Reading is considered one of the most fundamental skills a child can learn. It is essential in many aspects of daily life. That means that when students in special needs classes face difficulty with reading, it is important to do as much as possible to help them improve. This will also benefit other areas of learning.
Teaching in special needs classes
There are some principles that govern any teaching in special needs classes. Your methods need to be flexible enough to adapt to the specific needs of each individual student. You also need to ensure you offer plenty of rewards and encouragement, and you need some way to keep track of every student’s progress so far. All methods and materials should be best practice, supported by evidence.
At Brighton School, Reading Mastery is the main program used to help elementary school students improve their reading. It uses the Direct Instruction method, which means the teacher delivers information and instructions directly to the student, who will have opportunities to interact with the lesson. There are two basic principles behind Direct Instruction: that all students can learn, regardless of background, and that all teachers can be successful if they use the correct techniques and materials.
Not all students and subjects will always benefit from Direct Instruction, but scientific research has produced extensive evidence that it can help improve reading. Reading Mastery offers a carefully structured program with a clear sequence of lessons, each of which builds on the skills and concepts established previously. This means the student can work through phonemic awareness, letter-sound correspondence, word recognition, vocabulary, oral reading fluency and comprehension until they attain mastery.
Corrective reading decoding is a form of Direct Instruction that focuses on decoding and/or comprehension skills for students who have struggled with other methods of teaching. This may be because of problems with attention, recall and other learning difficulties.
Language for Learning
Language for learning is an oral language program. It covers the basic vocabulary, sentence structures and concepts that you are likely to encounter in the classroom and that are regularly used for teaching.
Language for Thinking
Language for thinking helps students who struggle with both spoken and written language as well as verbal reasoning. If language skills are delayed or impaired, it provides a practical way to develop them so the child can better understand abstract concepts.
Reasoning & Writing
This is another way to develop language skills through Direct Instruction. Children will be better able to express themselves in both words and writing as well as improving their critical thinking skills.
Lindamood-Bell Visualizing & Verbalizing comprehension
Being able to read the literal words on the page is only part of the journey to becoming literate. Students also need to understand what they read. The Lindamood-Bell Visualizing & Verbalizing comprehension program works to improve concept imagery, which in turn should enhance overall comprehension.
These are just some methods that can be used to help students with special needs master reading, including by improving their comprehension and verbal reasoning as well as their language skills. This should allow them the best opportunity to achieve their goals and live a fulfilling life as they grow older.