Help Kids With Learning Disabilities Shoot for the Moon

These classroom strategies will help kids with learning disabilities achieve success.

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Help Him Aim High

How can children with learning disabilities reach their full potential in school? Check out these top-rate techniques for helping students with learning disabilities learn in the general classroom.

1. Divide and Conquer

Separate the material into smaller, more manageable units. Divide the topics of a given lesson and teach them as brief mini-lessons. The American Revolutionary War could be broken into smaller lessons that each teach a cause of the war. Then, the teacher can provide additional "mini-lessons" for children with learning disabilities.

2. Preview and Review

Always present the lesson in an organized and logical manner. Provide an overview of topics and preview the big picture before beginning a new unit. When learning a new topic, review what was already learned and connect that with what the kids are learning now.

3. Get Creative With the Curriculum

Each student learns in a unique way, and it is important to utilize each student's strengths to help him master material. Focus on helping the student learn the events of the Revolutionary War rather than making it a reading lesson. Supplement or replace a textbook with audiotapes, easier to read books, or study notes. Act out the Boston Tea Party as a dramatic role play. Use as many activities and lessons as possible that utilize auditory, kinesthetic, visual, and tactile modalities.

4. Learn and Repeat

Learning is not a one time event where children must learn a concept the first time it is presented. After a whole-class lesson, students with learning disabilities can be provided extra lessons to reteach concepts. Present lessons at a slower pace and use simpler materials. Integrate visuals like maps, charts, diagrams, and photographs.

5. Picture It!

Some students learn better by listening, and others learn best by seeing. Visualize the information in a simple snap-shot. Graphs and charts simplify and support the material. Visuals can: Accentuate key points. Show relationships between subtopics and important persons. Assist students to remember key concepts.

6. Cue and Prompt

Prompt students to remember essential information with subtle hints and reminders. Underline and color code visual material. Clue students into the important parts of lessons by repeating key concepts and saying "remember this," or "know this for the test." Use your hand to point to parts on a chart or graph or show numbers with fingers to supplement saying, "first," and "second."

7. Get Students Engaged

Bring lessons to life by making students active participants in their own learning. Instead of lecturing ask students to actively debate a contested topic. Pose a question and have students discuss answers with a partner through "Think-Pair-Share." Make lessons more interactive with pictures, charts, and real objects.

8. Adapt and Alter Assignments

Level the playing field by adapting the work you want students to produce. Allow students with disabilities to use their books during tests. If a student has difficulty organizing information make exams multiple choice or true and false. Ask questions that appear at the end of the textbook chapter. Provide possible page numbers where answers can be found. Supplement lessons with fill-in-the-blank notes.

9. Alter Requirements (Without Watering Down the Content)

Alter requirements without watering down the content. If needed, give less questions per page and extended time on exams. Open-ended response questions allow flexibility with grading. Give credit for understanding the main concept even if it is not communicated as eloquently.

10. Give Him the Chance to Shine

Is the task written? Presented orally? Acted out as a dramatic representation? Visually displayed as a diorama? Each of these modalities are different ways of expressing the same content. Give students the choice of how to present their knowledge so they can highlight their strengths.

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