1. Children with special needs benefit from explicit instruction
To teach children with special needs to be successful readers, instruction needs to be tailored so that they can learn efficiently. Explicit instruction promotes efficient learning for children and includes:
- Thinking processes that are visible through modeling. For example, the teacher may demonstrate how to form and say different sounds as children watch the teacher’s mouth, or demonstrate how to find the main idea of a story by reading and modeling, or how to ask and answer questions like “who or what is this about?” and “what is happening?”
- Lessons that introduce a few ideas or skills and provide practice activities for each idea or skill. For example, the teacher introduces segmenting simple words by phonemes by saying and clapping each sound, by having the children count each sound using their fingers, and by having the children sort their names and other words on the word wall based on the number of sounds. The teacher introduces one short vowel sound and several consonant sounds that are not easily confused, and then has the children combine the letter sounds to read and spell words.
- Instruction that varies in pace. To vary pace, the teacher may repeat key ideas or directions, stop and check for understanding, or allow extra time for children to complete an activity.
- Pre-teaching key vocabulary and concepts using tools such as pictures or word maps that are created with the children.
- Visual and tactile supports for auditory information. For example, when children are blending and segmenting words, the teacher may have them write or trace each letter as they segment the sounds and then blend the sounds together to make the word. When teaching a reading selection, the teacher writes the key vocabulary for major points on a transparency or board.
- Immediate, corrective feedback and reteaching, if needed, so that children practice skills correctly.