UNIT 2: What are the Misconceptions & Issues Surrounding Learning Disabilities?
Return to Main Page of Course: Understanding Learning Disabilities and the Learning Disabled
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Target Objectives for this Unit:
- 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
REVIEW THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION:
One thing that is certain is that learning disabilities is viewed as a problem not only of the school years but of early childhood and adulthood. Also, that learning disabilities can occur with and without other disabilities. Finally, it is agreed that it exists within different cultural and linguistic groups. The failure to administer multidisciplinary evaluations does lead to an overrepresentation of individuals from different cultural linguistic groups. Furthermore, some schools have the tendency to label all students that are having academic challenges as having a learning disability. Thus, the logical conclusion is to be critical in the evaluation process, keeping in mind the individual, and of course, mulidisciplinary. Finally, you should also recognize that although someone is classified with a learning disability, they can be a more than fine reader, but poor speller. The challenge may be of a verbal OR non verbal issue. Therefore, it is fair to say that there are great differences in and among a group classified with learning disabilities. The main point then would be to remember that individuals with learning disabilities have been tested with normal intelligence levels. They simply have difficulty in one or more academic areas that is not associated with another known disability such as mental retardation. (Kirk, Gallagher, Anastasiow, and Coleman,2006)
Kirk, Gallagher, Anastasiow, and Coleman (2006) assert that there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that individuals with learning disabilities will absolutely have anisocial behaviors. It has long been assumed that individuals with learning disabilities have attention-deficit-hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Learning disabilities should be used to describe individuals who have brains that are interfering with learning, not persons 'unavailable for learning becuase of their inattention.'
In the classroom situation the strategies we use are often guided by our thoughts and perceptions of the individual, their capabilities, and philosophies. The strategies we choose to use or choose not to use with our students often directly impact their success or lack of. Most importantly one needs to accept that the educational process must be adapted to meet the growing needs of our learners (with learning disabilities). Patience. Perseverance, and Time. Those are the things you need when implementing strategies to work with individuals with disabilities.
In the following clip you see some of the common practices that highlight the misconceptions we have and the issues that surround LD students.
Think about the following questions BEFORE and AFTER viewing the video:
- How were the experiences described in the video segment similar to what you have expereienced in the past?
- How does a teacher instruct students with LD differently than those who do not have LD?
- Where should students with learning disabilities be taught?
- What are your thoughts on inclusion?
- Concerning modifications of curriculum, what are your thoughts about the extent of achievement based on modifications?
- What are your thoughts on collaboration in the classroom among a team of professionals?
NOW take a look at this video segment: Visual Perception
Please HIT THE BACK BROWSER BUTTON AFTER VIEWING THE SEGMENT TO RETURN TO THIS PAGE!!!
OPTIONAL EXTENDED READING The following link leads you to two case studies for your reveiw. They discuss educational strategies used with LD students and the effect it has on the classroom. After reading, please respond to the questions directly below to help you digest the issues, conflict, and ideas surrounding the case study.
Another Optional Video segment: Risk Taking
YOU WILL NEED TO HIT THE BACK BUTTON ON THE BROWSER AFTER REVIEWING EACH CASE STUDY!
FAIR BUT NOT EQUAL
A lot of what we've been discussing revolves around the philosophies one may have of academic responsibility. (Thinking back to the case study you may have just read entitled, "A Broken Arm." What did you think about giving less spelling words to one student? Was that NOT FAIR? Was that not "serving his spelling needs?" Or was the teacher simply giving the student the work that he NEEDED based on what he can do and appropriately learn from?
One of the most important lessons I've learned as a teacher (and parent) is that you do not have to be EQUAL in what you assign to a student or give to a child compared to what you assign or give the others. As long as you are FAIR and can justify what you are doing, it is an appropriate strategy. Just remember to be FAIR, even if NOT EQUAL.
Watch the following video taken from a workshop entitled, "F.A.T City: Frustration, Anxiety, and Tension" In this video and others you will be viewing you will participate in a simulation in which educators experienced what it is like to be learning disabled
In this segment, you hear from Rick Lavoie what "Fair, but not Equal" means:
CLICK HERE:Video Segment: Fair but Not Equal REMEMBER! HIT THE BACK BUTTON AFTER VIEWING!
Reading Comprehension and Decoding
As stated in the previous unit, learning to read is one of the greatest challenges faced by LD students. Unfortunately, there are a great number of misconceptions and issues surrounding how we instruct (or fail to instruct) students in this area.
Watch the following three segments from Rick Lavoie's F.A.T. City Workshop related to reading comprehension and decoding.
What is one of the greatest Misconceptions of individuals with learning disabilities?
It is more than likely you were thinking that they are 'not motivated' to learn.
In this NEXT video segment, you begin to grasp how much motivation actually drives individuals (with LD).
Click Here: Motivation Breakthrough REMEMBER!!! You will need to hit your BACK BROWSER after viewing to return to this page.
Questions for Reflection:
- What were you thinking as you watched the segments from the F.A.T.City Workshop?
- How did it affect your thinking?
- In terms of being fair, even if not equal, what are some modifications you see as appropriate for students with learning disabilities? In other words, what might you do differently now?
- What are the assumptions we make about learning to read? How have they been modified?
- How does Motivation (and your thoughts of) affect teaching and learning in your classroom?
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