Magazine article Momentum

Self-Regulation Skills Development Promotes Academic Rigor for Students with IEPs

Magazine article Momentum

Self-Regulation Skills Development Promotes Academic Rigor for Students with IEPs

Article excerpt

Strong teacher partnering For planning and instruction benefited all students while delivering targeted special education instruction to students a» i t h disabilities

Creating self-regulating learners became the focus of a series of lessons partnering special education support services with the general education classroom at Our Lady Queen of Angels School in New York City. While teaching at the school, we found that some students, especially those with learning disabilities, do not possess the internalized learning strategies needed to learn and perform successfully in the classroom. Consequently, these students need to be taught explicit strategies that are reinforced consistently while allowing enough time for such strategies to be internalized by students (Schrunk and Zimmerman, 1998). Self-Regulation Skills Development (SRSD) is a method we found to be effective in reaching the goal of creating self-regulating learners.

We were determined to re-think our approach to delivering the mandated special education services to the students with learning disabilities, and to minimize the amount of time the students would spend pulled out of the general education classroom. The goal we set for ourselves was to design a continuing set of lessons that would enrich all students while providing mandated instruction to the eight students receiving Special Education Teacher Support Services (SETSS). Each one of these students has IEP goals for reading and writing.

In the previous school year, the group of students with disabilities had increased their reading scores and now needed to strengthen their written expression to better match their increased reading comprehension. Our decision, to focus on writing skills development for all the students, was an easy one because this is an area where all students in the classroom would benefit. The ability to organize and express thoughts efficiently and clearly in writing is critical for all students.

New York State Requires Writing Skills

In urban education, and in this class specifically, many students struggled to organize their ideas and opinions into written expression although written expression is often how academic skills are measured (Mason, Benedek-Wood, and Valasa, 2010}. New York State tests given in the eighth grade require that these writing skills be used by students across the core subject exams (English language arts, science, math and social studies). Even the strongest writers would benefit from targeted instruction in content area responses preparing them for the Eighth Grade Social Studies Exam given in June.

A limited quantity of designated time for collaborative instruction in the content area, set by the school schedule, mandated the need for an intensive, efficient method. Using the SRSD model, we planned writing lessons in the content areas for all the students. Lessons were scheduled once a week for 50 minutes.

We chose a series of quick writes as the basis for teaching Self-Regulation Skills Development. These quick writes responded to evaluative questions in the content area of social studies. Scaffolding and support for the struggling students would come from the planned student partnering in the initial lessons, and also from using a web-based Moodle format for written responses. Moodle (Modular Object-Oriented Dynamic Learning Environment) is an online discussion thread in real time.

In this eighth-grade class, a core group of students expressed strong verbal opinions during class discussions. With teacher guidance, this accountable talk provided a model of the thinking processes of writing for our students with weaker critical thinking skills.

We uncovered a surprising student attitude during the first lesson. Our class believed that it was the job of the reader to do the cognitive work involved in understanding what the students "really meant" in their written responses. Before the second lesson, we invested time in discussing how state tests are graded. …

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