Teaching & Instruction
Teaching and effective instruction for students with learning disabilities requires specialized knowledge in the areas of spoken language, reading, writing, and math. This section contains readings that reflect knowledge of best practices and evidence based instruction within each area.
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A quality program is so dependent on the excellence of the teaching staff…that really is the key. It is important to hire really good teachers. Fairfax County hires high need teachers, such as special education teachers, under early contracts to make certain they get excellent teachers. Fairfax County also has a good track record in that our students are doing well compared to national standards as well. This helps attract great teachers.
Motivation is key to school success. Just as the actor asks a director, "What is my motivation, for this scene?," the child turns to teachers, parents, and peers to discover the "why" of learning. Motivation is often defined as a need or drive that energizes behavior toward a goal.
Dr. Edwin S. Ellis is a professor of Interdisciplinary Teacher Education at the University of Alabama. He teaches graduate courses in special education and undergraduate courses in the Special Education Collaborative Teacher Program and the Multiple Abilities Program (MAP).
This article addresses issues associated with common pedagogical practices that impede effective development of adolescents with learning disabilities. It also outlines goals, principles, and techniques for "watering up" curriculum and instruction so that intrinsic motivation, internal locus of control, academic and social self-concept, self-esteem, a sense of competence and confidence, an "attack" attitude about challenging tasks, willingness to take risks, and sense of personal potency are fostered.
Many accommodations, though designed to ensure success of adolescents with learning disabilities in content area classes, water down the curriculum by reducing opportunities to learn and emphasizing memorization of facts. This article explores how watering up the curriculum to create "thought-full" classrooms can facilitate achievement of learning and development of deep knowledge structures.
Outstanding teachers, such as those selected for the Milken Teaching Award or those who achieve National Board for Professional Teaching Standards (NBPTS) certification, regularly communicate with the parents of their students. These teachers appreciate the value of home-school communication because experience has shown that understanding the family is essential to effectively work with the student.
Jim Delisle, Ph.D., is a Professor of Special Education at Kent State University, where he directs the undergraduate and graduate programs in gifted child education. Jim is a former classroom teacher, special education teacher, and teacher of the gifted and talented. In 1992, Jim took a sabbatical from university teaching to return to full time teaching. He taught a regular fourth grade class.
The more a new vocabulary word is associated with ideas from students' own experience, the more likely the word will become well 'networked' and a permanent part of memory. Making these links involves elaborating definitions of new terms. This article offers teachers several ways to facilitate elaboration.
Diane D. Painter is a former special education teacher who radiates when she talks about her role in developing teacher- researcher models of training in the Fairfax, Virginia Public School system. Diane has her BS in Elementary Education from George Mason University, her M.ED. in Perceptual Impairments from the University of Maryland and her PH.D. in Special Education Technologies from George Mason University.
Mike Kersjes spent more than a decade teaching students with learning disabilities. His first special education teaching job was in an inner-city school in a cubicle that "barely fit five people," ....a "pitiful excuse for a classroom" that sent "a message to the kids who were taught there: You are worthless." Mike later began teaching at Forest Hills Northern High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
When Mike Kersjes, a high school special education teacher and football coach, read in 1987 a magazine article about Space Camp, he knew his students would love to go. Located at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., the camp allows students to spend six days training and living like astronauts.