Meeting the Educational Needs of Diverse Learners<br />By: Felicia Hardin Lewis<br />ASSISTIVE TECHNOLOGY & DIVERSE LEARNERS<br />
Greetings, colleagues! My name is Felicia Hardin Lewis, and I am a proud third grade teacher here at Bancroft Elementary . <br />This year, I have an amazing group of students. Among them are several diverse learners, including three students who have been diagnosed with ADHD, one with an auditory disability, and a number who possess mild learning disabilities. Diverse learners are more commonly referred to as having “special needs.”<br />As such, my challenge/opportunity has been to seek out the most effective resources that will equip and empower me to best meet the needs of all my students in the most equitable way. This is a challenge we should each take on.<br />Introduction<br />
Next, it is important to understand “Special Needs” in the context of an educational setting.<br />The term Special Needs is a short form of Special Education Needs and is a way to refer to students with disabilities. <br />The term Special Needs in the education setting comes into play whenever a child's education program is officially altered from what would normally be provided to students through an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).<br />An IEP is designed to meet the unique educational needs of one child, who may have a disability, as defined by federal regulations, and is intended to help children reach educational goals more easily than they otherwise would.<br />Special Needs in Education<br />
As educators, we are continuously encountering challenges in the quest of teaching. If you have not already, you will at some point have the opportunity to work with students who have special needs. <br />Students with learning disabilities have different learning styles and rates, strengths and weaknesses. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that an Individualized Education Program (IEP) be developed for each child with a disability so that these individual differences can be addressed. <br />Working with diverse learners has its own separate and distinct set of challenges. As such, it is imperative that we equip ourselves with the knowledge and tools that facilitate effective teaching and optimum learning. Assistive technology is one such tool.<br />Working With Students With Special Needs<br />
The Tech Act and the IDEA define an AT device as any item, piece of equipment, or product system (whether acquired off the shelf, modified, or customized) that is used to increase, maintain, or improve the functional capabilities of a child with a disability. AT devices may be categorized as no technology, low technology, or high technology (LD Online, 2001).<br />It is important to understand that it is not the device itself that makes it assistive technology, but how it is used to support individuals.<br />"No-technology" or "no-tech" refers to any assistive device that is not electronic.<br />Assistive Technology for Diverse Learners<br />
In my own class, have employed assistive technology with my diverse learners. Here are a few examples:<br />Students with mild disabilities<br />Grammar and spell-checkers<br />Calculator<br />PDA<br />Students with auditory disabilities<br />Hearing Aid<br />Inductive Loop System<br />FM System <br />Students with ADHD<br />PDA<br />Tape-recorder<br />Laptop<br />Assistive Technology for Diverse Learners (cont.)<br />
As you would imagine, I also have employed resources and tools that do not require technology to assist my diverse learners. A few no-tech examples of this include:<br />Students with mild disabilities<br />Flow-charting<br />Teacher-provided outlines of key points/notes<br />Dictionary/thesaurus<br />Students with auditory disabilities<br />Note taker<br />Up-front seating<br />Sign language interpreter<br />Students with ADHD<br />Note-taking<br />Tutor<br />Organization<br />Assistive Technology for Diverse Learners (cont.)<br />
Resources for Students with Disabilities<br />Disability.gov<br />https://www.disability.gov<br />National Center for Learning Disabilities<br />http://www.ncld.org/Disability.gov<br />AdditionalTools and Resources (cont.)<br />
Extended time for completion of assignments or tests<br />Additional time for reading assignments<br />Time for repeated review or drill<br />Small groups<br />Reduction of paper/pencil tasks<br />Shortened assignments <br />Assignment notebooks<br />Study sheets/summary sheets/outlines of most important facts<br />Supplemental aids (vocabulary, multiplication cards, etc.)<br />Visual demonstrations<br />Presentation of material in small steps<br />Read or paraphrase subject matter<br />Instructions/directions given in different channels (written, spoken, demonstration)<br />Visual or multisensory materials<br />Functional level materials<br />Mnemonic aids/devices<br />Overhead/outline for desk use<br />Taped textbooks<br />Highlighted textbooks<br />Large print material<br />Word processor/spell checker; calculator<br />Assistance with note taking<br />Taped lectures<br />Self-testing<br />Grade only on completed class work<br />Credit for class participation, effort and attendance<br />Additional time for test preparation<br />Review/testing matched to student pace<br />Test directions read/explained thoroughly<br />Fewer repetitive test items<br />Test format allowing more space<br />Oral, short-answer, modified tests<br />Manuscript writing rather than cursive<br />One-to-one contact for at least 10-20 minutes daily<br />Tutoring assistance (peer, pal, teacher, etc.)<br />Assistance with organization and planning of class work and/or homework<br />Emphasis on successes<br />Seating to reduce distractions<br />Frequent breaks<br />Clearly defined limits<br />Cooling-off period<br />Behavior check cards<br />Concrete, positive reinforcers <br />Classroom Modifications and Accommodations For Students With Learning Disabilities This list of classroom modifications and accommodations may be considered when developing the IEP: <br />
Summative assessments<br />Assessments used to evaluate learning after presenting a lesson, unit, or course<br />Formative assessments<br />Strategies teachers incorporate during instruction to monitor student progress toward mastering learning goals<br />Universal design for learning (UDL)<br />Approach to instruction in which teachers remove barriers to learning by providing flexibility in materials, methods, and assessments<br />Recognition networks<br />The neural network in the brain that helps to identify patterns<br />Strategic networks<br />The neural network that controls processes for planning, execution, and monitoring your actions<br />Affective networks<br />Process “the why” of learning that relates to feelings and emotions, and which influences motivation for and engagement with a particular goal, method, medium, or assessment<br />Key Phrases to Remember<br />
Imagine Learning<br />http://www.imaginelearning.com/StudentsWithDisabilities.aspx<br /><ul><li>The Learning Disabilities Association of Texas
http://www.ldat.org/ld_info/accommodations.html</li></ul>Guidelines to choosing Assistive Technology<br />http://www.ldonline.org/article/8088 <br />Overview of Assistive Technology<br />http://uts.cc.utexas.edu/~wilbur/access/assistive.html <br />Assistive Technology for Mild Disabilities<br />http://www.ericdigests.org/2003-1/assistive.htm<br />Examples of Products<br />http://www.synapseadaptive.com/edmark/prod/tw/default.htm <br />Assistive Listening Devices<br />http://www.asha.org/public/hearing/treatment/assist_tech.htm<br />References<br />
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