Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Article Reviews

Based on articles #1 and #2:
What are the social and mental implications for children with learning disabilities?
The mental and social implications for children with LD's is that these children can be and are effected by a number of emotions and self concepts that isolate and frustrate them from having normal happy lives. Children with LD's can suffer from anxiety, depression, and low self concept. This makes it difficult for the children to have self worth and engage with other children. The children suffer from feeling stupid, incapable of learning, frustrated, and depressed. These emotions separate the children from social activities and developing normal social skills.

Think back to when you were in school. What strategies do you remember teachers using (academic or behavioral). Think about how a child with a Learning Disability would respond to these strategies. Explain and comment. One of the ways that teachers I had dealt with children with LD's was to include them in group work and peer tutoring or partners. This was a nice way for children with LD's to be involved in the classroom and be included in activities. This strategy also freed the teachers from having to be constantly over the shoulder of certain students.

How will you refine your practices to address the social needs of students with disabilities? There are a few areas in which I would focus on social skills and acceptance. First would be to build teams or partners in the classroom for children to work together and develop communication skills. As well I would praise students strong skills so the class knows that each person brings has positive traits. Letting the class know what a person is good at makes them more accepted among peers. Lastly, model good social skills and personal skills with the class; proper manners; kindness; tone of voice; acceptance of each individual.

Based on Article #3:
How has the evolution of medical technology changed the way we look at disabilities? The evolution of technology has allowed researches and doctors to pinpoint certain learning disabilities and malfunctions of the brain. By being able to determine low functions in certain areas of the brain doctors are able to determine if disabilities such as dyslexia could be present and the earlier any disability is diagnosed the earlier intervention can be used to help overcome the disability.

What implications will this new outlook have on teaching and mandated legislation?
Legislation can provide more money for testing as well as providing programs and strategies to teach children with LD's. Research has already led to effective ways to teach reading, including a focus on phonetics, and patterns of reading that effect certain areas of the brain. Teachers will be able to provide alternate lessons for children with certain disabilities to best suit their learning.

Based on Article #4 and #5:
The disproportionate representation of Culturally and Linguistically Diverse children in special education is a significant issue in education. After reviewing the article:

List some of the issues surrounding this topic? The articles discussed a number of issues that both states and school are facing when dealing with students from different cultures and linguistical origins. The major issue is how to compare students when the majority of the tests are in English and this might not be the students first language. Majority of schools in the US only teach in English and for a immigrant student who cannot speak English schools might assume they are LD when they need to be taught in their original language. The second significant issue is that each state has their own assessment for learning disabilities. There is no federal assessment to determine the LD standards and so there can be varying degrees from state to state. This State assessment becomes blurry given the diverse culture in the US.

Discuss how legislation has attempted to ameliorate this problem: The government has used legislation to try and provide fair and equal representation of each race while trying to deter states from using assessment tools that are inaccurate in their evaluation of different racial populations in special education.

Describe the problem as you see it: The problem is that there might not be enough true data on each section of children with learning disabilities form different cultures and languages. Because we are an English speaking country and most likely will always be, we expect people to conform. I believe that conforming is fine, but there must be a justifiable transitional stage that includes minorities and English language deficient students to be included into our free public education. To provide that transitional stage you must have a national assessment of each cultural group that best represents the groups needs for education to move towards inclusion in English speaking classrooms whether it be Gen Ed or Special Ed. There must also be a move for the correct representation of each cultural or racial group within special education.

Make a suggestion…What is the solution as you see it? Provide education for each culture and race as best possible. If that means providing education in Spanish during a transition to English then that might be a start to finding and appropriate standard for cultural education in America. My thought is that most of the non-English speaking students are not stupid, they just cannot speak or read the English Language.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

How Children Learn to Read

In response to the Article:
The article gave a good review of the two different types of basic reading instruction. In my current job assisting at the Charter school we use a combination of both whole and phonics based reading. This is with a 5th grade Special Ed classroom and the students are very low readers. The instruction is based on phonics. We work on the students learning long and short vowel sounds and blending the sounds in words. We use a number of activities including sight words flashcards and a game called chunks which gives the first few and last few letters on different cards and the students have to match the cards to make real words. This helps them practice sounding out the words and decoding the letters. The students due well with the phonics portions. As well as the phonics lessons we have a weekly story that we read together as a class four or five times. We listen to the story each morning, and then the students practice reading the story aloud to the teacher or in groups where they can help one another sound out words. We place advanced readers with lower readers. The blending of these two techniques works well and the students have shown considerable improvement in their reading this year. I believe that building a foundation with the phonics is the best way to introduce children to learning their letters, sound, and how to read.

In response to the Video:
I watched the video on Mapping the Brain where the researcher spoke on the correlation between brain activity and dyslexia. If this type of testing is truly effective it will be nice to see children's learning disabilities caught at a younger age and the appropriate interventions can be used to correct reading difficulties. It is amazing that only a millisecond of delay in the hearing of a sound can cause such a difficulty with reading. It makes sense as our brain's decode and analyze so quickly that any delay can cause confusion and disorder in understanding.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Missunderstood Minds Homework Questions

Additional Comment: Response to homework Questions

a. The simulation made you feel confused. It was difficult to concentrate on the task and really difficult when additional distractions were added to the mix. The simulations gave you a good understanding of just how difficult it is to perform an easy task when you are distracted or unable to focus.

b. The conclusion would be that children with disabilities will need clear instructions, given at a pace that is understandable. Asking the child if they understand the instructions and if they have questions about the task. As well, teaching at the level of the student.


Missunderstood Minds:

The activities were a very nice way to show how certain disabled persons experience the world and learning. Each of the different sections had activities I enjoyed and some I did not totally understand the logic. The Activity I enjoyed the most was in the Attention Section #2.

The goal was to place shapes with colors over other shapes and colors. The activity started out easy, but then became very difficult as the teacher quickened her responces. The next distraction when other children started talking and the teachers voice almost disappeared was very difficult. I tried to close my eyes and focus on her voice but it easily got lost. I placed 6 out of 9 shapes correctly. This activity was a nice example of how some children can do well when the instructions are clear and at a good pace, but when the pace is increased and distractions start, it is easy to see how difficult it would be to stay on track.

The activities really displayed atributes of these diabilities well. I thought the writing portions and reading activities were difficult when you see some of the disabled modifications showed how hard it is for people with disabilities to understand even letter recognition and word structure.

It was a good exercise and makes you appreciate that all of us who are able to function at a high level really are blessed when you see how difficult it could be.