by Susan Jones, M.Ed.
- Use fonts and print size that are easy to read. 15 point
type is not insulting but makes a difference.
- Format tests to reduce reading, especially multiple
choice and matching.
Make the answers in multiple choice questions short; put
the shorter parts of matching questions on the right hand
side. This way when the student has to read the various
choices, s/he does not have to read long definitions or
answers again and again. Click here
for an example of a matching question so formatted.
- Use visual and concrete information and link it often
to the langauge used to express those ideas.
- Use the same format/directions for similar kinds of
assignments so the student can focus on content rather
than figuring out how to do the assignment
- Use "student dictionary" kinds of definitions
with concrete examples and analogies whenever possible,
- Teach and monitor use of strategies for following directions
(such as highlighting steps and checking them off).
Use multisensory learning.
Anchor concepts and terms with visual/concrete presentations
that connect the abstract language to the visual and concrete
KEEP ANCHORING THEM with assignments that have the student
process the information with the visual/concrete and the
words to express the content. Don't isolate the visual from
the verbal; keep the flow between the two worlds.
Especially for CAPD: Provide a written version of what
you say whenever possible, especially when several steps
Use word banks when appropriate.
Include pictures and graphics on tests and assignments.
Use and teach the use of graphic organizers. Pick a favorite
or two and use them often and well -- this way the student
doesn't have to keep learning the organizer, but benefits
from the more visual display. Keep in mind that simply arranging
a bunch of words in a more visually memorable fashion will
help some students immensely -- but for other students,
there will still be a lot of language with no concrete connection.
Words are a "second language" to many of these
3. Metacognitive strategies:
Graphic Organizers (though, again, these are just words
presented more visually and don't necessarily connect with
the visual and/or concrete concepts in the student's mind)
Break down essays and other complex language tasks into
steps. Structure questions (specify "what are three
good things and three bad things about...") and gradually
increase the amount the student has to structure written
When teaching study and learning strategies (calling them
"learning strategies" may be helpful), include
"why." Before a student and/or teacher decide
that a strategy "just doesn't work for me," keep
in mind that the reason the stratey doesn't work may be
that a) the student is still figuring out the strategy,
so the mind is more engaged in that than in the content
being learned with the strategy or b) the student still
focuses on appearing to complete the assignment rather than
learning the material, and may not even really know what
it is to "know" the material. Try applying the
strategy to something the student already knows well first,
especially if the strategy involves manipulating information
(such as drawing examples of something with labels, or making
up examples of something).
Use study strategies that incorporate concrete and/or visual
information that go along with terms and labels; avoid work
that is simply repeating (or even paraphrasing) a definition,
even/especially if the student is able to do this. Using
drawings and concrete examples and using the verbal information
to describe them involves more thought than just moving
Provide many examples and have students do the same.
-- reduce the amount of copying when possible, especially
for the students who copy information without thinking about
what it says. Some people remember what they have written
down -- but others write without even reading what they're
about to write.
-- reduce the amount of writing when possible. For example,
instead of answering every question in complete sentences
that reflect the question, have the student do this for
some questions but answer the rest in phrases.