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Teaching Strategies

Just Effective Teaching

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Submitted by Bill Barrett

Although it is almost 16 years ago, I can still remember the feeling I had entering my first public school teaching job.  I was hired to teach four sections of 9th grade Civics classes and one section of an 11th grade honors US history class.  Mainstream regular ed and honors classes with a mix of students, some of which were on IEP’s.  This had been my goal at the time…to take my six years of Landmark experience and a graduate degree and attempt to effectively reach a wide audience of students while at the same time continue my work with students with language-based learning disabilities (LBLDs) in a mainstream public school setting. Approaching a class of 28 students, six of whom were on IEP’s (picture a Landmark class with an additional 22 students) made me immediately realize the importance of structuring my approach to make sure my students' skills and organization were up to par.  Content would absolutely have its place, but as a vehicle for critical thinking and most importantly, skill development.  Somewhat because of my inexperience in this setting, I began to fall back on some of the strategies I had learned in my six previous years at Landmark.  I will admit that I first used these strategies to buy myself some time as I began to get to know my students and gain a handle on the needs of my classes.  I had assumed during those first three weeks that I would move on from some of my tried and true Landmark strategies into a different realm of pedagogy more suited to a mainstream public school environment.

What I found out very quickly is that the strategies I had used during my time at Landmark were not just Landmark strategies…they were effective teaching and learning strategies for all student skill levels. As a teacher, the act of doing things such as putting an agenda on the board every day, using multi-modals as opposed to strict lecture, structuring writing through templates and outlines, giving credit for participation and organization, emphasizing test review as much as the test itself, teaching note taking as opposed to only dispensing “important” information, taking time to check on and reward notebook organization and break down specific tasks were strategies that benefited all of my students, not just the students with learning differences.

It remains my belief as an educator that when you assist in helping students acquire and learn the necessary skills with which they can access content knowledge on their own while also rewarding the attributes they bring such as cooperation and self-advocacy, you are providing them with a greater gift…the gift of control.  The ability to see themselves as a partner in the learning process engaged in the development of their own skills and not just an empty vessel waiting to be filled with knowledge.  In the end that doesn’t just represent Landmark teaching – it represents effective teaching, and worthwhile learning.

bill barrett headshot

Bill Barrett is the director of Faculty Recruiting and Teacher at Landmark School

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Tags:  effective teaching IEP language-based learning disabilities LBLD learning strategies self-advocacy Teaching Strategies

The Flipped Classroom for the LBLD Student

Blog Type:  Teaching Date Posted:  Friday, February 26, 2016

flipped classroom graphic

By Kimberly Hildebrandt

If you are an educator, you have probably heard of the Flipped Classroom. It is all the rage right now, and for good reason. The concept is simple, though the implementation can be quite varied. Here’s the big idea: Students learn content at home then come into class to practice, workshop, discuss, or work one-on-one with the teacher.

The flipped classroom isn’t really a new thing. Plenty of teachers have sent students home to learn new content from reading a text and then come to class to discuss. But, as people with language-based learning disabilities know, reading from a text is not accessible to all people and certainly does not always capture the essence of a lesson.

Technology has made the flipped classroom accessible to many more people. Today, “flipped classroom” has become synonymous with short video lectures or online manipulatives. Students then come to class to discuss the ideas they discovered in the lecture, practice new concepts with peer and teacher support, or further a project. The flipped classroom allows for more peer-to- peer and student-to-teacher interaction, something helpful to all students but particularly those who struggle in school. And making short videos lectures has never been easier. As long as you don’t mind the lectures being a little rough around the edges, a lecture takes hardly any more time to record than it does to actually give. Edutopia has a series of great videos (much more polished than my own) explaining the Flipped Classroom and the tech you need to do it. But remember, the flipped classroom is not the same as technology. As Edutopia would say, “We think the flipped classroom is a pedagogical solution with a technological component.”

While making your own videos ensures that students get consistent vocabulary and seamless instruction, you don’t have to make your own videos to start using the flipped classroom. Nor do you have to employ a flipped classroom ALL the time. START SMALL. Do a short unit using carefully curated videos or even just one lesson. And remember, if something goes wrong the first time around, give it a second chance.

So go ahead, give it a try! I think you’ll like it. Want to know more about the flipped classroom? Take a look at these resources:

(Note: ALWAYS preview a video before assigning it to students.)

  • Hardware and Software to make a video tutorial
    • I used an iPad and bContext app (though there are many interactive whiteboard apps available, I like bContext’s ability to upload documents from Google Drive and then upload videos directly to YouTube, which is where I shared videos with students)
    • My colleague used a document camera or an iPad as a document camera (with iPad stand like this one and iPevo app).
  • Always have students do something while watching a video:
    • Fill out a template
    • Answer questions
    • Take two-column notes
    • Play Posit - Online software which allows a teacher to upload a video and create pauses with a question for students to answer before moving on in the video. This is a super cool site!

What are your experiences with the flipped classroom? Have specific questions? Want to know more about how the flipped classroom plays out with students with language-based learning disabilities? Respond to this post and join the conversation!

Hildebrandt 800 wide

Kimberly Hildebrandt was a math teacher for 10 years at the Landmark School and is currently their social media coordinator.

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Tags:  edutopia flipped classroom Landmark School language-based learning disabilities LBLD learning differences learning disabilities Teaching Strategies two-column notes video lecture
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