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Special-Education Resources for Older Teens
Q: I teach high-school English to inner-city special-education students who usually have a reading level of about third grade or less. Classics bore them, yet we're required by the district to follow state guidelines and cover the same subjects that regular education classes do, in self-contained classes. Using "high-interest, low reading level" booklets doesn't really grab them, either. Most special-education resources are aimed at elementary school.
Do you know of any websites geared more for older students? Some of these "kids" are 21 years old! One boy said that these booklets and other thinly-disguised "remedial" series patronized him. I agree. We're constantly racking our brains to come up with interesting lesson plans and usually don't meet with much success. Their most common question after a presentation is "What time does this class end?"
A: You've certainly got your work cut out for you! An excellent resource for teachers of older students is the Learning Strategies Database at Muskingum College (www.muskingum.edu). The University of Kansas Center for Research on Learning (www.ku-crl.org) is also good. The website for CAST/Universal Design for Learning (www.cast.org) features "Teaching Strategies" and "Teaching Tools" as well as the National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum that might also be helpful to you. Use of organizers before reading as well as books on tape or other technology supports can make text more accessible to low-functioning readers, whatever their ages.
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For more than 20 years, Eileen Marzola has worked with children and adults with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders, and with their parents and teachers. She has been a regular education classroom teacher, a consultant teacher/resource teacher, an educational evaluator/diagnostician, and has also taught graduate students at the university level. Marzola is an adjunct assistant professor of education at Teachers College, Columbia University, and Hunter College of the City University of New York. She also maintains a private practice in the evaluation and teaching of children with learning disabilities and attention deficit disorders.