1. Multi-sensory Communication
Using a multi-sensory presentation style enables a student to access the information in a strong modality. Examples:
2. Facilitate Self-Identification
Students will benefit if instructors set up a climate of positive interaction at the very beginning of each semester by announcing in all classes an open invitation for students with disabilities to identify themselves. Advise the students to see you in an office hour; in this confidential setting, ask the student to explain how s/he best learns and what accommodations will be necessary.
If the student is unable to explain his or her learning profile and accommodations, refer him or her to a DSPS specialist for assistance.
It is a good time to remind students of the DSPS classes that support instruction from instructors' content classes. These include classes teaching strategies to support the learning process in reading and writing (DSPS 77), math (DSPS 66), technology (DSPS 55), and self-advocacy (DSPS 44).
3. Time Management Aids
Providing students with an informative syllabus with definite due dates for assignments and exams helps them to plan their time. Processing deficits cause students with learning disabilities to take more time than non-ld students to complete assignments. Thus, the more lead time they have, the better chance they will have to manage their study time and make arrangements for special accommodations, such as textbooks on tape which may take up to six weeks to obtain. (See "Organizational Tools" on Main Menu.)
Arrange for department tutors and encourage study groups whenever possible. In addition, let students know of other tutoring services on campus, such as the LSS Writing Lab, the Math Lab, and the DSPS Tutorial Lab.
SCALE is a systematic approach to individualizing instruction and outlines important factors to consider when planning instruction. SCALE employs the metaphor of mountain climbing, with the instructor and tutors as guides for those attempting to scale a mountain peak. The page links to an outline of cognitive processing areas.
6. Lesson Preparation
Feuerstein's cognitive map categorizes components of mental acts and is useful for analyzing or evaluating one's lesson plan in terms of the requirements of an assignment. This helps in noticing areas in which subtle changes might be made that make a huge difference for students.
This is my Lesson Plan Considerations that lists in question/text box format many of the significant factors that contribute to a positive learning experience for all students. It is part of Riverside CC's online 4faculty.org site for Professional Development. Here is the shortened version.
For further ideas about teaching, you might check SBCC's Committee on Teaching and Learning's online Teaching Tip database.
7. More Specific Suggestions for Teaching
SBCC's DSPS Instructional Support Newsletter for the Faculty, "Classroom Accommodations for the Student with a Learning Disability", presents the practical "how to" dimension of making your content material accessible.
8. Believe It or Not Statistics
a. How much more do all students remember if they are engaged in the learning process (if they talk in discussion, do a project, participate in an activity) as opposed to listening to lecture?
b. What is the average teacher wait time after asking a question in class (before s/he answers it or calls on another student to answer the question)?
a. About 5 times as much, according to Dr. Richard Paul, Director of the Center for Critical Thinking, Sonoma State University.
b. 1 second, according to Mary Budd Rowe of Miami University. She found that for more comprehensive questions, a wait time of at least 4 to 5 seconds results in a higher quality response. This would also allow the student with an oral language deficit more time to process your question and organize speech.
To gain an understanding of how a person with an oral language or visual perceptual deficit may experience classroominstruction, a video called "F.A.T. City: How Difficult Can This Be?" is available for anyone in the Learning Resource Center. (F.A.T. is an acronym for Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension.)
Teaching methods aimed at making learning accessible benefit all students.
Your Suggestions and Questions
What questions would you like to have addressed about teaching and advising students with learning disabilities?
If you have any general questions for the website or specific questions about scenarios, please feel free to contact Gerry Lewin by e-mail or phone (965-0581, ext. 2343). Mary Lawson, SBCC's LD Specialist, may also be reached at the same number, ext. 2374, Monday through Friday. Susan Hamilton and John Shallenberger are also DSPS LD Specialists.
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