Tag Archive for 'teaching'

Function-based interventions for LD?

Most readers are likely familiar with the idea that one can, by carefully assessing the antecedents and consequences of a problem behavior, essentially determine what is causing that problem behavior to occur. Given that at least some—many?—students with Learning Disabilities (LD) have some problem-some behaviors, wouldn’t it be cool if there was an evidence base about using functional analysis techniques to document development of procedures for addressing the problem behaviors of students with LD?

In “A Systematic Review of Function-Based Interventions for Students with Learning Disabilities,” Professor John McKenna and his colleagues examined the research literature in search of that very evidence base. They were able to locate only a few studies that met the most rigorous standards, but those studies allowed them to conclude that this idea is a promising one. Here’s the source and the abstract with a hot DOI. I think the publisher (Wiley) may be allowing public access to the entire article, so try clicking on the PDF to download it. (I can’t tell, ’cause I’m working from my office, which has free access anyway; drop a comment to let me know.)

McKenna, J. W., Flower, A., Kim, M. K., Ciullo, S., & Haring, C. (2015). A systematic review of function-based interventions for students with learning disabilities. Learning Disabilities Research & Practice, 30, 15-28. DOI:10.1111/ldrp.12049

Students with learning disabilities (LD) experience pervasive academic deficits requiring extensive academic intervention; however, they may also engage in problem behaviors that adversely affect teaching and learning, thus lessening the potential impact of specialized instruction and supports. The learning deficits of students with LD are prevalent in the extant research, but behavioral needs appear to receive less attention. The authors report the results of a systematic review investigating the evidence-base for function-based interventions for students with LD using the What Works Clearinghouse (WWC) criteria for evaluating single-case studies. Fourteen studies with 17 participants met inclusion criteria, with the majority occurring in elementary settings. Although interventions tended to be effective, few included maintenance and generalization measures. Because of the small number of studies (n = 4) that met WWC design and effectiveness standards, the authors conclude that function-based interventions, although promising, cannot currently be considered an evidence-based practice for students with LD. Implications for practice, areas for future research, and study limitations are reported.

Subtyping LD

Have you been hearing a lot about subtypes of LD lately? Perhaps it’s just that I’ve been especially alert to it, but it seems I’ve heard a lot of mentions about subtypes of Learning Disabilities in the last few weeks. I want to write a longer, more thorough discussion of the topic, but I’ve found myself repeating a few foundational comments, so I thought I ought to post them here and let others have a go at them.

First, the idea of subtypes of LD is essentially a given. It has to do with the heterogeneity of LD. Because LD is essentially an umbrella category for a diverse array of learning disabilities (note the plural), there are bound to be subgroups. Some students will have problems primarily with reading, some primarily with arithmetic and mathematics, some with writing, others with combinations of these. That makes for lots of subgroups right there. That is, one could start with dyslexia, dyscalculia, and dysgraphia!
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Reading comprehension help for ADHD high schoolers

In “Improving the Reading Recall of High School Students With ADHD,” Joseph W. Johnson, Robert Reid, and Linda H. Mason report the results of an intensive study in which they examined the effects of teaching high-school students a comprehension strategy as a part of a self-regulated strategy development model. They found that systematically preparing the students to use what they dubbed the “Think Before Reading” (TWA) strategy helped the students with recall of passages’ main ideas and details connected to them.

Students with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) often have difficulty with reading comprehension. This multiple baseline across participants design with multiple probes study examined the effectiveness of a multicomponent reading comprehension strategy (TWA: Think Before Reading, Think While Reading, Think After Reading) taught following the self-regulated strategy development model on social studies expository text recall of three high school students with ADHD. Results showed improvement in the number of main ideas and percentage of supporting details recalled. Gains were maintained and some improvement occurred at 2- and 4-week follow-ups. Implications for future research and practice are discussed.

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Core standards and LD?

At a meeting I’m attending, folks are discussing the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Common Core State Standards Initiative. Here’s the basics:

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is a state-led effort coordinated by the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center) and the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). The standards were developed in collaboration with teachers, school administrators, and experts, to provide a clear and consistent framework to prepare our children for college and the workforce.

>>snip< < These standards define the knowledge and skills students should have within their K-12 education careers so that they will graduate high school able to succeed in entry-level, credit-bearing academic college courses and in workforce training programs. The standards: * Are aligned with college and work expectations; * Are clear, understandable and consistent; * Include rigorous content and application of knowledge through high-order skills; * Build upon strengths and lessons of current state standards; * Are informed by other top performing countries, so that all students are prepared to succeed in our global economy and society; and * Are evidence-based.

What do readers think about the idea of common standards, especially with regard to students with Learning Disabilities? Good idea overall? Good idea for our kids? Good idea with reservations? What reservations? Send this puppy to the kennel? Why?

Academic positions

For the academics among LD Blog’s readers, over on Spedpro positions are blooming as if the season was spring rather than fall. In the last few months there have been over a dozen announcements of searches for professors posted there, with many of them related to Learning Disabilities.

Remediation changes brain structures

Writing in the journal Neuron, Timothy Keller and Marcel Just reported that they have found changes in children’s neural anatomy that appear to be a consequence of improved reading performance. Whereas previous studies, many of which I’ve mentioned in these posts, have shown changes in the blood flow in children’s brains as a consequence of reading instruction, the findings from Keller and Marcel showed that there are changes in the physical tissue in the brain following remedial reading instruction.

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JLD on professional development


JLD cover

The Journal of Learning Disabilities for September-October 2009 features a special series of articles about the teaching of reading teaching. Issue editors R. Malatesha Joshi and Anne E. Cunningham put together a set of articles by stellar authorities in the area of reading to examine “Perceptions and Reality: What We Know About the Quality of Literacy Instruction.”

Moats, L. (2009). Still wanted: Teachers with knowledge of language. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 387-391.

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Hougen, M., Dahlgren M. E., Ocker-Dean, E., & Smith, D. L. (2009). Why elementary teachers might be inadequately prepared to teach reading. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 392-402.[Link]

Podhajski, B., Mather, N., Nathan, J., & Sammons, J. (2009). Professional development in scientifically based reading instruction: Teacher knowledge and reading outcomes Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 403-417. [Link]

Cunningham, A. E., Zibulsky, J., Stanovich, K. E., & Stanovich, P. J. (2009). How teachers would spend their time teaching language arts: The mismatch between self-reported and best practices. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 418-430. [Link]

Spear-Swerling, L. (2009). A literacy tutoring experience for prospective special educators and struggling second graders. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 431-443. [Link]

Kaiser, L., Rosenfield, S., & Gravois, T. (2009). Teachers’ perception of satisfaction, skill development, and skill application after instructional consultation services. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 444-457.[Link]

Joshi, R. M., Binks, E., Graham, L., Ocker-Dean, E., Smith, D. L., & Boulware-Gooden, R. (2009). Do textbooks used in university reading education courses conform to the instructional recommendations of the National Reading Panel? Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 458-463. [Link]

Stotsky, S. (2009). Licensure tests for special education teachers: How well they assess knowledge of reading instruction and mathematics. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 464-474. [Link]

Lyon, G. R., & Weiser, B. (2009). Teacher knowledge, instructional expertise, and the development of reading proficiency. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42, 475-480.[Link]

Free Current Practice Alerts

It’s sometimes hard to sort through the rhetoric about different methods used in teaching students with Learning Disabilities. However, two groups within the Council for Exceptional Children have made the task considerably easier. In a series of publications now numbering 16, the Division for Learning Disabilities and the Division for Research cut through the bologna to provide quick reviews about the effectiveness of current educational practices. These Current Practice Alerts, which are readily accessible for general readers, cover familiar topics including these:

  • Class-wide Peer Tutoring
  • Co-Teaching
  • Cooperative Learning
  • Direct Instruction
  • Fluency Instruction
  • Formative Evaluation
  • Functional Behavioral Assessment
  • Graphic Organizers
  • High-Stakes Assessment
  • Mnemonic Instruction
  • Phonics Instruction
  • Phonological Awareness
  • Reading Comprehension Instruction
  • Reading Recovery
  • Social Skills Instruction

They are succinct and faithful to the research evidence. They even make explicit recommendations about whether to use the practice. What’s the hitch? Well, they’re free, so see for yourselves.

Link to the Web page listing these resources.

Bogus Bowl II

In case readers of LD Blog missed it, I posted a new version of the Bogus Bowl over at Teach Effectively. This one is about the excuses that people use for not teaching students. As of this writing, there’s a close contest between the excuse of not liking helpful teaching methods and the rationalization that students’ home lives trump teaching. If you haven’t already done so, please jump over there and vote.

Reading fluency

Among the fab five components of reading—phonemic awareness, phonics, fluency, vocabulary, and comprehension—different aspects have seemed to be in the spotlight at different times. Of course, this is just my subjective view, but it seems to me that there was disproportionate focus on comprehension in the ’80s and early ’90s, then on decoding in the late ’90s and early ’00s. Recently, it seems that everyone’s talking about fluency.

Although I think that a disproportional focus on fluency is a mistake (more on that in a later paragraph), I thought it would be beneficial to have some resources here on LD Blog about reading fluency. So, I’ve assembled a few recommended links here:

  1. Oregon’s Big Ideas resources on fluency by E. Kame’enui and D. Simmons (n.d.);
  2. Reading Fluency Assessment and Instruction: What, Why, and How? by R. Hudson, H. Lane, and P. C. Pullen (2005).
  3. Reading Fluency by N. Mather and S. Goldstein (2001);
  4. Assessing Reading Fluency by T. V. Rasinski (n.d.);
  5. Secondary Students with Learning Disabilities in Reading: Developing Reading Fluency (PDF) by D. P. Bryant, J. Engelhard, & L. Reetz (n.d.; note that I am republishing the document here because I can no longer find it on the Council for Learning Disabilities site);
  6. Reading Rockets has a slew of resources; this link will get you a listing of them;
  7. Screening, Diagnosing and Progress Monitoring for Fluency by J. Hasbrouck (2006);
  8. Reading Fluency: What, Why, and How? by M. Dunn (PDF) (2007).

One of the reasons that we have to be careful about a disproportional emphasis on fluency is that we don’t want to communicate to learners that reading speed and accuracy, even including prosody, are all there is to reading. That is, fluency is just a means to the end of finding the ideas that the text conveys. This should be the idea of “balanced reading,” in my view. To be sure, fluent decoding is critical, but teacher have to shift the emphasis from the early stages when they are showing students how to unlock the coded material to the should-come-soon stages of comprehending the coded content.

Although it may sound like I’m playing with words, I am not. As strongly as I advocate for teaching early decoding skills efficiently and effectively, I don’t want readers to think that I consider decoding the end in itself. More on this another time… it probably deserves a page and perhaps it belongs on Teach Effectively rather than here on LD Blog.