Teaching Tips - Learning Disabilities

  • Present material in a variety of ways, not just through the lecture method. Consider visual aids, hands-on materials, lectures, videotapes, computer-enhanced instruction, etc. This will allow students to use whatever their strengths are in processing materials.
  • Allow students to reveal what they have retained in a variety of ways, not simply through paper-and-pencil tests.  Consider student presentations, long-term projects, small group presentations, term papers, individual oral testing, etc.
  • Consider posting class notes or an outline of key concepts on the Web before classes.
  • Post major due-dates for assignments and tests in the same spot in the classroom each week, even though they are indicated in the syllabus. Explain to students at the begin­ ning of the semester where they will be posted and that it is their responsibility to note these deadlines.

When lecturing

  1. Use advance organizers. That is, explain what you will be discussing, how it fits into the previous lesson and why it is relevant to students before proceeding with the lecture. This sets the stage for learning. 
  2. Provide an outline (e.g., in a handout, on an overhead projector, or on a Web site) so students will be able to clearly see the structure of the lesson and know what to expect. 
  3. Emphasize key concepts by slowing down and repeating them when they are introduced. 
  4. Use a variety of media in presenting lessons. Consider hands-on objects whenever possible, charts, videotapes, audio clips, hand-outs of key concepts, etc. 
  5. Pause and ask questions throughout, rather than just at the end. Call on students at random. Give students time to ask clarifying questions. 
  6. Give examples and non-examples of key concepts.

Work done outside the classroom

Leave time in class for students to begin their homework so that they can ask questions if they become confused. Only require students to practice work for homework that has been covered in class. Ensure that students do assigned readings by requiring them to do something active with the text. (Examples: answer questions to be turned in at the beginning of the next class period; write questions for each chapter to be given to fellow students at the beginning of the next class period; take a short quiz covering key concepts at the beginning of the next class, etc.) Suggest tutoring if needed and clearly explain how students can avail themselves of that service.

Small group work

Establish ground rules to ensure all students participate and are held accountable. Consider a group grade, so that students on each team work together. Interact with groups as they work to keep discussions focused and efficient. Have team members grade each other on participation and contributions to ensure even more accountability.


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