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Carol-Ann Kinane - Mentor Teacher

By: Carol-Ann Kinane

Learning Board Game

Carol-Ann Kinane graduated from Marist College in Poughkeepsie, NY in 1989 with a Bachelors Degree in Psychology and Education. She became dual certified through a Marist/Vassar College program for elementary and special education. Carol-Ann started working at a small private school called Suffolk Child Development Center in Huntington, NY working with autistic students ages 3-8 years. In 1991, Carol-Ann completed graduate school at Long Island University with a Masters in Reading. She started teaching at Huntington Schools as a special educator and has been there ever since. She is in her 12th year with Huntington Schools and she has taught grades K- 6. Currently, Carol-Ann teaches in a 6th grade inclusion class with a team of Language Arts/Math, Social Studies and Science teachers. Carol-Ann Kinane moves with the entire class to each teacher and co-teaches with each throughout the day. Her philosophy of teaching is simple. All students can learn. You just have to teach to their strengths while working towards building their weaknesses. Respect is another key. If you expect to be treated with respect and hope for a respectful classroom, then you have to model and treat all students with respect as well.

Individual Learning Style

Individual Learning Style

Teaching tip:

Communicate. Conference with students. Be a real person to them on an individualized basis as well as their mentor, teacher etc...while conversing about an academic topic or assignment. Praise whenever possible. I use Friday folders to communicate to the parents and reinforce to the kids what was shared during conferences. In the folder is a sheet where I check off behavior, completed or incomplete/late assignments and effort. Then in the space beneath that I write a few sentences. It could be a reminder to work on something, a compliment or a request for a conference with student and parent. The parent signs and returns the form to me on Monday.

What is your strategy for working with students with LD and/or ADHD?

I am strong supporter of positive, cooperative discipline using corrective, preventive and supportive strategies. I believe that students may not always remember what you teach them, but they do remember how you treat them.

I have developed reward systems to encourage positive behavior. I use both group and individual plans.

  • I try to state everything positively. For example, instead of stating that we will not curse, tease or taunt classmates, I remind my students that mounds of compliments cannot replace even one insult. I explain that we will only use kind words with one another in our classroom.
  • I empathize with my students when they are frustrated or having a problem.
  • I use private cues to communicate reminders to my students ( i.e. stating their name within a sentence or phrase, using a gesture like running my fingers through my hair, clapping my hands together and saying, "Okay, let's go on"…).
  • I set limits in my classroom and try to provide a firm, structured yet nuturing environment with consistent routines.
  • I try to reduce distractions whenever possible. I play classical music or soothing nature sounds to drown out hallway noise, draw the blinds when workers are in the yard…

What are two questions that parents and students often ask?

A. I have often been asked what causes LD and/or ADHD. My response is short, simple and direct. LD and/or ADHD is not caused by a particular parenting style or other factors. Some students are simply born with it and quite often inherited. I then tell them that it may be a lifelong condition but can be managed with compensation techniques, hard work and support.

B. I have also been asked by others what the characteristics of an attention deficit disorder can be categorized as. I most frequently see that these students often have a short attention span, impulsivity, hyperactivity, noncompliant, aggressive behaviors, fidgeting and/or a combination of those listed.

Observing  behavior and participation

Observing behavior and participation

Are there any books recommended?

Yes, I highly recommend the following readable, practical books:

Albert, L. (1996). Cooperative discipline. Circle Pines, Minnesota: American Guidance Service.

Kajander, R. (1999). Living with ADHD: A practical guide to coping with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. Minneapolis, Minnesota: Institute for Research and Education Inc.

Rhodes, G., Jenson, W. and Reavis, H. ( 1992). The tough kid book: practical classroom management strategies. Longmont: Colorado: Sopris West, Inc.

Cooperative Learning Acitivity

Cooperative Learning Activity

What specific teaching strategies do you recommend?

  • Teach relaxation techniques (deep breathing, visualization…).
  • Teach students to stop and think as a problem solving strategy.
  • Allow student to fiddle with small object (eraser, pen cap…) as this may help with focusing.
  • Use alternative methods of assessment (i.e. oral presentations, picture responses, charts and graphs…).
  • Teach study skills. Never assume that a student knows how to study appropriately (oral repetitions, mneumonics, organizers and outlines…).
  • Use a VAKT (visual-auditory-kinesthetic-tactile approach to teaching lessons: study carrels, stand at music stand during lessons to allow for small movement, have messengers, use an exercise bicycle if appropriate…) in order to reach all learning styles.
  • Teach the student their particular learning style using questionnaires, surveys or student-teacher conferences.
  • Use colored overlays if helpful over reading materials (Marie Carbo).
  • Teach the student their strongest multiple intelligences having the students make a picture sketch of the sections of their brain after hearing some descriptions of each intelligence.
  • Restate summary of the lesson often, provide outlines of important points, or audio tapes of printed material.
  • Seat student near teacher for close proximity.
  • Use humor whenever possible.
  • Reinforce appropriate behavior (catch them being good).
  • Be proactive. Directly teach and coach social skills (appropriate conversational skills, maintaining eye contact, body language messages, nodding…) and use cooperative learning or partnerships within the classroom for variety and to reinforce these necessary skills. Allow for practice/ time for interactions with others to occur.
  • Try to bring about an awareness of disabilities to all students about themselves, peers… (read literature, develop hands-on stations, role play, allow for observations…).
Multiple Intelligence Activity

Multiple Intelligence Activity

All students' photos are used with parents' permission.

Carol-Ann Kinane (2002)