Professional Development

Featured FAQs

Question 1: How should I teach beginning reading to primary students with special needs?
Question 2: Do you have suggestions for lesson plans to teach remedial reading?
Question 3: What remedial reading methods work best for students with learning disabilities?
Question 4: I want to become a teacher. Are there any graduate schools offering programs in learning disabilities?
Question 5: What is RTI and what are the essential components that must be present for it to be implemented with fidelity?
Question 6: How can I get teachers and staff to buy in to the RTI process?

Question:

How should I teach beginning reading to primary students with special needs?

Answer:

Reading Rockets has a wealth of information about teaching children to read. Here are some articles that provide basic knowledge on this topic:

Reading Rockets offers strategies, lessons, and activities designed to help young children learn to read. Its resources assist parents, teachers, and other educators in working with struggling readers who need some additional help developing these reading and comprehension skills. Our sister site, Colorín Colorado, which is designed for Spanish-speaking parents and educators of English language learners, also has excellent information for anyone interested in early reading instruction. You can also try TeachingLD, a site for Special Education teachers.


Question:

Do you have suggestions for lesson plans to teach remedial reading?

Answer:

The following article describes the nine elements of effective reading instruction. You may find it useful to develop your lesson plans from these elements:

The majority of students who struggle with reading have difficulty with phonics and decoding, so you will want to be particularly mindful that your students are getting direct, explicit, and consistent instruction in this area. These articles provide suggestions for differentiating instruction to accommodate students who are struggling with reading:

The following articles suggest activities and teaching strategies:

You may also find it helpful to post your question to other teachers as well as reading specialists on the LD OnLine online forums.


Question:

What remedial reading methods work best for students with learning disabilities?

Answer:

There are many reading programs available to help struggling readers. Reading programs should address the individual needs of each child. Effective programs target the learning areas needing attention, and also present information in a way that is the most beneficial to the child’s learning preference.

There is no perfect method for teaching reading, and no one method works for everyone. However, there are several research-based programs that can help struggling readers. The following articles highlight some of these programs:

On Reading Rockets, there are several articles that address reading programs and their benefits for young children:


Question:

I want to become a teacher. Are there any graduate schools offering programs in learning disabilities?

Answer:

There are a few universities around the United States which offer graduate specializations in learning disabilities. Although there are not many which offer this as an option now, there likely will be in the future.

Each state has its own criteria for granting teaching credentials to those who wish to work with learning disabled students. The recent passage of the federal law known as "No Child Left Behind" has raised standards for teachers in all fields. Because of this, you should contact your state Department of Education and get a list of their requirements before you begin looking for an appropriate program.

Once you know what courses you must take in order to get the teaching license and endorsement you want, you can start looking for a college that meets your requirements.

The following sites may help you find the right school for your professional needs.


Question:

What is RTI and what are the essential components that must be present for it to be implemented with fidelity?

Answer:

A multi-tiered system of supports (MTSS) is a proactive and preventative framework that integrates data and instruction to maximize student achievement and support students social, emotional, and behavior needs from a strengths-based perspective.

MTSS offers a framework for educators to engage in data-based decision making related to program improvement, high-quality instruction and intervention, social and emotional learning, and positive behavioral supports necessary to ensure positive outcomes for districts, schools, teachers, and students. Depending on state law, MTSS data may also support identification of students with learning or other disabilities. 

The MTSS framework is comprised of four essential components: screening, progress monitoring, multi-level prevention system, and data-based decision. Learn more about each of the essential components of MTSS at the Center on Multi-Tiered System of Support.


Question:

How can I get teachers and staff to buy in to the RTI process?

Answer:

Larry Summers is quoted as saying “in the history of man, nobody has ever washed a rental car.” The point of that quote is that without ownership school staff probably isn't going to buy in, 100%, to the RTI process. And without that ownership of the process they are much less likely to implement it well, and its much less likely therefore to be successful. And one way that we found to get teacher buy-in is to really ensure that all staff have an opportunity to voice their concerns about the process, and to express their concerns about the changes in their roles that they make counter as a result of implementing the RTI process.

We need to ensure that as schools shift from using data to make decisions about students, that the one component that is not lost is also getting the teacher's experience and knowledge base in their personal relationship with their student — not taking that part out of the equation. In other words, we want to respect what teachers bring to this process, and if we don't do that then you are not likely to get the level of buy-in and ownership of RTI that you probably need in order for it to work well.

— Dr. Evelyn Johnson, Boise State University

"A book is like a garden, carried in the pocket." — Chinese Proverb