11 Strategies to Support Students with Disabilities


This article is based on the upcoming Helping Students with Disabilities Succeed course being developed for Atomic Learning by Dr. Theresa Kiley, a former Associate Professor at Argosy University and Western Illinois University, published author, and education conference keynote speaker.  (More about Dr. Kiley.)

Working with students with disabilities can be rewarding, yet challenging. In many situations, a student’s disability is not easily observed. To add to the difficulty, there are a variety of disabilities that general education teachers can often encounter. Regardless, preparing to teach students with disabilities and diverse characteristics is essential for all educators.  Schools must provide academic opportunities for these students that are equivalent to those provided for their nondisabled peers.

To help, here are eleven strategies to help teachers support students with disabilities:

ADD/ADHD

As the number of individuals being diagnosed with ADD/ADHD continues to rise, the need for lessons that are accessible for all students is also increasing. We invite you to consider these suggestions developed by Universal Design:

  1. Provide important information in both oral and written formats.
     
  2. Provide printed materials early in the course to allow students time to read the texts and reference any available software.
     
  3. Avoid last-minute assignment or additional assignments after distributing the course syllabus.

Memory Loss

Memory problems associated with learning disabilities can interfere with storage of new information, as well as the ability to retrieve that information at a later time. In order to assist students with memory issues, here are a few suggested strategies:

  1. Allow students to access memory devices such as lists of background information (e.g., formulas or dates) to be used in problem solving or essay writing.
     
  2. Have students create realistic timelines when studying for tests. Test dates should be listed on a large wall calendar and dates and times reserved for studying should be clearly visible.

Executive Functioning

A few characteristics of students who struggle with executive functioning would be poor time management and planning skills. They may also struggle with paying attention and staying focused. Here are a few strategies to help overcome these barriers:

  1. Help students develop effective schedules that allow them to monitor task completion.  Avoiding procrastination is key.

10 Ideas to Get Started with Virtual Reality in the Classroom

Jumping into the world of Virtual Reality (VR) begins with a basic understanding of what it is. To start, imagine swimming around the ocean, admiring colorful fish, only to turn around to find yourself face-to-face with a shark…

Now imagine students having this same experience while standing in your classroom.

Virtual reality provides teachers the ability to provide an immersive experience where learners can feel as if they are living the content that you are teaching.  THAT is student engagement.

While it’s important to understanding that the difference between reality and virtual reality can be a fine line, particularly for younger students to understand, it is a powerful tool to bring intense learning experiences into the classroom.

To help you get started with simple ways to use virtual reality with students, we’ve gathered a list of ten popular virtual reality tools, apps, and resources together in one place.

Ready to see what’s possible? Read on!

Nearpod     

Nearpod is a mobile learning platform that allows teachers to create and sharing engaging, interactive lessons with their class and collect real time feedback from students. With Nearpod, 360 photos can easily be added into lessons with the click of a button—allowing students to be immersed into the learning content.

A few of our favorite locations to explore within Nearpod include the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Anemone Reef, Flaming Crown at Dusk in Melbourne Australia, and Santorini Greece. Interested in trying it yourself? Check out this sample lesson for a firsthand look.

Related resource: Nearpod Training

 

YouTube™    

Watching videos will never be the same! YouTube™ now offers a variety of virtual reality experiences using 360 videos—see that directional arrow in the upper right corner of the above screen capture? It can be used to change the viewers’ perspective, and, in the sample shown, walk with a Titanosaur dinosaur.

With as many as 360 videos uploaded daily, it can be difficult to sort which are appropriate for classrooms.  For a few of our favorites, check out this playlist of 50+ videos to bring an immersive learning experience into your lessons. Included are swimming with sharks, flying in a fighter jet, and, of course, walking with dinosaurs.

Related resource: YouTube™ for Educators

9 Ways to Foster Collaboration through Cooperative Learning

This article is part of the 12 Days of Learning. Click now to see all articles.

Has the thought of working with a group ever made you cringe? Or have you ever been in a group with someone who just didn’t seem to be interested in contributing OR one person who seemed to take over?

We’ve all been there.

However, being able to collaborate and work effectively in groups is critical to success not only in school, but also in college and the workforce. Luckily there are a variety of cooperative learning strategies that can be applied to foster students’ collaboration skills.

What is Cooperative Learning?
Cooperative Learning is students working in groups or with partners to put together pieces of a puzzle, achieve a common goal, and learn from one another. It’s a powerful strategy to help students learn, get them out of the box, and get them discussing a topic at another level.

Research has shown that students who work in cooperative groups often perform better on tests, and are better critical thinkers. And, if that alone isn’t enough, it’s also said to improve students’ social skills, enhance oral communications, and even heighten self-esteem.

With cooperative learning, it’s also harder for students to fade to the background, and when their contributions are accepted and acknowledged, they are more engaged in the learning experience.

Putting it Into Practice
While there are a wide variety of approaches for cooperative learning, we’ve gathered together a list of nine popular options that you can quickly introduce in your classroom.

  1. Think-Pair-Share
    One of the most commonly used cooperative learning strategies in education today. First the teacher poses a question to the class, and then gives students time to think about their responses individually before having them pair up with a partner to discuss their response. Based on individuals’ responses and perspectives they could learn something new or be challenged with something they’d not previously considered, and have an opportunity to discuss it with their partner before the teacher calls the class back together for pairs to share what they’ve discussed.

    Think-Pair-Share is very easy to use and can be a powerful tool for learning. If you're interested in trying it yourself, you can learn more in Atomic Learning’s Think-Pair-Share course.
     
  2. Prairie Fire
    The Prairie Fire approach is designed to get your students talking in groups about more high-level questions. To start, gather students in groups of 3-5 before posing a question, then give the groups time to discuss and formulate a single group response to share. Next each group quickly shares their answer and learns the correct response before being instructed to continue their group discussion on what was shared, what they may have gotten wrong, and why.

    This approach is a great way to help students practice the group processing component of cooperative learning, including incorporating feedback from other groups.
     
  3. Four Corners
    Start by dividing students into larger groups – say where they stand on an issue, for example, and ultimately directing them to one of the four corners in the room to join a team with similar values, opinions, philosophies, etc.. Then pose a question to answer or assign a task for these groups of like-minded individuals to complete. After allowing time for discussion, have groups share out to the class.  

8 Technologies to Watch

It’s no secret that technologies come and go. In fact, the ever-changing technological landscape makes it incredibly difficult to keep up with the latest and greatest tech trends, let alone plan how new tools can be used to enhance instruction.

The recent 2016 Teaching with Technology Survey, asked participants at educational institutions across the country to predict which new technologies they saw having the greatest impact on education in the next decade.

Interested in which tools made the cut? Here’s a few of their top choices:

  • Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality
    Topping the list were augmented and virtual reality, one of the fastest growing trends in educational technology today. Beyond the cool factor, much of the appeal for education is the ability to go farther and dive deeper into a topic by not just telling students about it, but letting them experience it.

    One of the questions that comes up for those new to virtual reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) is the difference between the two. The short answer is that VR allows you to completely immerse yourself as if you were magically teleported to an alternate location. AR, on the other hand, adds a layer on top of real life—for example viewing a 3D beating heart layered over an Anatomy textbook.

Related Resources:
10 Ideas to Get Started with Virtual Reality
Go Anywhere with Virtual Reality 
Getting Started with Augmented Reality

  • 3D Printing
    Possibly fueled by the already popular Maker Movement, 3D printing ranked as one of the top trends to watch. The option of 3D printing also is being fueled by the demand for STEM focused education, as it allows students the opportunity to apply mathematical processes and engineering concepts while developing critical thinking and problem-solving skills to create something tangible. (And its pretty darn cool, that probably helps.)

Related Resources:
SketchUp for 3D Printing using Google SketchUp
Students as Digital Creators 

7 Learning Styles: Which One Are You?

Whether they recognize it or not, most people have a preferred way of learning. While some learn best by listening (think of those lecture classes in college), others may have to see a concept in action to learn the material (this is where lab work comes in), and the list goes on.

The trick is figuring out your individual learning style and then utilizing your strengths while being aware of your weaker areas.  To help, we’ve worked with Dan Kuemmel, a specialist in learning technology, data visualization, and pedagogy, on an in-depth course on Learning Styles. As a preview, we’ve provided a quick peek at each of the seven types of learners below:

  1. Visual Learners
    These learners turn words into pictures to retain information, and tend to excel with writing assignments and textbook readings. However, they can struggle with information that is only audio-based, such as a lectures or audio-recordings.
     
  2. Logical Learners
    Logical learners thrive on processes, statistics, and making connections between ideas. Puzzles, riddles, and word games engage them, as well as charts and diagrams.
     
  3. Aural/Auditory Learners
    These learners have great recall when hearing information be it a lecture, podcast, spoken directions, or even music.
     
  4. Verbal Learners
    Verbal learners are most easily identified as those that need to ‘talk through’ a problem, either through verbal or written communication. They excel at writing essays and class discussions or debates, but can struggle with math and science concepts.

6 Things College-Bound Students Need to Do NOW

Busy High School Juniors and Seniors can get tied up in the fun spring activities—prom planning, graduation pictures, sports—and procrastinate on a few very important items that they should do sooner rather than later, if they’re planning to attend college after graduation.

To help guide them on the right path, here’s just a few quick points to touch on with your college-bound student(s):

  • Visit a College Campus (or Several)
    Picking a college is a big step. One way to help determine if a school is right for you is to visit—virtually or in-person. Online tours are great if expense or distance is an issue, but keep in mind that video tours are edited to show the campus at its best. If visiting in-person, it’s often recommended to do so during the school year to get an accurate idea of what the campus would be like as a student.

    Related resource: What Should I Look for on a Campus Visit?
     
  • Put Thought Into Your College Major
    With the rising cost of college, it’s not very cost-effective to go in without a focused area of study. And, with a future career-path in mind, students can look into whether or not a college offers the desired course of study. While transferring to another college later is always an option, it’s important to note that not all courses transfer and such an option could delay completion of a degree and increase costs.

    Related resource: How Do I Choose a Major?
     
  • Apply to College(s) of Choice
    While application deadlines vary quite a bit, most seem to expect completed applications for new students in before February. If students have a specific school, or even a short list of schools, in mind, they need to consider any upcoming deadlines. (Coming in late isn’t a good way to get your college career off on the right foot.) Even if a school’s deadline is later than most, applying early may create a buffer to apply at an alternative school if a first choice doesn’t work out.

    Related resource: How Do I Pick the Right College?

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