Differentiation for Learners with Mild Learning Disabilities
Mild learning disabilities are the most common learning disabilities. Learners with mild learning disabilities have average to above average intelligence but have learning disabilities in maths, reading, and/or language arts. Learners at this level are expected to master all learning outcomes but should receive adaptations that can help them to learn the concepts.
Assessment is particularly important for learners at this level, because learners might be quite advanced in some areas and still struggle in others, especially in communication. They might be sophisticated thinkers but unable to communicate their thoughts effectively in writing. The following high school learner’s journal entry about the novel The Metamorphosis by Franz Kafka is an example of this:
I thoght this book is sposed to show us who living with hope or creativity can kill you. Gregor’s borring job and still lived at home with his parents. Everyone dipended him to ern money to support the family, but the didn’t realy care about him as a person he feelt obligated to take care of his family but his heart wasn’t in. When he truned into a bug and lost his abillity to give them what they wanted they just forget about him.
This learner did an excellent job of extracting personal meaning from the story, but the writing is confusing and difficult to understand, obstructing the meaning and the good thinking that the learner is doing. Learners with mild disabilities must be assessed through a variety of methods because many learners will show higher levels of thinking through speaking or creative interpretations of content than through conventional methods.
Most learners with mild learning disabilities struggle with writing, and many have reading problems. If they are given teaching consistently that addresses their weaknesses and does not recognize their strengths, they can easily become bored and disengaged. These learners need challenging material and teaching in areas that need improvement.
Other areas in which many learners with mild disabilities need help are self-direction and metacognition. Learners are often disorganized and overly dependent on teachers to tell them what to do. These learners can benefit from a range of self-assessment strategies, such as checklists like the following one for intermediate phase learners that helps learners self-assess their work habits and become more independent learners:
Metacognitive training is especially beneficial for learners with mild learning disabilities who often have difficulty choosing appropriate learning strategies. Checklists that prompt learners to stop and think about various ways to approach a task, and reflections that ask learners to look back and evaluate their thinking processes can help learners learn how to take control of their learning.
Reading comprehension is a problem for many learners with mild learning disabilities. They might be able to say the words, but they might have little understanding or memory of what they read. Learners can learn to monitor their own understanding using checklists and reflective writing. Teachers can use the information from these assessments to determine specific concepts that should be addressed in individual and small-group literacy activities.
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