Inspiration for Teachers and Parents

hello friend: Ennis William Cosby Foundation

Good Classroom Teaching for All Kinds of Learners
Here are ten things that teachers can do to help students with learning differences succeed in the regular classroom:

1. Establish a classroom that promotes learning with a framework of attitudes and values.

2. Send a clear message

3. Teach for understanding

4. Use multisensory teaching techniques and active learning strategies

5. Provide clear, explicit structure for the class time, space, materials, and course of study

6. Provide frequent assignments, and meaningful feedback and evaluation

7. Expose and teach the skills, information, and expectations hidden or embedded in the curriculum

8. Offer alternatives

9. Involve and respect students as central partners in learning

10. Intervene early and effectively with the individual student who is having difficulty learning.


Attitudes That Limit Learning For All Kinds of Learners
Attitudes That Promote Learning For All Kinds of Learners

Innate intelligence is probably the best predictor of student learning and achievement in schools.
Hard work and effective teaching are the primary predictors of student achievement.

Intelligence is unevenly distributed on a bell curve. A few can expect to achieve at a high level, most will be average, and some will fail.
All students can become capable, achieve at a high level, and improve in an area of weakness.

"Normal" means being able to learn the same things that other kids of the same age learn, in the same way, at the same time, at the same rate.
There are many different ways to learn. The world is a better place because we are not all the same. There are advantages to thinking in different ways.

There is usually one correct answer and one best way of finding it.
There are many ways to succeed. There can be successful elements in wrong answers and unsuccessful work.

Students will have an opportunity to show what they know on the test.
Students will have many opportunities and ways to show what they have learned.

Faster is better. Doing things faster means you are smarter.
It is not how quickly but how well you learn that counts. Speed can improve with practice.

Mistakes mean you haven't learned or studied carefully enough.
Mistakes are natural steps in learning and can point the way to success.

The best students are independent. They don't need or ask for assistance. Help makes you dependent.
Good students are interdependent. They ask for and give help. They look for detailed feedback on their work.

There are some things that individual students just can't learn. Some students just don't have what it takes.
Students can improve, even in their areas of weakness. Teachers don't give up on individual students.

Students who don't succeed in school need a dose of the hard reality that awaits them in the real world.
Sarcasm, shame, and humiliation are inappropriate ways of addressing the needs of unsuccessful or struggling learners.

Students who do poorly in school would be more successful if they were more motivated.
Students who do poorly in school would be more motivated if they had more successes in learning.

It's not fair to make accommodations just for some students.
The things that some students need in order to learn are usually helpful to all students.

Teachers teach information. Good students master the subject matter.
Teachers teach students. Good students learn the subject and learn how to learn.


  • Establish eye contact. Look at students so they can see your mouth, facial expressions, and gestures as you talk.
  • Pronounce words clearly and with sufficient volume. Speak at an unrushed pace, and use natural pauses to divide the material into phrases, sentences, and logical chunks.
  • Reduce background noises and eliminate distractions.
  • Avoid double negatives and unnecessarily complicated language. Be clear and direct, but not simplistic. Don't "talk down" or "water down."
  • Stop at checkpoints for questions. Be willing to repeat, summarize, or find another way of stating information.
  • Support what you are saying with a picture, diagram, demonstration, or other multisensory materials.
  • Make sure visuals and handouts are simple, clear, and uncluttered. Use simple, boldfaced type. Leave margins and space for making notes.
  • Allow sufficient time for students to copy from the blackboard or from overheads. Give copies of overheads to students.
  • Encourage particular students to sit in the front row, or away from the door to the noisy hallway.
  • Understand that 1.) remembering, following, and giving directions and assignments; and 2.) asking and answering questions precisely are particular problem areas for students with learning differences.
  • Assure that questions, assignments, and directions are as clear as possible. Avoid giving last minute assignments as students are leaving class.
  • Give sufficient time for students to process information, questions, and directions. Be willing to repeat, paraphrase, and explain in more detail and provide a written reference if it is helpful. Have students reverbalize what they understand.
  • Assure that all students can hear and understand each contributor to class discussions. Take time to repeat, summarize, or explain.


  • Teach information that has genuine importance, and let students know why. Make connections between life and school, and convey the importance and usefulness of what you're teaching.
  • Organize what you are saying. Teach in three steps: Start with an introduction that develops the purpose of the lesson. Then teach the lesson. Conclude with a summary of what was accomplished.
  • Help students see the rules, structure and patterns in the course material they are learning. Emphasize the "why" and the "how."
  • Avoid rote memorization of information. Embed facts and details in a web of understanding.
  • Say things simply first and then elaborate. Avoid tangents and insignificant details.
  • Use "linguistic markers" to highlight patterns and establish connections ("As a result·" "In conclusion·" "There are three main reasons·").
  • Introduce and explain new vocabulary before you use it. Emphasize definitions and key terms.
  • Use multisensory teaching and active learning techniques and materials to clarify and reinforce concepts.
  • Use analogies, real life examples, practical applications, and personal experiences to promote understanding. Make connections to student's strengths, areas of interest, and expertise.
  • Explain and practice difficult material in meaningful "chunks" or "micro-units."
  • Provide frequent opportunities to paraphrase, summarize, draw interconnections, and review.
  • Be willing to repeat, paraphrase, or summarize what you've said, especially information which must be understood precisely.
  • Check comprehension of information, directions, and assignments by asking students to repeat or summarize information.
  • Reinforce understanding by applying skills and knowledge to new and related contexts.


  • Present and practice information in ways that encourage active involvement, use more than one modality, and tap other kinds of intelligences.
  • Assure that presentations, discussions, handouts, activities, visuals, and multisensory methods and materials are clear, focused, and well organized, and that students clearly understand their purpose and goal. Otherwise, they distract and confuse.
  • Be aware of the power of visuals to clarify and organize information, promote comprehension, and tap the intelligence of students whose verbal skills may be weaker.
  • Recognize the extraordinary power of saying and doing to improve and deepen understanding and promote long term memory and retrieval.
  • Teach students to recognize and use multiple pathways for learning, and to discover which ones are most effective for themselves.
  • LEARNING BY SEEING - Use clear, simple, and well designed visual references and aids such as maps, charts, and diagrams. Make use of the blackboard, overheads, and computer generated imagery. Use graphic organizers and visual learning strategies. Highlight and organize information using color.
  • LEARNING BY SAYING ("verbalizing") - Encourage students to verbalize by explaining, summarizing, expressing personal reactions, asking and answering questions, and participating in discussions. Teach students how to set up and work in a study group, and to study out loud for tests. Have students teach or explain information to another student. Work in pairs and small groups.
  • LEARNING BY DOING - Provide opportunities to participate in labs, do projects and field studies, role-play, and perform demonstrations and simulations. Build physical models of concepts. Capitalize on students' interests and areas of expertise. Incorporate physical activity into classwork.
  • LEARNING BY LISTENING - This area, sometimes a weak channel for students with learning differences, can be enhanced by teaching active listening and notetaking skills.


  • Make organization of time, space, and materials as explicit as possible. Post weekly, monthly, and long term jobs and responsibilities; classroom calendars; homework assignments; and other important information in regular locations on bulletin boards, blackboards, or posters. Use visual organizers, references and reminders.
  • Regularly, post a daily agenda, or hand out a weekly schedule that provides concrete, consistent guidelines for course content and expectations.
  • Clarify the purpose of each lesson, and connect each daily class to the short and long term goals of the course.
  • Give directions and assignments both orally and in written form whenever possible.
  • Give older students a complete syllabus that includes: a detailed course outline; a calendar with due dates and guidelines for assignments, papers, and tests; a list of required course materials and texts; specific information, such as the professor's e-mail, office location and office hours.
  • Provide detailed guidelines for longer units, assignments and projects that include requirements, timetables, deadlines, and consequences.
  • Refer to agendas and organizational aids as guideposts. Amend them clearly as you work. Follow through. Be consistent.
  • Establish clear routines and habits which support regular activities and transitions between activities.


  • Give frequent, regular, explicit classroom and homework assignments which provide the opportunity to review and synthesize information and deepen understanding.
  • Understand the value of correct practice in the learning process. Anticipate and prevent incorrect practice of information which must be learned precisely, such as mathematical procedures.
  • Give special attention to identifying information and skills which must be practiced to the point of automaticity or fluency, and give frequent, regular assignments to practice these skills. Recognize individual differences in how much practice each student needs to develop automaticity.
  • Early in the semester, and in advance of assignments, teach students how you will evaluate their work and assess them for the semester.
  • Make the assessment for each assignment as explicit, fair, and meaningful as possible by:
  • providing clear criteria for assessing success when the assignment is first given returning assignments and tests promptly giving qualitative feedback giving evaluations and grades based on learning and mastery avoiding grading on a curve or on the performance of the rest of the class.
  • Assess students frequently; give weekly quizzes, assignments, reflection papers, and summaries.
  • Give timely, specific, qualitative feedback to students about the strengths and weaknesses of their work.
  • Whenever possible, use explicit, multiple means of assessment. For example, give separate grades for ideas, structure, and mechanics in a written assignment.
  • Create timelines for completion of longer-term assignments by micro-uniting tasks and establishing frequent checkpoints.
  • Give assignments that emphasize summary and review.
  • Teach students to evaluate their own work through assignments that explicitly teach reflection and self-evaluation.
  • Organize assignments and tests for the semester (or year) into a file or portfolio. Help students understand and assess their progress over time.


  • Don't make assumptions about what students know. Be explicit with students about any "hidden expectations" you may have for classroom behavior, attendance, or performance.
  • Teach study skills which support success, such as active listening and reading skills, asking questions, notetaking, summarizing, how to use the textbook, or time management.
  • Explain how and when to use specific memory strategies and study skills to master the course content.
  • Respect different ways of learning and different pathways to success. Point out alternatives that work. Help students identify learning channels and strategies that work well for them.
  • Present models for notebook organization and time management. Require that students maintain "Master Notebooks" and carry a dayminder with them.
  • Cue students to organize: put dates on handouts, record assignments and due dates.
  • Mod

copyright 2007 Rajapalayam Deivanaiammal Educational Institutions.