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Minnesota Adult Basic Education Disability Specialists

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STEP 2

Look through the seven scenarios listed below (in red).  Select the scenario that best describes your student's classroom challenges and follow the recommended strategies associated with the scenario.

1. Student tends to be:

  • Easily distracted
  • Starts and stops classwork
  • Misses details on worksheets
  • Often loses homework
  • Has trouble sitting for long periods of time

If the majority of the above characteristics describes your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #2 below.

    1. Have student sit at the front of the class.
    2. Allow scheduled routine breaks throughout class in order to refocus. 
      (Example 5-10 minute break every hour.)
    3. Only give two instructional steps at a time, breaking information down.
    4. Give both visual and oral instructions.
    5. Allow extra time on tests and testing in a private room.

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.


2. Student:

  • Was born in the United States and attended American schools
  • Has strong communication skills
  • Demonstrates at least average intelligence
  • May have a history of special education services (if born in 1975 or later)
  • Demonstrates academic strengths along with significant weaknesses
    (rather than challenges in all subjects)


    If reading is the weakness, the student:
    • Struggles with comprehension of text
    • Often needs to re-read information/reads slowly
    • Has difficulty sounding out words/blending sounds and spelling words
    • Has trouble distinguishing between words that look or sound alike

    If math is the weakness, the student:
    • Has trouble memorizing math facts
    • Cannot recall order of operations in solving math problems
    • Misreads signs or carries numbers incorrectly
    • May have visual-spatial difficulties
    • May struggle with math word problems

If the majority of the above characteristics describe your student, choose at least three of the five following reading or math strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #3 below.

Reading Strategies:

    1. Use multi-sensory instruction. For example, kinesthetic, interactive, hands-on materials, and visual aids, such as using a sandbox to write letters and/or words, dry erase boards and textured letters.  Click on #2 to learn more.
    2. What is Multi-Sensory Instruction? What is Multi-Sensory Instruction?

    3. Ask the student to try using a line reader in order to read line by line and ease tracking while reading (line readers can be made by making a strip using cardboard or heavy stock paper).
    4. Before reading, ask students: “What do you already know about this topic?” and/or “What do you want or need to learn about this topic?” This establishes a connection between known and unknown. Tell students to jot down questions during reading. Check in to make sure they understand what they are reading.
    5. Make flashcards or have students keep a notebook of new or unknown words encountered while reading. Write the word, a simple meaning, a phrase or sentence using the word, antonyms, synonyms, pictures, or associations. A personal connection or a personal example of a new word will help students remember.
    6. Allow extended time on tests and assignments and testing in a private room. 

Math Strategies:

    1. Use multi-sensory instruction. For example, kinesthetic, interactive, hands-on materials, and visual aids.  Click on #2 to learn more.
    2. What is Multi-Sensory Instruction? What is Multi-Sensory Instruction?
    3. Use math manipulatives to demonstrate concepts, such as using blocks, popsicle sticks, coins, stacking cubes etc.
    4. Ask students to rephrase what they learned to make sure they understand the concept and connect what they are learning to their life.
    5. Use flash cards to help students memorize math facts.
    6. Allow extended time on tests and assignments and testing in a private room.

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.


3. Student has difficulty:

  • Remembering rules, instructions or events
  • Following through, which prevents completion of assignments and staying on task
  • Being socially inappropriate, such as blurting out answers or interrupting others
  • Respecting other people's boundaries
  • Understanding what people say and/or expressing themselves

If the majority of the above characteristics describe your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #4 below.

    1. Keep a consistent routine during class.  For example, put the daily schedule on the board.  Give advance notice when there are changes in the routine.
    2. Allow scheduled breaks throughout class in order to help student refocus, such as a 5-10 minute break every hour.
    3. Ask students to rephrase what they learned to make sure they understand.
    4. Make sure you have your student’s attention, before starting each lesson.  They need to attend in order to recall and learn new information.
    5. Use multi-sensory instruction.  For example, kinesthetic, interactive, hands-on materials, and visual aids.  Click on #6 to learn more.
    6. What is Multi-Sensory Instruction? What is Multi-Sensory Instruction?

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.



4. Student:

  • Becomes extremely anxious prior to or during testing
  • Startles easily to loud noises
  • Sits where they can see the door
  • Has frequent headaches or stomachaches
  • Shows difficulty concentrating for long periods of time
  • Appears nervous or jittery

If the majority of the above characteristics describe your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #5 below.

    1.  Ask student to write down their fears for 10 minutes prior to testing.
    2. Allow testing in a private room.
    3. Allow scheduled breaks throughout class in order to help student refocus, such as 5-10 minute break every hour or so.
    4. Encourage deep breathing when student appears anxious.  Breathe in for count of 4, hold for count of 4, and breathe out for count of 4.  Do this 5 times.
    5. Ask student to write down what they can and cannot control.  Anxiety is often fueled by things that are out of someone’s control.  Tell them to put their energy into those things they can control.

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.


5. Student has shown significant changes in behavior in the following ways:

  • Isolating from others
  • Appears sad/depressed
  • Lacks motivation
  • Shows less focus than usual
  • Attendance is sporadic

If the majority of the above characteristics describes your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #6 below.

    1. Check in with your student to ask how they are doing.  Let them know you care.
    2. Encourage them to journal their thoughts and feelings.
    3. Point out their strengths and what they are doing well.
    4. Set small attainable goals, break information down.
    5. Pair them with another student to complete assignments, in order to encourage friendships.

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.


6. Student:

  • Squints at board or when reading
  • Moves text closer to their eyes
  • Rubs their eyes and complains of eyestrain during longer periods of reading
  • Shows difficulty copying accurately from the board

If the majority of the above characteristics describe your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods.  If not, go to #7 below.

    1. Suggest your student gets their eyes examined.  Click here for low cost resources: http://mn.abedisabilities.org/abe-disability-manual/vision-loss-and-blindness/resources-and-website-links

    2. Experiment with various magnifiers and reading glasses (contact PANDA if you need some of these).

    3. Enlarge the print and/or increase the font on all handouts/materials.

    4. Ask the student to try using a line reader in order to read line by line and ease tracking while reading (line readers can be made by making a strip using cardboard or heavy stock paper).

    5. Try at least one strategy from the videos titled: “Teaching ABE Students with Vision Loss and Blindness” and “Tips for Teaching ABE Students with Vision Loss and Blindness”.  Click here to view the videos:  http://mn.abedisabilities.org/abe-disability-manual/vision-loss-and-blindness/instructional-strategies

For more strategies, click here. If your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies, continue to STEP 3.


7. Student:

  • Frequently asks people to repeat what is said
  • Sometimes has inappropriate responses to what is said
  • May cup their hand around their ear to hear conversations
  • Withdraws and avoids interaction
  • Peeks over to other students' papers or books to see where they should be

If the majority of the above characteristics describe your student, choose at least three of the five following strategies to use with your student for the next six class periods:

    1. Suggest your student gets their hearing examined.  Click here for low cost resources: http://mn.abedisabilities.org/abe-disability-manual/hearing-loss-and-deafness/resources-and-website-links
    2. Ask student to sit at the front of the classroom. 
    3. Reduce external noises as much as possible, such as shutting the door during class, no back ground music etc.
    4. Give student visual aids as much as possible and instructions in writing.
    5. Ask student to rephrase what was heard to make sure they understand.

For more strategies, click hereIf your student continues to exhibit learning challenges after implementing the above strategies or if none of the above characteristics describes your student, continue to STEP 3.

Go back to STEP 1.  

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