Elise's Portfolio Page


Heidi Yorke

Welcome To My Page

Please Note: Here is a link to the class homepage: ETAP 623 Fall 2009


Design Project: Understanding Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabled Student


One of the courses I currently teach is entitled "Children With Special Needs." Within the course I cover learning disabilities over a stretch of a week or so. My perception is that the specifics of learning disabilities, the learning disabled, and how the educator approaches learning disabilities (and the learner disabled) could be a course in of itself. Thus, the need for this design project grew. Through feedback from my students, I recognize the need for a concise study of the topic at hand. To improve my practice and the practices of my students (future educators) I want to create this mini course so that my students and educators alike have a common reference point to refer to concerning learning disabilities and the learning disabled. My intention is to have a variety of resources linked here so that the learners can easily access valuable literature and case studies. My intention is to have the course linked to simulations so that the experiences of all involved can be tapped.

Oftentimes, learning disabilities are generalized. One needs to understand the varied nature of learning disabilities as they cross subject areas and change in and among different learning environments.

  • This is a course for individuals currently working with students that have learning disabilities or have the potential of working with such students.
  • This is a course also for families of individuals with learning disabilities that desire further study on the topic.


  • The Types of Learning Disabilities
  • The Learning Disabled Student
  • The Implications for the general education classroom
  • Case Studies Case Study 1Case Study 2
  • Strategies
  • Resources to access

Update: 11/16

I've been putting together my draft of a course for some time now and have concluded that I will utilize a K-W-L chart as a common page for participants to collectively edit and review to see learning 'happen'. If individuals are adding to the chart periodically I feel it can be quite a window to see other's thoughts, beliefs, and even misconceptions on LD.

In addition, I planned on re enacting some of the simulations as done in the profound "F.A.T. City Workshop" on Learning Disabilities by Rick Lavoie but instead am choosing to embed the video clips throughout the course and ask for reflection after viewing the course. The one simulation I do attempt is with visual perception -- perhaps I would add more if I find it successful with participants.

I am also wondering about linking to a survey on the course and a discussion group... not sure where that can go and if it would be too much.


1. Instructional problem: I cannot think of any area in special education that calls for multidisciplinary research and generates debates as much as specific learning disabilities do. If you do not experience mental retardation, mental disturbances, visual or hearing impairments, or environmental deprivations, the theory is that you should be able to do well in school. (Kirk and Gallagher, 2006) However, there is an increasing number of learners who do not. Thus, the field has the challenge of deciphering between and among students with learning problems and what underscores the problem. Learning disabilities is a hidden disability in terms of that one cannot see or hear it. It is a disorder in one's ability or inability to interpret information, link information, or apply information learned.

2. The Nature of What is to be Learned: Not all learning problems are learning disabilities. That fact needs to be digested. Individuals will learn how the law supports, defines, and organizes specific learning disabilities. There will be an investigation of the nature of the learning disabled and what instructors can do to facilitate learning in such individuals.

3. The Learners: Individuals who will refer to this mini course are current educators, potential educators, individuals in related fields, as well as families with individuals with learning disabilities. Through ETAP 623 there is a varied learner base with varied learner capabilities as well. The users are both intrinsically and extrinsically motivated.

4. Instructional Content: The units will be designed with an introduction and literature review, learning outcomes/ target objectives, activities, response/ reflection through feedback, resources, and a review.

5. Reality vs. Ideal: The ideal is that learners come out of the course with a concrete knowledge base of specific learning disabilities and an understanding of the full and complex experiences of the learning disabled. The learners currently have a limited understanding of the full scope and sequence of learning disabilities and the experiences of the learning disabled as noted from feedback taken in current courses. Unless one has been directly affected by learning disabilities themselves, it is hard to 'put yourself in their shoes.'

6. Goals: Goals for the project revolve around changing perspectives on learning disabilities and developing an awareness of best practices as well as common misconceptions. Goals also revolve around the participants gaining a greater knowledge base of learning disabilities. Finally, goals for the project is for it to have a logical organization in which to present the literature and video references to the F.A.T. City Workshop.



At the conclusion of this mini course, individuals will have a clear understanding of the terms associated with specific learning disabilities in math, reading, writing, and the processing disorders that affect learning. Individuals will have experienced and therefore be more sensitive to the frustrations and anxieties that surround the learning disabled. Individuals will have an in-depth look at strategies involved with teaching the learning disabled and be able to focus in on characteristics that contribute to the frustrations associated with learning disabilities.


Upon completion of this course, individuals will be able to:

  • Define specific learning disabilites in the content areas (reading, writing, mathematical, and processing disorders associated with all)
  • Discriminate characteristics of the learning disabled
  • Draw conclusions about the common misconceptions about the learning disabled and instructional methods
  • Draw conclusions about motivational factors and the affective domain of learning disabled students
  • Select and implement best practices associated with the learning disabled


By the end of this course, participants will be able to:

  • Define specific learning disabilites in the content areas of reading, math, writing, and the processing disorders that affect them
  • Identify misconceptions among educators regarding LD students and their learning capabilities
  • Give examples of what the best practices are to improve the learning environment for learning disabled students
  • Utilize the strategies presented to decrease the frustration level of LD students


  • Individuals accessing and participating in this web based lesson on learning disabilities, will obtain a greater knowledge base of learning disabilities in the content areas of reading, writing, and mathematics, each affected by processing disorders, and gain strategies to improve their role as the teacher by demonstrating an increased level of awareness and sensitivity to learning disabled individuals, and applying this to their practices using the effective strategies presented.
  • Through this web based mini course, given study guides with in-depth text and audio visual references, the learners will adjust their perspective (and/or misconceptions they may have had or continue to have) about the learning disabled by utilizing strategies suggested in the course, by posting reflections in discussion areas, and answering questions posed using the best practices demonstrated within the context of the course.


Essential prerequisites:

  • Auditory and visual processing skills
  • Ability to read and respond to literature
  • Understanding of characteristics of learning disabilities
  • Experience in classroom scenarios as a student, teacher, or both.

Supporting prerequisites:

  • Self motivation and discipline to proceed through course
  • Computer proficiency
  • Positive attitude and moral based learning standards

As this course can be accessed by any individuals desiring more information and clarification on learning disabilities and the experiences of the learning disabled there are limited pre requisites. To reiterate, participants in the course are expected to have a basic understanding of navigating through websites as well as the ability to read and respond to literature and audio visual presented in the course.



You will need to hit the BACK button after viewing the ICM!


I plan on using a K-W-L chart as a place for participants to write down notes on what they are learning as well as an initial place for them to reflect on what they already know and want to know about LD.

UNIT 1: What are Specific Learning Disabilities?


  • Participants will be able to define vocabulary related to specific learning disabilities
  • Participants will be able to define and recognize characteristics of individuals with learning disabilities
  • Participants will be able to respond to questions on new terms and vocabulary


  • K-W-L based on learning disabilities
  • Reflection and Response

UNIT 2: What are the Misconceptions & Issues Surrounding Learning Disabilities?


  • Participants will be able to identify misconceptions and issues among educators and their common practices in learning environments relating to learning disabilities
  • Participants will identify instructional modifications appropriate to learning disabilities


  • Examine Case Studies
  • Response and Reflection

UNIT 3: What are Effective Instructional Strategies & How Best Do We Implement Them?


  • Participants will examine instructional media to recognize best practices relating to individuals with learning disabilities
  • Participants will be able to give examples of effective instructional strategies relating to individuals with disabilities


  • Processing Simulations
  • Review media clips and respond to processing activities
  • List inappropriate strategies and appropriate strategies to use with learning disabilities
  • K-W-L reflection area


A literature review was conducted for this topic. I was aware of texts available with current information and online resources. In addition, an online search was conducted. I currently use a specific assortment of valuable DVDs for the face to face course that I teach entitled "Children with Special Needs." I really wanted to share it with ETAP students and other wiki users. Needless to say, it was a great find when I was able to access clips of the DVD online. I am thinking about building some activities around the viewing of the clips --could be a good addition to the wiki course.

Currently just collecting links/ activities I may use within the course that I may want potential learners to view, read, and respond to... pending more info.... I currently use a specific assortment of DVDs for the face to face course that I teach that I find invaluable. I really wanted to share it with ETAP students and other wiki users. I found clips of the DVD online and am thinking about building some activities around a viewing of the clips --that could be a good addition to the wiki course.... still brainstorming... thanks for your patience.

Heward, William. (2006). Excetpional Children: An Introduction to Special Education. New Jersey: Pearson Education Inc.

Kirk, Samuel, A., Gallagher, James, J., Anastasiow, Nicholas, J., and Coleman, Mary Ruth(2006). Educating Exceptional Children. New York: Houghton Mifflin Company.

Lavoie, Frank (1990). How Difficult Can This Be? The F.A.T. City Learning Disability Workshop Guide. Washington D.C: Greater Washington Educational Telecommunications Association, Inc.

Turnbull, Ann, Turnbull, Rud, Wehmeyer, Michael, L. (2010). Exceptional Lives: Special Education in Today's Schools. New Jersey: Pearson Education, Inc.

How Hard Can This Be?

Motivation Breakthrough

Reading Comprehension

Reading Comprehension 2

Visual Perception

Processing Information

Risk Taking

Reading and Decoding

Fair but Not Equal

Books and DVDs

LD Online

See Course Main Page for an updated list.