Slow the pace of instruction to accommodate low achievers Make the children

Slow the pace of instruction to accommodate low

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Slow the pace of instruction to accommodatelow achievers.Make the children feel good about themselves,even if that means letting them repeat errors,because correcting their mistakes may commu-nicate to the children that their efforts are notvalued.Because every child learns differently, be sure toinclude instructional methods and materialsfrom many different learning theories, models,and approaches.Be creative.Although some of these practices (e.g., supporting stu-dents’exploration of their environment, helping children learnto feel good about themselves) are not problematic in theproper context, others (e.g., do not target instruction towardspecific learning outcomes, measurement is unnecessary) areso dubious that they are, in the words of Wolfgang Pauli, “noteven wrong” (Kame’enui, 1994). None of these practices wouldcontribute to special education that is focused, intense, urgent,precise, structured, and continually monitored for proceduralfidelity and effects.Compare the previous bulleted list with descriptions ofinstructional methods derived from empirical research withstudents with disabilities (e.g.,Anderson & Romanczyk, 1999;Christensen, Ysseldyke, & Thurlow, 1989; Gersten, 1998;Heward, 1994; Kame’enui et al., 2002; Rosales & Baer, 1998;Swanson & Hoskyn, 2001; Vaughn et al., 2000; Wolery &Schuster, 1997), all of which have recommended practicessuch as the following:Assess each student’s present levels of perfor-mance to help identify and prioritize the mostimportant instructional targets.Define and task-analyze the new knowledge orskills to be learned.Design instructional materials and activities sothe student has frequent opportunities for activeresponse in the form of guided and independentpractice.Use mediated scaffolding (i.e., provide and thenfade prompts and cues so the student can re-spond to naturally occurring stimuli).Provide systematic consequences for studentperformance in the form of contingent rein-forcement, instructional feedback, and error correction.Incorporate fluency-building activities intolessons.Incorporate strategies for promoting the general-ization and maintenance of newly learned skills(e.g., program common stimuli, general casestrategy, indiscriminable contingencies,self-management).Conduct direct and frequent measurements ofstudent performance and use those data to inform instructional decisions.A large and worrisome disparity exists between the teach-ing practices endorsed by the widely held notions discussedin this article and what research has told us about effective in-struction. Indeed, studies of the education experienced bymany students with disabilities have found that other thanlimiting class size, there is often little that goes on in manyspecial education classrooms that can rightfully be called“special” (Moody et al., 2000; Vaughn, Moody, & Schumm,THE JOURNAL OF SPECIAL EDUCATION VOL. 36/NO. 4/2003197
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198THE JOURNAL OF SPECIAL EDUCATION VOL. 36/NO. 4/20031998; Ysseldyke et al., 1984). We should not be surprised that
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