Whether a student has been diagnosed with a learning disability or not, here at Stevenson, we believe that every student has a learning style that can be used by both student and teacher to achieve in any class. In the true spirit of inclusion, all students with diagnosed learning disabilities attend content-rich classes with their peers.
The Learning Specialist at Stevenson helps and trains teachers to recognize, understand, and address the various learning needs and deficits of our students. We work together to develop and implement specific approaches, strategies, modifications and accommodations for specific students. In this process, teachers expand their classroom teaching techniques to not only benefit students with special learning needs, but all students they teach.
The Learning Specialist also works directly with students and is available as a resource to any student who wants to better understand him or herself as a learner.
Understanding the learning needs of each of our students is an ongoing process that begins before students even begin their first day and it continues until the day our students leave us. We review our students’ prior educational history along with any evaluations in order to create a challenging program to meet the needs of each student. Occasionally when we program students, we don’t have prior transcripts or recent evaluations. In these cases, as information comes in and is reviewed, student programs are also reviewed. Teachers, staff, and most importantly, the student are all part of a dialogue regarding any changes that may need to be made to a student’s program.
Initial information is shared with staff early in the year so that teachers can meet the needs of the variety of learners in each class. As the year progresses, teachers begin to identify specific students that require additional attention and learning support. Teachers alert each other and the Learning Specialist to the needs of these students and also identify the classroom learning expectations that may present difficulty for the student.
We review and revisit the student’s prior records and evaluations. The Learning Specialist often conducts classroom observations of the student in order to help develop the most effective learning environment and teaching techniques. Findings from reports and observations are shared with the classroom teacher as part of the continuing process of implementing an appropriate educational plan for the student. The Learning Specialist also supports teachers in implementing methods and materials that are helpful to all students. This includes
Student skill development in:
• reading comprehension
• preparing for and taking tests in any content area
• organizing information in small, clear, sequential units
• using multi-sensory teaching methods
• integrating specific learning strategies and skills into on-going instruction
• implementing and modifying as needed a wide variety of assessment practices
The learning specialist also recommends and monitors assistive technology as a teaching tool. Available resources include audio books and assistive software. Software currently being used by Stevenson students includes Inspiration (a graphic organizer and outlining program), Dragon Naturally Speaking (a speech-to-text program) and Kurzweil 3000 (a text reading program). Teachers are also using other more commonly know software as well as content area software in ways that help us reach all types of learners.
Please feel free to call us with any information, concerns or questions you may have about your child’s learning needs.