According to the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, specialized instruction involves environmental design and activities that encourage the learner's achievement of skills in various developmental disciplines, including cognitive processes and social interaction. Specialized instruction encompasses curriculum planning and furnishing family support, as educators and parents work together analyzing data to determine need-based teaching methods and strategies. Implementing appropriate modifications and accommodations ideally enhances the student's skill development.
Collaboration allows complementary instruction and learning exercises, and a collaborating special education teacher can provide class-time accommodations to foster learning. These activities provide visual clues, meaning in context and pictures, all of which help transfer skills to real text reading. The special education instructor can assist students with the introduction of new skills to address instructional cues, prompts and class deficits, explain Marilyn Friend and William Bursuck in "Including Students with Special Needs: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers."
To help with text comprehension and difficult vocabulary, an instructor may initiate small groups with peer tutors, who help learning disabled students mentally visualize written material. For example, the teacher models proper use of adjectives and prompts the student with familiar vocabulary using flash cards with reading comprehension strategies. Flash cards reflect main ideas, fact and opinion, cause and effect, word meaning in context and drawing conclusions, explain Friend and Bursuck.
Special education experts suggest placing the student in a resource room -- a separate classroom in a regular school -- for direct instruction on basic skills. Instructors utilize the resource room to teach rules of spelling and basic comprehension strategies. Identified-skills cue cards promote learning as a quick daily review before reading begins, according to Friend and Bursuck. Tactile/kinesthetic strategies such as letter tap/finger spelling enhance comprehension of non-phonetic word spellings.
Co-teaching avoids singling out struggling learning-disabled students, which encourages the classroom climate. A special education teacher can verbally ask the right questions to help the student with instructional cues, but parallel teaching covers the same material simultaneously to two groups. Class division allows more teacher supervision or more opportunity to respond.
Daily comprehension checks and quick reviews help maintain learning, while extension activities based on the learner's current studies facilitate performance. For example, a teacher may offer five vocabulary words to generate a story, and the student can act-out characters in the story to furnish non-verbal assessment. To further student assessment, special educators encourage performances and presentations such as oral reports, interviews and roleplaying. Describing, summarizing and paraphrasing text or stories enhances comprehension, Friend and Bursuck state. Keeping a student log helps promote the use of thinking strategies when reading informative text.
- "Including Students with Special Needs: A Practical Guide for Classroom Teachers"; Marilyn Friend and William Bursuck; 2009
- Developmental Delay Rehabilitation Services; Special Instruction; Joyce van den Berg; 2009
- Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Goodshoot/Getty Images
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