Best practices that help students with learning disabilities consistently focus on early intervention not only for educational benefit, but also because early intervention promotes greater social skills ability and development among children (Wong & Donahue, 2002). The sooner a child is integrated into the mainstream system and learns to "cope" with any perceived "deficits" the more likely they are to build healthy and long-lasting friendships that will help them as they age to become contributing members of society (Wong & Donahue, p. 93).
Personnel Implementing Plan
The key school personnel to implement this plan include the parents of the student, who must reinforce the actions taken by educational authorities to enhance student learning; the teacher of the student, who must be aware of what a student's needs are, and of special educational resources, so he or she may integrate the two curriculum's without disturbing any student's learning; and administrators, who must approve changes in the curriculum so they reflect the needs of traditional and special needs students in the classroom. Personnel will need to work closely with the teacher's aid to assist the student learner with the assignments given below. They will do this by reviewing the oral material the student dictates into the learning software that transcribes information for the student. The teacher's aide will help with programming of the software so that it learns to recognize the student's "voice" appropriately, so it is less likely to record inaccurate information.
Sample Lesson Plan Overview
The sample lesson plans developed must follow best practices, which would include (a) utilizing an effective teacher in the classroom, one that is knowledgeable of learning disabilities, (b) integrating "key instructional components" into the learning disabled child's curriculum, and encouraging traditional students to partake of special learning tools the special needs student might needs, and - "differentiated instruction" for students that have a learning disability (King-Sears, Boudah, Goodwin et al., 2004). Also important will be the need for teacher's to provide "explicit" instruction to students, so they may assist with "bridging the gap" that currently exists in research, practice and knowledge of learning disabilities (King-Sears, Boudah, Goodwin, et al., p. 77).
Two lessons plans on how instruction was differentiated for this student in the class are the sample writing report lesson and the sample writing poetry lesson plan, both of which will challenge the traditional learner and in this case, the learner that has difficulty writing.
Lesson Plan 1: Research Report
Objectives - the objectives of this assignment are to write a research report about a person the student admires. The student may select any person they want, but must submit the name of the person for teacher approval prior to writing. There is no change in objective for the traditional learner vs. The learning disabled student.
Materials - the student will be asked to collect books and articles on the subject of their report from the library. The teacher will accompany students to the library, and assist the special education student with selection of materials suited to their ability. All materials from other students will also be approved by the teacher. There is little change for the learning disabled child here, except the teacher or teacher's assistant will review carefully the materials selected by the student to make sure the student has the abilities and resources necessary to interpret the information collected. Rather than take notes of the written material, the student will dictate any thoughts he has about the lesson into a small recorder he can then replay later, so he is more likely to remember what he needs to write about.
Outline - the teacher will then ask all students to submit an outline that will touch on the information they plan to report, including a background or history of the person selected, the reason they were selected and how they inspire the student. The teacher will require the learning disabled student use the dictation application software to assist them with "writing" their outline and their report. The teacher will review the outline and approve. If needed, the teacher will appoint a "tutor" to assist the learning disabled child to oversee his work while completing his outline and final report. The learning disabled child will have to orally provide his outline to the teacher and hand in a dictated report to ensure the teacher is happy with the outline and willing to allow the student to continue to the report writing phase of the assignment.
Expansion - Once the student has completed a teacher-approved outline, they should follow their outline exactly, expanding on the subjects included in the outline and explaining how they are important to the paper. The teacher will encourage students to first come up with a main idea, and reason why they selected the individual they admire, and then ask them to expand on this. As this will represent a challenge for the learning disabled student, they will work closely with their tutor to ensure the thoughts "spoken" by the student are correctly "translated by" the software application. This is the only accommodation that needs to be made for the student. The student with the learning disability may ask for extra time to complete the assignment.
Grading - for both this assignment and lesson plan 2, the teacher will account for the student's learning disability when grading. The teacher will talk with the student about inaccuracies or material that is not well stated to review whether the student made an error that a student might normally, or whether the error was related to the learning disability, so the child is not graded in a way that will offer him extra perks, but also in a way that is fair to other students in the classroom.
Lesson Plan 2: Writing Poetry
Objective - the objective or purpose of this lesson plan is to write a unique poem, 10-15 lines long, that reflects the reasons the student admires the person they selected for lesson plan 1.
Materials - the student will need notes from class and their report to review prior to writing their poem. They will also use the student text on writing, section on "poetry" for guidelines about poetry writing including style and rhythm. To accommodate the learning disabled student, the teacher will provide notes or the student may use the oral notes collected from the previous reading material and translate those notes into poetry.
Expansion - the child will pretend they are a close relative of the person they selected to write about, and write down a short poem that reflects their feelings about the subject. This poem will include concepts learned in the classroom. The teacher will provide examples on paper and orally in the classroom to help the students better understand how "poetry" is different from writing reports or narratives about a subject. The class will be encouraged to practice reciting poetry out loud in the classroom to get a better idea of how good poetry is written.
The learning disabled student will be asked to present their poem and the information collected for the piece either (1) orally, as a presentation to the class (so the student does not have to tackle another writing assignment back-to-back) or the student can select to have the tutor assist them with putting their thoughts to paper in a logical order. This assignment will prove challenging to the student but also motivating. All children will be required to read at least 10 poems before they write their own poem, so they have enough information to guide their own writing, and so they have an understanding of the ins and outs of poetry.
Grading - the grading will follow the outline above. The teacher can ask the learning disabled student to provide an oral report or poem to the teacher, so the teacher understands better what the student attempted to express when writing the poem. Grading will take into consideration the extra effort the learning disabled child encountered while attempting to complete this assignment. The child will however, be expected to provide information that is similar to or of a similar quality to other poems provided by other students.
Bradley, R., Danielson, L., & Hallahan, Daniel P. (2002) Identification of learning disabilities: Research to practice. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates.
Brooten, K. (2007) "Writing about the holocaust, writing research report, poetry,"
HotChalk Inc., Retrieved December 13, 2007: http://www.lessonplanspage.com/
Jaffe-Gilla, E., & Benedictis, Tina, Ph.D., (2007) Learning Disabilities: Understanding the types, causes, symptoms, and diagnosis. HelpGuide.org, Retrieved December 13, 2007: