The photographer has carefully situated your students on the risers, and their faces are poised, anticipating the click of the shutter. Just then, the photographer says, "Would the three students with learning disabilities please step aside so I can take a picture? Stephen Elliott, an educational psychology professor at the University of Wisconsin, uses this scenario to illustrate the irony of excluding students with disabilities from district and state school assessments. By including students with disabilities in large-scale assessments, say inclusion advocates, school districts for the first time truly will be held accountable for their education.
While writing poses significant challenges for many students with disabilities, good teaching can help them overcome these barriers. The writing of students with disabilities typically contains more mechanical errors than that of their nondisabled peers and is less polished, expansive, coherent, and effective.
Difficulties may exist because students with disabilities tend to: To help students with disabilities perform at their best on writing assessments, teachers can use the following techniques: Three principles were identified as being critical to effective writing instruction: Although researchers Karen Harris and Steve Graham designed SRSD for students with learning disabilities and other severe learning difficulties, students in general education also have been found to benefit.
With SRSD, students are explicitly taught writing strategies and self-regulation procedures e. Because many students have developed negative attitudes about their ability to write, teachers address student attitudes first. They help students understand that while writing does require effort, making the effort to learn and use the strategy will enable them to write.
Then teachers follow a sequence to introduce and integrate the strategy and self-regulation components of SRSD: This includes providing the rationale for the strategy, explaining each step, and pointing out mnemonics. For example, on an opinion essay, students may plan what to say using the TREE strategy- Topic sentence, note Reasons, Examine reasons, and note Ending.
Self-regulation is built into the strategy. Students learn when to use the strategy. Teachers provide as much support as needed. SRSD is not a pre-packaged model. It can be individualized for students and should be regarded as part of a total writing program.
Let students progress at their own pace. Do not plan to teach a strategy in a set period of time. Point to evidence that shows students are writing better. More than 20 empirical studies have shown that SRSD helps students become better writers.
A rating scale and example essays are not sufficient. Having a strategy to use when prompted to write an essay helps students feel comfortable and enables them to do their best.
In one study De La Paz et al. This expository writing strategy is as follows: Plan-Pay attention to the prompt; List main ideas; Add supporting ideas; Number your ideas.
The mnemonics of PLAN and WRITE remind students of the strategy steps, to plan before starting to write, and to reflect on the qualities of good writing while composing. Positive results were found for students with learning disabilities as well as low- average- and high-achieving writers.
Research is identifying potential roles for these new technologies, such as easing the physical processes involved in writing, helping to manage planning and revising processes, and supporting social interaction and communication.
For example, students with writing disabilities might use speech recognition technology for dictation. For students with learning disabilities in the upper elementary and middle school grades, dictated compositions are substantially longer and qualitatively superior to compositions written by hand or word processor.
MacArthur and Cavalier found that students with learning disabilities produced better essays when dictating to either scribes or speech recognition systems than when they wrote by hand.
Despite the benefits, speech recognition systems place specific demands on students. Users must be trained to speak clearly without extraneous sounds, pronounce punctuation, and correct errors, all of which may interfere with their ability to compose.
Teachers can avoid difficulties by making sure that students: Appropriate accommodations do not provide an unfair advantage. Individualized Education Program IEP teams make decisions about which accommodations and test modifications are appropriate for a student.
Types of accommodation include changes in the time allocated for the test, when or where the test is given, presentation of the test how the assignments are givenand how the student responds.Research shows that students with disabilities can be taught to write and to write better.
This conclusion was borne out in a meta-analysis of research on teaching expressive writing to students with learning disabilities (Gersten, Baker & Edwards, ). The Learning Disabilities Association of America, (LDA) is a nonprofit grassroots organization whose members are individuals with learning disabilities, their families, and professionals who work with them to advance the education and general welfare of children and adults with learning disabilities.
Teaching Guide: Teaching Strategies for Students with Learning Disabilities. There are things that you as a writing teacher can do, so that you do not end up on these frustrated and misunderstood students' long lists of impatient instructors.
Evidence-based Interventions for Students With Learning Disabilities: P., & Flojo, J. (). Mathematics instruction for students with learning disabilities: A meta-analysis of instructional components.
Review of Educational Evidence-based Interventions for Students With Learning Disabilities.
Strategies to Address Specific Learning. Disabilities in Writing. Students with learning disabilities often experience low self-efficacy and motivation for writing (Graham, Harris, & Larsen, ).
When students write about topics that are Assessment and instruction (6th ed.). Boston, Mass: Allyn and Bacon. Abstract. Writing performance for a large number of adolescents, with and without learning disabilities (LD), in the United States is below the level required for success in college and in the world of work.