Contemporary Issues Project- Speaking Notes

Ashley, Sarah-May, Emily

 Learning disabilities are becoming more and more prominent in the 21st century
 It is important, as new teachers, to understand the basics about what a learning
disability is, how it is dealt with in the classrooms, the resources used to support
learning disabled children, and what is used to encourage success in an
equitable classroom environment.
 Inclusion is basically described as a state of belonging or being ‘included’ in a
group. The action of inclusion can be different in certain settings.


To begin with, there are a couple of things that need to be understood about children
with learning disabilities or needing special education.

 Special education is defined as students with mild, moderate or severe
disabilities and those who are gifted and/or talented.
 Learning disabilities in general are defined as “specific neurological disorders
that affect the way a person stores, understands, retrieves and/or communicates
 There are a number of different kinds of disorders, and what they affect including:
o Language processing
o Phonological processing
o Visual spatial processing
 Some disorders, however are not necessarily visible such as:
o Processing speed
o Memory and attention and
o Executive functions (planning, decision making)
As mentioned before students with learning disabilities can range in severity and
students tend to have difficulty with one or two of the following:

 Oral language
 Reading
 Written language
 Mathematics.

What makes learning disabilities difficult is that no two students with learning disabilities
are alike and there tend to be other factors that can affect a student's ability to learn.
Those can include:
 Medical issues (such as a mental disability, whether serious or not)
 Behaviour issues (may not respond to traditional discipline, like children with
 Developmental issues (Autism, Down Syndrome are common examples)
 Learning issues just a general struggle with school work. Eg, Dyslexia
 Mental Health Issues (things like Anxiety and depression are examples)

Also, learning disabilities tend to be due to genetic and/or neurobiological factors or
injury. Learning disabilities are lifelong and can affect a person at different stages in life,
depending on what situation they are faced with.

For students with learning disabilities and special needs there are different programs
that are implemented for the needs of those students. Because not all students are the
same the ‘plans’ tend to be slightly different depending on the student.
These plans are called Individualized Program Plan (IPP)
 The IPP is described as a concise plan of action designed to address the
different needs of the student and provides the basis for intervention strategies.
o Intervention strategies can include specific skill instruction,
accommodations, compensatory strategies and self-advocacy skills.

Unlocking Potential: Key Components of Programming for students with Learning
 Requires a team effort
Guiding Principles
1. Collaboration
 Student involvement in all aspects of their programs enhances success
and self-advocacy skills
 Collaboration between school personnel, parents, and students is
important for any progress to be made

2. Meaningful Parent Involvement
 Enhances the child’s achievement and parent’s satisfaction with the
educational programming
 Important to facilitate a collaborative relationship between home and

3. Identification and Assessment
 Essential to ensure that appropriate educational supports are put in place
 Needs to be constant and consistent
 Team approach to the assessment process provides multiple sources of
information that contributes to diagnosis and development of
individualized program plans (IPP)

4. Ongoing Assessment
 Student involvement in the assessment process contributes to the
development of self-advocacy skills

5. Individualized Program Plans
 Provide the framework for developing programs to address the needs of
the individual students
 All components of programming come together in the development,
implementation and monitoring of students’ IPPs
 Planning for transitions across programs, grades, and schools
 Effectiveness of accommodations is tracked and instructional changes are
made as needed

6. Transition Planning
 Effective transitions are planned, collaborative and comprehensive

7. Self-advocacy
 Refers to taking action on one’s own behalf
 Programming for students with learning disabilities must support the
development of self-advocacy skills

8. Accommodations
 Can address many of the challenges that are faced by the student
 Is a change or alteration to the regular way a student is expected to learn,
complete assignments or participate in the classroom
 Need to be balanced with other instructional considerations and be
included in the IPP process
 Are based on an understanding of student strengths and needs
 Best determined through a collaborative process and need to be
monitored for effectiveness

9. Instruction
 Students will need explicit, intensive, and extensive instruction that will
vary with the severity and nature of the learning problems
 Combining direct instruction, strategy instruction and strategic teaching is
appropriate across all grade levels
 Guided by IPPs and builds on individual strengths and needs
 Planning, Implementing, and monitoring instruction are facilitated by


 A code is given to students if they are in need of specialized supports and
services in order to be successful. Gives students more of an equitable chance
for success.
 The need for coding can be required at any time in a student's educational career
from ECS to K-12. The only thing is that the schools need to be provided with
documentation of a disability or disorder in order to assign the special code.
 The codes need to be reported to the Alberta government and the education
sector to provide feedback for the demographics. This also allows for the
government to better the plan and make educational changes to better the

 18 different codes in the government's “Special Education Coding Criteria
o They are broken up into 2 parts: Mild/moderate including gifted and
talented for ECS and grades K-12, as well as severe for ECS and grades
K-12 (mention these in slides)
o The codes range from cognitive to physical disabilities. We are really
focusing on code 54, for grades 1-12.

o Children don’t generally show symptoms of a learning disability in ECS or
 The DSM-5 uses the term “Specific Learning Disorder” to
identify various types of learning disabilities- including things
such as the acquisition, organization, retention,
understanding or use of verbal or nonverbal information.
 Learning disabilities range in severity (mild, moderate, or
severe) and may result in difficulties in one or more of the
following areas:
 oral language (e.g., listening, speaking,
 reading (e.g., decoding, phonetic knowledge, word
recognition, comprehension);
 written language (e.g., spelling and written
 mathematics (e.g., computation, problem solving) .
 It is necessary to ensure early identification and provide
interventions, when needed, involving the home, school,
community and other settings.
 The interventions need to be appropriate for each
individual's type of learning disability and, at a minimum,
include the provision of:
 specific skill instruction;
 accommodations;
 compensatory strategies;
 and self-advocacy skills.

o When a child is given a “code,” it is then the job of parents, teachers, and
administrators to put an “individualized program plan” or “IPP” into place,
to promote the success of the student but providing certain
accommodations and understandings for the students.

 An IPP outlines many things including:
 The specific educational needs of individual learners
 The collaboration between students, parents, teachers and
other staff who work with the student
 The monitoring and evaluation of a student’s progress and
specialized programming
 The communication of students growth and progress with all
adults involved
 a summary of the individualized goals and objectives that a
student will work towards during a school year
 a summary of accommodations that will help the student
learn more effectively
 an ongoing record to ensure continuity of programming
 a guide for transition planning.
 Most of the time an IPP is established at the beginning of the
school year, but they are also developed throughout the year when
a child is identified as having special education needs.

 According to the “Individualized Program Planning Guide” from
Alberta Education, an IPP should include:
 assessment data (diagnostic assessment data used to
determine special education programming and services)
 current level of performance and achievement
 identification of strengths and areas of need
 measurable goals and objectives
 procedures for evaluating student progress
 identification of coordinated support services
 relevant medical information
 required classroom accommodations
 transition plans
 formal review of progress at regularly scheduled reporting
 year-end summary
 parent signature to indicate informed consent.

 As a teacher with students who have learning disabilities, you need to create a
non-threatening and inclusive classroom environment.
o It is important to create an inclusive and tolerant environment so that each
student can prosper. Regardless of abilities.
 Having an IPP allows every student to have equitable opportunities to
learn and succeed, however they need to.

 It is important that a child isn’t “labelled” as bad, or troubled because he/she has
a learning disability. It is important that as a teacher, you make sure that you
build a safe environment where your students are tolerant of diversities within the
classroom and differing learning styles.

 It is important for their to be a large support group for students with learning
disabilities consisting of: the teacher, support staff, administration, other
teachers, other students, the students family, etc. To promote good self-esteem
so the child is able to continuously strive to keep learning instead of shutting
down like so many students do.

 In the 21st century, learning disabilities are increasingly known and accepted in
o This has shaped the ways in which education and the curriculum is
approached, giving more freedom.
o The awareness of such needs has shaped the “Teaching Quality
Standard” for Alberta teachers, changing the ways in which we deal with
students and their needs.
 There are a wide range of needs associated with learning disabilities- this
contributes to the many variables and diversities that a teacher has to cope with.
o The context in which students live and learn affect what we teach and how
we teach it.
 It is important to have basic knowledge of this contemporary issue, that affects
over 20,000 students each year in Alberta.