takes time, patience and creativity. I was a Special Education teacher and helped students with learning disabilities like; dyslexia, ADHD, dyscalculia, dysgraphia and processing deficits, in the regular classroom and in the resource room. In the classroom, I would differentiate their class work to help students with LD still get the information taught, but in a way, that it would be retained. I would reduce the amount of problems they were to solve on a worksheet, help them understand the problem, make that problem concrete, and, in a lot of cases, made sure they wrote the answers out legibly. In the Resource Room, I would create games and activities that would reinforce the skills that applied to their IEP. In most cases this involved having students master their math facts.
Student who struggle with learning, like I did (read Dyslexia, Math & Me), make up 25% to 35% of student in our classrooms. That means 6 to 9 students in a class of 24 will have learning disabilities. Special education teachers and general education teachers need strategies to help students that struggle with mathematics, to gain access to general education curriculum and meet that curriculum with success.
In elementary school, students progress from counting numbers in kindergarten to multiplication and division of fractions in 5th and 6th grade. Many student’s difficulties start to show when they are in the third grade. A large part of this is due to the reliance on a very “handy” counting crutch, during the transition from addition and subtraction, to having to memorize math multiples and factors. It is at this age we need to emphasize strategies students can use to help them succeed. Students with learning disabilities must over learn a subject, to set it to memory, and repetition is key. So often, testing and curriculum scheduling set the agenda in a classroom and a fourth of the class can quickly fall behind at the current pace because there isn’t the time for repetition.
Here are some strategies to help our learning-disabled students so they don’t fall behind.
What does that mean, it means if a third-grade student is working with a problem that states, “There are 4 cats and 2 chickens, how many legs are there total?” A student will have 4 plastic cats and two plastic chickens in order to solve the problem.
Great tool to start with, in making math more concrete are MANGO Math kits. Take and Go activities that require no running around, finding supplies, or making copies, everything is done for you. Provides concrete lessons that can be used in the regular classroom, in small groups, or in a resource room.
allow the student to draw pictures that represents the math problem. Teach students strategies for solving math problems, drawing pictures is one method, guess and check is another which can be used. Check out MANGO Math K – 2 Problem Solving Kit. Starting early on strategies to problem solve is important for progression. MANGO Math Deluxe Math Kits provide the repetition students need at this level to master the key math concepts needed.
Games can be part of the abstract; having students work on the mastery of math facts, by playing a game is a great way to draw students into learning. Those students who may struggle to succeed at the game can always be placed in a “leadership” role by being the judge/dealer. This position allows for observation and accreditation. The judge can be given tools (calculator, numbers chart) to help them determine a winner. This leadership role builds confidence and takes off the pressure of quick response, as well as reinforcing the necessity of relying on tools when necessary.
Allow students to verbalize what they are doing at all levels. This verbalization helps the teacher to determine if student can transfer the concrete representations to an equation. Small group observation is a great means of determining student understanding. Collaboration and communication is necessary for students to retain information.
Use mnemonics - for students to memorize steps and processes. Like
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vocabulary book -
Calculators, number charts, counters, ten frames, etc.
Make repetition fun and meaningful
Repetition should expand learning
Resource rooms and classrooms should be filled with games that take students off worksheet and make math fun and engaging. In doing so students will be drawn to learn more. According to memory research, tying memory to joyous moments make the brain retain and recall it better. Judy Willis, a board-certified Neurologist and teacher, has found that fun experiences increase oxygen, dopamine, and endorphins, which help to create long term memory.