Friday, February 17, 2012

Education Friday - The Literacy Web Part Two

   Reading comprehension is amazingly difficult to assess in children with autism because there are too many variables. Is the child able to understand but not express their understanding? Is the type of test appropriate? Is it the vocabulary? My son often seems to understand words in isolation but be confused by the same words in a sentence-
the opposite of what most children experience, and a problem as
his class focuses on "context clues." 
  Again, think of a web rather than a ladder. Give the student
many ways to demonstrate knowledge: ask questions in song, accents, or by writing, give extra time, and the option to circle answers.*
Some students may respond in more depth by drawing, acting, pantomiming, or creating collages and dioramas based on the
But even if the child still struggles to show mastery,
opportunities for reading and literacy activities should continue
while the teacher continues to look for better ways to test and
support comprehension.
In a think-aloud** strategy the teacher explains what she predicts
will happen in the text. Students may enact a story, process, or
historical event. Students may also take turns teaching in 
summarizing, questioning, explaining, and predicting.***
If you're interested in finding out more, see the bibliographic 
notes below. Paula Kluth's research summaries are invaluable 
because until very recently, literacy studies and strategies specifically for children with autism were few and far between. And there continues to be a need to draw from all literacy sources because our kids learn in individual ways.
Kluth's most important message here is every kid with autism
can be literate. Always assume that, never the reverse,
and give every child as many opportunities as possible
to prove you right.

*Chapter 8 "Seeing Students with Autism as Literate" in You're Going to Love This Kid.
Ideas suggested by *D. Williams in Autism: An Inside-Out Approach (1996), **Harvey &
Goudvis Strategies That Work (2000) and Wilhelm Improving Comprehension with
Think-Aloud Strategies (2001) and ***Palinscar & Brown Cognition and Instruction (1984).
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