Due to poor reading and study skills, many students
who have learning disabilities (or who are otherwise low-achieving academically) are unable to read their assigned textbooks with the proficiency
required to abstract and assimilate new information. The problem
is exacerbated by a host of "inconsiderate" features of many textbooks,
Complex syntactical structures
Heavy information loads
Dense concentrations of novel concepts
Unlike facile readers, who may be able to comprehend a variety of
textual material through independent reading and study, less skilled
readers require adaptive techniques to manage the large number of
ideas and facts presented in many textbooks.
You can apply the diagnostic-prescriptive
approach to individualizing textbook instruction by doing the following:
Select various passages from the textbook, construct study guides
and tests for those passages, then have students read the selected
passages and complete the study guides independently prior to
formally beginning instruction.
Use the diagnostic information to place students into one of three
instructional groups: teacher-directed, dyadic (paired), or independent.
Implement subsequent textbook instruction differently for each
Follow these steps to diagnose students' highest level of independent activity with their assigned textbook:
Choose two passages from the textbook, approximately 1,200
words each, that contain information to be covered in class. These passages should contain the core of information you are teaching that is difficult for students.
Create study guide that draws information from the beginning, middle, and end of each passage. The study guide, or worksheet, will present questions that isolate important facts and concepts from the two critical passages in the text.
For each study guide, also create a 15-item multiple-choice test, each
question having four choices. The test should have 12 questions
written at the factual level and directly corresponding to 12 items
covered in the study guide, and 3 questions written at the interpretive level
(i.e. students must combine information from more than one part of
the passage or infer beyond the passage to determine the answer).
Before formally beginning instruction, in two separate class sessions, give students 12 minutes to read the passages, 20 minutes to
complete the study guide independently, and up to 20 minutes to
complete the multiple-choice test.
Placing Students in Three Instructional Groups
Once the diagnostic tests have been given, individualize your textbook
instruction by doing the following:
Calculate an average score for each student based on the scores the
student earned on the two diagnostic tests.
Assign students to one of three instructional groups, using the following criteria based on their scores:
0%-47%, teacher directed
53%-73%, paired (dyadic) group
80%-100%, independent study
The study guides you prepare for the teacher-directed group
should contain paragraph and page references after each question as
an aid to locating the answers in the passage. The guides for the dyadic
group should contain a page number reference only after each question. The guides for the independent students should contain no referential cues. Prepare 15-item multiple-choice tests as described earlier.
Implementing Three Instructional Groups Simultaneously
Three instructional groups can be implemented by means of the following procedure:
All students read a 1,200-word passage of text independently for
Students divide into three instructional groups and complete the
study guide for 20 minutes, using their textbooks.
The teacher-directed students are seated in a row on one side of the classroom.
The dyadic students are seated in two rows on the opposite side of
the classroom with their desks pulled together in pairs.
The independent students are seated in a row in the middle of the classroom.
Lead the teacher-directed students in completing and studying the guide questions as a group. Have the dyadic students work in pairs based on compatibility; these students should complete the study guide questions by cooperatively answering the questions on an item-by-item basis, followed by quizzing each other. The independent students should complete and study the guides independently.
Have the students take the 15-item, closed-book, multiple-choice test. Read aloud the test questions and the choices for the teacher-directed group, while the others work on their own.