Special needs and special education students have traditionally had more immediate needs in cooperative learning settings when compared to typical students. To be an effective teacher is not always as easy as telling the students to just sit-down and read. Teachers have to understand that there can be less obvious problems at hand like dyslexia, AD/HD, or English as a second language to name a few. When there are underlying issues, both the teacher and the student have to work more closely together in order to reach some desired outcome. "Teaching effectiveness is inferred from the product that was created; it is the product that is the indicator of scholarship." (Cranton, 2000)
This report aims to provide the general background information about a recently completed clinical case study. The underlying object of this case study was to assess a student with some sort of reading difficulty, set up a program to help assess and correct the problem if possible, and then to record the findings in order to evaluate either success or failure. This type of work provides many opportunities to assess personal rewards and also to evaluate intrinsic rewards one expects of him or herself. The ups and downs of teaching an individual with a specific problem or learning disability can bring to light many personal phobias and justifications in the teacher just as easily as it can demonstrate the student's or his or her parent's fears and expectations. Teaching in this kind of one on one setting can make everyone travel the full spectrum of emotions.
The bottom line is that this process provided a fulfilling and serious intellectual reward for all involved. This project entailed a thorough knowledge of the reading process, the ability to demonstrate pedagogical content knowledge and utilizing specialized knowledge of the student's personal learning ability. This scenario also provided an excellent opportunity to utilize various teaching assessment tools in order to diagnosis the reading problems.
To complete the underlying work, a six step lesson plan approach was used because of the simplicity of documentation while still offering efficient implementation skills. "The six standards they propose are that the work should have clear goals, require adequate preparation, make use of appropriate methods, produce significant results, demonstrate effective presentation, and involve reflective critique." (Cranton, 2000) The case study followed this lesson plan approach:
1. Student Data, (i.e. Title, grade, functional level, etc.)
2. Materials needed
6. Enrichment Activities
Student Information & Interview background
The case study centered on an 8-year-old 4th grade student named Eric. M. Eric has followed a normal path from preschool through his current elementary school. According to his parents, Eric has a history of not being able to follow basic instructions and at times being labeled by teachers as too self absorbed or even selfish. This assessment seems to have been based on the fact that play times often entailed him not being able to follow social setting rules. In other words, play time meant he would take toys from other children, he was socially outcast by the other students and therefore he did not engage in reciprocal play. His self-confidence must have taken some serious mental beatings over the course of his educational life because during the initial meeting, he made little to no eye contact, his body language and verbal communication skills seemed distant.
Eric's parents provided a psycho-educational testing result that they had requested when he was 3 because they felt, historically, that his language skills were developing 'only minimally' by that...
The results of this test showed that in several areas, Eric was developmentally delayed by over a full year across the board. He clearly demonstrated that he was a great deal more interested and skilled at visual-motor tasks such as finishing puzzles or building with Lego blocks. The doctors at the clinic that completed the psycho-educational testing felt that at the time, Eric was probably too young to be labeled as autistic but he seemed to be demonstrating autistic like behavior. Later tests revealed that Eric's real reading association problem was that he had Dyslexia.
To summarize, Eric M. exhibits behavior that can be considered to be younger than his actual chronological age; he has difficulty following instructions or simple rules; he does not participate well in social groups settings; he has demonstrated temper tantrums and frustration during these abnormal social peer interactions; he has been diagnosed with Dyslexia.
General problems and materials needed
Eric M. needed to learn how to read. "Of all the things that children have to learn when they get to school, reading and writing are the most basic, the most central and the most essential." (Bryant & Bradley, 1) Reading and writing are not just academic skills, they are the foundation and means of shaping the way a child learns to think and how he or she learns to interact with society as a whole. There is an obvious connection between exposure to the written word and the ability to formulate and to learn new words. Eric's dyslexia was going to affect all aspects of his life if this particular problem was not properly diagnosed, addressed and eventually corrected to the fullest extent possible.
By allowing Eric to read several early readers in a controlled environment and with no other external distractions, it was clear that he had several weaknesses. By listening closely to his reading, it was obvious that he was having trouble with some simple two syllable words. "By second grade his basic tools for reading should be in place. In particular, second grade should see the emergence of a child's ability to read easy multisyllabic words such as rabbit, butter and sleepy." (Shaywitz, 113)
Other shortcomings ranged from his trouble with sounding out unknown words, he made many common reading mistakes in the areas of both phonics as well as assumptive reading, he needed to greatly increase his vocabulary, he would need help with basic sentence context and understanding and he also needed to learn new study skills so that he could apply any new reading or learning techniques into future educational ambitions.
Objectives: Sources and testing information
The objectives of the case study were only a part of the overall assistance that Eric M. will need over the next few years. That is because reading is a process that takes many years to master and although most individuals do not want to admit it, reading is a very complex process. The goal for this progression was to first try to build report with Eric. Next, introducing him to phonics and some basic alphabet sounding skills he may have missed in earlier grades, then incrementally build on those skills with higher and higher levels of reading.
The underlying theme is to adjust these training skills to take into consideration the dyslexia that has made Eric's ability to learn so difficult. "A unanimously acceptable definition for dyslexia has not yet been formulated. In fact, there has been probably been as much controversy over how to define this disorder as over how to treat it." (Clark, 17) In order to teach with dyslexia in the forefront of thought, the following process was used to address reading skills:
1. Step 1 was to recognize words on sight.
2. Step 2 was for Eric to sound out familiar words
3. Step 3 was to analyze the parts of words
4. Step 4 was to concentrate on comprehension
Procedure with diagnosis
It was important to keep the learning process exciting and certainly not boring if and when possible. "When a dyslexic focuses attention on a teacher's lecture, he experiences time at a normal rate of speed. However, if the lecturer is not interesting, he will focus his attention on an alternate reality which he preserves through pictorial thought." (Woods, 9) One on one attention was supposed to be a viable tool in keeping Eric's attention. But, understanding that attention span was limited, work sessions were kept at short 15 minute intervals with 5-minute reviews and multiple 1 to 4-minute breaks between each. The object was to tap that first few seconds of mind energy as often as possible.
Step 1 was taught with 2 approaches tied back to 1. The first approach was for him to incorporate personal experiences into the learning process as often as possible and secondly, a word list was created and used to increase his ability to compare life experiences with actual vocabulary words. Then Eric basically wrote a book combining the two lists and when there were words he did not know he was instructed to draw a picture. The picture was then tied to the actual word and the two were tied mentally through the use of mental anchors.
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