Reading for Students with Significant Cognitive Disabilities

Saili Kulkarni
Amy Olson
Carly Roberts
March 3, 2012
Today’s Agenda
 Discussion of Culturally Relevant Instruction
 Discussion of inclusive literacy practices
 Explore Materials
 Group Activity
 Questions?
Culturally Relevant Pedagogy (CRP)
Success for ALL
General Strategies that promote
Strategies that are considered inclusive best practice are
also culturally relevant
 Reciprocal Teaching (Palinscar & Brown, 1984)
 Teaching specific concrete strategies that students can
reapply to future learning (summarization,
question/answer, etc)
 Cooperative learning groups (Slavin, 1980)
 Promotes positive race relations in desegregated
schools, improves self esteem, group vs. individual
Culturally Relevant Literacy Practices
 Moves beyond the 3F’s: Food, Fun, Festivals
Teachers who are sincerely committed to multicultural education cannot be satisfied with
superficial celebrations of heroes and holidays. This approach to content trivializes
multicultural education and conveys the idea that diversity issues come into play only
during celebratory moments with foods, fun, and festivals.
 In the multicultural festival model, teachers, students, and parents typically spend lots
of time and energy preparing for an all-school activity. Students may do background
research about a culture, prepare maps, and help create indigenous costumes. Parents may
help to prepare various ethnic foods. On the day of the festival, members of the school
community go from class to class, visiting the various cultures, sampling the foods, and
enjoying dances, songs, and arts and crafts. At the end of the day, everyone agrees that the
annual event has been a great success. Then teachers and students go back to their “real
 In the transformative model, on the other hand, multicultural education is not a
separate, isolated, once-a-year activity. Instead, the regular curriculum includes a range of
cultural perspectives.
Culturally Relevant Literacy
Downing and McFarland (2012)
…recommended practices [for students with severe
disabilities] include: systematic and direct instruction
within natural learning environments; individualized,
meaningful and culturally responsive learning; active
family involvement; collaborative teaming; and
positive behavior support.
--For students with significant disabilities we can use the
same best practices/strategies we would use in
inclusive settings, but we would expand the content of
these general education lessons.
 From my own practice: Fair Trade Chocolate
Expeditionary Learning Project
 General Examples
 Cinderella story from multiple perspectives
 Reading/Writing/Rising Up—modified activities for
students to meet their learning needs
Background Information
 Students must receive instruction that is linked to the
general education content (IDEA 2004)
 Many professionals do not feel this is applicable to
their students with SCD and therefore do not
implement such instruction (Agran, Alper, &
Wehmeyer, 2002)
 Current research suggests that despite this federal
mandate, instruction is still primarily functional
(Karvonen, Wakeman, Browder, Rogers, & Flowers,
Effective Means of Instruction (to
be used with the practices we
 All of these practices have been evidence-based
through research
 Prompting Systems
 Time delay
 Error correction
 Least intrusive prompts
 Systematic prompting
Time Delay
 A method of systematic instruction used for discrete
First the teacher presents an attention cue. Let’s read.
Then presents the task direction. Read the word.
In zero delay, the teacher immediately reads the word.
When the student reads or points to the word, the
correct response is reinforced.
This continues until the student is able to read or point
to the word with the teacher.
Time Delay
 Next, the teacher will give the task direction. Read the
word. The teacher waits for 5 seconds for the student
to respond independently and correctly.
For a correct response: the correct response is
For an incorrect response, the teachers goes back to
zero delay.
The teacher is working to fade the use of prompts.
This system is used to increase the likelihood of
correct responses.
Error Correction
 If the student is going towards the wrong answer, lead
the student to the correct answer.
 Do not label the wrong answer.
 Don’t give a lot of attention to the error.
 When trying again, if the student is going towards the
wrong answer intervene by blocking the error and
guiding the student to the correct answer.
Least intrusive prompting
 Teacher identifies the prompts the student needs to
respond. The prompts are put in order of the least to
the most intrusive (prompt hierarchy).
Least Intrusive Prompting
 Touch the word. (wait 5 seconds).
 If student does not touch the word independently, the
teacher models and gives a verbal response. If the
student does not respond, the teacher gives a physical
 The teacher will move up the list of prompts until the
skill is completed.
Systematic Prompting
 Have a plan for prompting
 Which prompts will be used?
 Develop a plan to fade out prompts
 Specific feedback/reinforcing correct responses
 Method for error correction
Inclusive Literacy Practices
 Adapted Grade-Level Texts
 Shared stories with peers
 Linking functional and academic goals
 Integrating Technology
Adapted Grade-Level Texts
 Adapted grade-level texts are texts that are adapted to
a level that students with significant cognitive
disabilities can access.
 These texts are meant to give an alternate means of
presenting information to students.
 Any text (social studies, essays, novels, etc.) can
adapted for students to use.
Adapting text
Adapting text may include:
 making chapters shorter
 putting less sentences per page
 including pictures above words to assist students in
reading the text
 pictures to illustrate what is happening on that
particular page
 objects to use with the text
Shared Stories with Peers
 Using the adapted text with peers in general education
 Have partners read aloud using a scripted lesson with
the student
 Train the general education peers in the
aforementioned strategies (prompting systems, error
 Can be done in the inclusive classroom
Linking Functional & Academic
 Purposefully creating lessons that link academic goals with
the functional IEP goals
 Involves finding a grade level (CCSS or content area state
standard) or alternative grade level standard in literacy to
focus on
 Linking it in a meaningful way to IEP goals
 Ex: grade level vocabulary (matching word to picture)
matching teacher names to pictures
 Ex: answering yes/no questions about text on grade-level
contentanswering functional yes/no questions on AAC
 Must be done purposefully so that instruction can be
designed to integrate both goals
Integrating Technology
 The following strategies have been shown to be
effective in various research studies…
 Link the use of their AAC with grade level content
 Computer-assisted instruction
 Audio/video recordings
 Interactive whiteboards
 With a small group, take one of the activities listed in
Reading, Writing and Rising Up and talk with your
group about how you might tailor this activity to a
student in your classroom. As a group pick one focus
student and share out what you have decided to do
with your activity to address your students needs by
using a culturally relevant lesson.
Exploring Materials
 Adapted Texts
 Materials (flashcards)
 Sample Lesson Plans
 Here’s an excellent resource…
Contact Information
 Saili Kulkarni
 [email protected]
 Amy Olson
 [email protected]
 Carly Roberts
 [email protected]

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