2001 Conference Proceedings

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OVERCOMING LITERACY BARRIERS

Roxanne Butterfield
Don Johnston Incorporated
E-mail: rbutterfield@donjohnston.com

Students become literate through engagement and participation in literacy activities. When a physical, cognitive or learning disability becomes a barrier to literacy, educators struggle to find appropriate interventions.

The starting intervention for students with physical disabilities is often cause-and-effect. But, what's next? Is it choice making? Is it something else? When do you introduce literacy experiences? When should you expect students to develop literacy skills?

Developing literacy skills is not a developmental process. One skill does not need to be mastered before the next skill is presented. Literacy skills are developed concurrently from the first days of life. All students should have literacy experiences every day. All students should have the opportunity to have literacy experiences and develop literacy skills.

Many classrooms around the world are adopting a balanced literacy approach to literacy development. A balanced literacy approach includes guided reading, self-selected reading, writing and word study. This model includes time spent in each area every day to provide students with daily practice, experience and repetition they need to develop fundamental literacy strategies as well as literacy skills. Recent research has shown that students with disabilities benefit from explicit, daily instruction in each of these areas.

Educators struggle with identifying appropriate intervention strategies and tools. Educators need interventions for each area of balanced literacy. Students with disabilities need interventions that support a variety of access needs and learning needs. Literacy intervention tools should provide teachers with strategies and models of best practice. Students should receive explicit instruction when they struggle so they can develop their own literacy learning strategies.

This presentation will demonstrate how to integrate computer access and emerging literacy skills in each area of the balanced literacy curriculum. Teaching strategies will be shared. Models of learning scaffolds will be presented.


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