinesthetic materials
Peer tutor
q
Note Taking:
q
q
Noon-hour or after-school tutoring
q
Near rather than far point copying
q
Mentoring
Verbal notes on tape
q
Testing/Evaluation:
Photocopied notes
q
q
Student note taker
q
Point-form notes
q
Scribe
q
Key words and phrases only
q
Peer helper
Small group
q
Quiet alternate setting
q
q
Word processor for notes
Adjusted test format (multiple choice,
true/false, etc.) in lieu of essay
Open book
Teacher’s copy of notes provided
q
Written Language/Spelling:
q
q
Access to computer
q
Access to computer with spell check
q
q
q
Scribe
Adjusted expectations for length of
assignment
Spelling not counted in daily work or test
situations
q
Oral testing
q
q
q
Reading:
q
Extra time ( usually time and a half)
q
Evaluation of daily work only
q
Taped novels
q
Frequent short quizzes in lieu of exams
q
Taped texts
q
Practice tests provided or examples given
on tests
Provincial assessment accommodations
(see provincial guidelines)
Blank visual organizers provided with test
Word choices provided for fill-in-the-blank
questions
Peer helper for reading
q
q
Large print
Homework/Study:
Written directions read to students
q
q
Organization:
q
q
Monitoring of student agenda
q
q
Colour coding of notebooks
Personal calendar/time line assistance
Test outline and preview provided
q
q
Mentor
In-school study program
Reduced number of assigned questions
q
Extra time for project completion
Alternate format to written assignment
79
Suggested Websites
Videos:
LD Online:
This is an excellent source of information on the
topic of learning disabilities. Each week it
provides articles on a particular theme related to
learning disabilities on its web page. You also
have the opportunity to link with a FAQ page,
in-depth articles, first-person stories, or a bulletin
board.
www.ldonline.org/index.html
The following videos are available from WETA
Videos,
22-D Hollywood Ave., Ho-Ho-Kus, NJ 07423
CEC: LD
This is the website for the Learning Disabilities
division of the Council for Exceptional
Children. Some articles are available from this
source. It gives links to related sites.
www.bgsu.edu/colleges/edhd/programs/DLD
CLDA
This is the main page for the Learning
Disabilities Association of Canada.
http://educ.queensu.ca/~lda/maine.htm
CAPD
This is a general webpage on Central Auditory
Processing Disorder that will give links to further
information.
www.theshop.net/campbell/central.htm
CHADD
This is the main webpage for the Association for
Children and Adults with Attention
Deficit/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder.
www.chadd.or g
Fast ForWor d
This is the main webpage that gives information
on the program FastForWord
www.scientificlearning.com/html/educators/
prointro.html
80
“How Difficult Can This Be?”
Lavoie
with Richard
“Last One Picked..First One Picked On” with
Richard Lavoie
“When the Chips Are Down” with Richard
Lavoie
For further information on Attention Deficit
Disorder, the following videos, available from Child
Management, Inc , Carol Stream, IL, are
suggested:
“All About Attention Deficit Disorder Part I:
Symptoms, Development, Prognosis and
Causes” with Thomas Phelan
“All About Attention Deficit Disorder Part II:
Diagnosis and T reatment” with Thomas Phelan
Other Resources:
The Academy of Reading program is available
from Autoskill International Inc., Ottawa,
Canada.
The Fast ForWor d program is available from
Scientific Learning Corporation, Berkley, CA.
For more information on phonemic awareness,
see the following:
• “Phonemic Awareness in Young Children” by
Marilyn Jager Adams et. al., Paul H. Brooks
Publishing Co. Baltimore, Maryland, 1998;
listed in the current Instructional Resources
catalogue.
• The Test for Auditory Analysis Skills
(TAAS) included with the forms in this
booklet is from “Helping Children Overcome
Learning Difficulties” by Jerome Rosner, Walker
and Company, New York, 1979.
• The Phonological Awareness ProfileTest
from LinguiSystems. Contact 1-800-PRO
IDEA
For more information on P.A.T.-Spell Read ,
contact Heritage Court, 95 Foundry Street, Suite
114, Moncton, N.B. E1C 8N8
For more information on The Gift of Dyslexia ,
contact New Discoveries in Learning, P.O. Box
1019, Windsor, CA 95492
For more information on Reading Reflex ,
contact Read America, Inc. or ask for ISBN
number 0-684-83966-0 at a local bookstore.
For more information on Early Success , contact
ITP Nelson, 18 George Samuel Drive,
Hammonds Plains, N.S. B4B 1L9
For more information on assessment materials,
refer to the “Testing Materials Resource Book”,
M.D. Angus & Associates, Ltd., Canada, 2nd
Floor, 2639 Kingsway Ave., Port Coquitlam, B.C.
V3C 1T5
Learning Disabilities Association of New
Brunswick, 420 York Street, Fredericton, N.B.
E3B 3P7. Phone: (506) 459-7852
Dolch Sight Word Lists are available from DLM
Teaching Resources, 1 DLM Park, Allen, Texas,
75002
81
Answer Key for Examples of
Processing Difficulties
Example of Difficulty with Visual
Processing when Reading
Do you remember the story of the Three Billy
Goat’s Gruff? There was a big billy goat, a middle
size billy goat, and a little one. When they wanted
some nice green grass, they would walk across
the bridge to a field where the grass was tall and
green. But guess who lived under the bridge?
Yes, it was a troll.
Example of Language Deficit when
Reading
1. The main characters were Blix and Splox.
2. They grummed blantily as they bronted along.
3. Blix and Splox were sniped because the cront
was jilp.
4. They were sniped with their bluxy drant.
Example of Difficulty with
Comprehension of Visual Material
Little Red Riding Hood
(Here’s a little fairy story telling other words –
words which are altogether different from the
ones in the original version)
Once upon a time there was a little girl who lived
with her mother in a little cottage on the edge of
a large, dark forest. This little girl often wore a
pretty little red cloak with a little red hat, and for
this reason people called her Little Red Riding
Hood.
One morning Little Red Riding Hood’s mother
called her and said, “Little Red Riding Hood,
here’s a little basket with some bread and butter
and sugar cookies. Take this little basket to the
cottage of your grandmother who lives on the
other side of the……”
82
Bibliography
Books and Manuals
Alberta Education. Special Education Branch.
Programming for Students with Special Needs:
Teaching Students with Learning Disabilities.
Edmonton, Alberta, 1996.
Catts, Hugh and Tina Vartiainen. Sounds
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