Jenny Mizrahi Education 702.22 Spring 2010 Creating a Better Classroom Environment for Students with Learning Disabilities Introduction Statement of the Problem Literature Review Theorists/Practitioners Statement of Hypothesis References Statement of the Problem There are many issues regarding how to approach a good teaching method in classrooms with students with learning disabilities (LD’s). The belief that all children learn the same way and at the same pace is false and therefore this belief system needs to be re-looked at. Educators today are trying to find successful ways to teach students with learning disabilities. Is there a “best” approach when teaching students with learning disabilities? Literature Review Current literature provides different techniques in which teachers can create a better and easier learning environment for students with learning disabilities. One specific, but broad, technique teachers have been incorporating is the use of current technology tools. Literature Review (con’t) Research has found that the use of technology within the classroom and at home has helped students become more independent when making their own decisions, and students are more actively engaged within the lesson (Kugelmass, 1995; Jeffs, Behrmann, Bannan-Ritland, 2006). Literature Review (con’t) Jeffs, Behrmann, & Bannan-Ritland (2006) add that technology can be just as effective when used at home with the help of parents, if done correctly. They found that children were gaining a sense of independence. The use of technology along with the use of the internet has given these students more reading and writing opportunities they were unable to receive with any other text. Literature Review (con’t) Other examples of integrative technology that can be used in the classroom and/or at home include: – KidTools. This is a system that helps students with learning or behavior problems. Includes strategies and templates especially for the student, teacher, and parents (Miller, Fitzgerald, Koury, Mitchem, & Hollingsead, 2007). Literature Review (con’t) – Computer based reading and spelling. Students with specific reading and writing disabilities were able to improve their disability by constantly copying specific words from the screen. Although copying words from a computer screen has helped children improve their writing skills, it should not replace formal handwriting(van Daal & van der Leij, 1992; Berninger, Abbott, Augsburger & Garcia, 2009). Literature Review (con’t) Another technique includes the use of verbal interaction between peers and educators. Examples of interaction within the classroom include: – Educational games, i.e. word puzzles, board games, card games (Charlton, Williams, & McLaughlin, 2005). Literature Review (con’t) – Class-wide peer “tootling” is a positive peer reporting. Almost as if students are tattletailing on each other but with something positive (Cihak, Kirk, & Boon, 2009). – Encouragement. Show students how the most frustrating things can be easy to deal with, allow time for students to reflect with each other, allow time for a read-aloud, use of audiobooks (Sanacore, 1999). Literature Review (con’t) – Whole Class Lessons. When conducting a whole class lesson, teachers need to make sure that students with disabilities are involved because many times, they will not involve themselves in the discussions (Berry, 2006). Literature Review (con’t) Note to Teacher: steps that can help create a positive learning environment for your students: – Create a positive student-teacher relationship – Reflect on yourself (i.e. biases, perceptions) – Create roles for students in the classroom – Be creative with given resources (Regan, 2009). Theorist(s)/Practitioner(s) Maria Montessori is one practitioner whose work continues to be used worldwide today in the education system. She believed that (a) all children can learn, even those classified as “ineducable,” (b) children should be in an environment where they can “pick up the challenge and to judge their own progress.” Children should be engaged in the lesson, (c) Educator is an observer rather than the teacher. Students become their own teachers (informal education). (Smith, 1997, 2009). Theorist(s)/Practitioner(s) John Dewey is a famous theorist who believed that education should be engaging and create special experiences for students. Dewey believed and was passionate about having an education system where everyone involved can have a similar experience. He also believed that the environment and interactions played vital roles when teaching. (Smith, 1997, 2001) Statement of Hypothesis As an intervention, I will attempt to find out how much the use of technology (i.e. computers and/or internet) can help students with learning disabilities achieve in school. I will conduct this research at P.S. X in a thirdgrade classroom over a five-week period, twice a week for about 30 minutes each day. At the end of the five-week session, I will give the students a written questionnaire asking them how effective the use of technology was for them and how much it has affected their school work and their attitudes towards school. References Berninger, V. W., Abbott, R. D., Augsburger, A., Garcia, N. (2009). Comparison of Pen and Keyboard Transcription Modes in Children With and Without Learning Disabilities. Learning Disability Quarterly, 32 (3), 123-141. Berry, R. A. W. (2006). Teacher Talk During Whole-Class Lessons: Engagement Strategies to Support the Verbal Participation of Students with Learning Disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research and Practice, 21 (4), 211-232. Charlton, B, Williams, R. L., McLaughlin, T. F. (2005). Educational Games: A Technique to Accelerate the Acquisition of Reading Skills of Children with Learning Disabilities. International Journal of Special Education, 20, (2), 66-72. References (con’t) Cihak, D. F., Kirk, E. R., Boon, R. T. (2009). Effects of Classwide Positive Peer “Tootling” to Reduce Disruptive Classroom Behaviors of Elementary Students with and without Disabilities. Journal of Behavioral Education, 18 (4), 267-278. Jeffs, T., Behrmann, M., Bannan-Ritland, B. (2006). Assistive Technology and Literacy Learning: Reflections of Parents and Children. Journal of Special Education Technology, 21 (1), 37-44. Kugelmass, J. W. (1995). Educating Children with Learning Disabilities in Foxfire Classrooms. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 28 (9), 545-553. Miller, K. J., Fitzgerald, G. E., Koury, K. A., Mitchem, H. J., Hollingsead, C. (2007). KidTools: Self-Management, Problem-Solving, Organizational, and Planning Software for Children and Teachers. Intervention in School and Clinic, 43 (1), 12-19. References (con’t) Regan, K. S. (2009). Improving The Way We Think About Students With Emotional and/or Behavioral Disorders. Teaching Exceptional Children, 41 (5), 60-65. Sanacore, J. (1999). Encouraging Children to Make Choices About Their Literacy Learning. Intervention in School and Clinic, 35 (1), 38-42. Smith, M. K. (1997, 2009). Maria Montessori and Informal Education. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-mont.htm. Smith, M. K. (1997, 2001). John Dewey. Retrieved from http://www.infed.org/thinkers/et-dewey.htm. van Daal, V. H. P., van der Leij, A. (1992). Computer-Based Reading and Spelling Practice for Children with Learning Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 25 (3), 186-195.