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Improving Instruction for LD Math Students

Improving Instruction for Students with Learning Disabilities in the Middle School Math
Classroom
Briana Heard
Union University
November 27, 2015

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Middle School
Description.
History.
Learning Disabilities
Description. Students with Learning Disabilities (LD) typically have deficits in areas
such as attention, memory, background knowledge, vocabulary, language processes, strategy
knowledge and use, visual-spatial processing, and self regulation. It is important for any
intervention to be designed to address these deficits and help scaffold student learning. (Jitendra,
Star, 2011)
History. Educational equity is based on the notion that all students, regardless of personal
characteristics, backgrounds, or physical challenges should have access to a challenging
curriculum. Although achievement in mathematics has improved over the years, the achievement
rates of students with learning disabilities remain lower than other students. This suggests that
more needs to be done with instruction in the mathematics classrooms. (Jitendra, Star, 2011)
Instruction
Description.
History.
Traditional Instruction. In problem solving, many students lag behind their peers and
continue to experience difficulties, due to three concerns. The first concern is that most textbooks
do not provide opportunities to discriminate between problems that require different solutions.

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(e.g., all problems on a page can be solved using multiplication.) A second concern is the use of
cues such as key words that suggest an operation. They key word method does not focus on
meaning and structure of the problem. Reliance on key words can lead to systematic errors later
on. The third concern is a general heuristic approach based on George Polyas four step problem
solving strategy. This model is problematic for struggling students because it does not lead to
improvements. The model also can be too broad to support the learning of students who lag
behind. (Jitendra, Star, 2011)
Schema-based Instruction. (SBI) is an alternative to traditional instruction that draws
largely from schema theory of cognitive psychology. It integrates systematic, explicit instruction,
student think alouds, visual representations, peer assisted learning, and formative assessments to
improve mathematics instruction. Because multiple elements of information are chunked into
single schema, the features are held in long term memory and when one piece of information is
retrieved, the other connected pieces of information will be activated. (Jitendra, Star, 2011)
Summation
Students with disabilities can have success in learning problem solving skills
when instruction is designed to promote understanding. Developing a deeper understanding of
mathematical structure and fostering flexible solution strategies help students improve
performance. (Jitendra, Star, 2011)

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References
Asha K. Jitendra, Jon R. Star (2011). Meeting the needs of Students with Learning Disabilites in
Inclusive Mathematics Classrooms: The role of Schema-Based Instruction on Mathematical
Problem Solving. Theory Into Practice, 50:12-19, 2011