Remedial Reading Instruction
Students requiring intensive reading assistance (roughly 25% of the students) are seen four times per week for one-on-one or, occasionally, two-on-one instruction in critical language arts skills. Decoding, comprehension and spelling skills are addressed using a special adaptation of the Orton Gillingham program. Dearborn's teachers utilize a multisensory, structured language approach to teaching phonics that has been used successfully with learners in Kindergarten through adulthood. The specific program we use was developed by Sharon Weiss-Kapp at Massachusetts General Hospital and is trademarked as the "Wisnia-Kapp" reading program. The program uses images imbedded in the letters and storytelling as interesting and entertaining support for recall. It uses direct, explicit instruction in phonological awareness, sound and symbol retrieval, segmentation skills and syllable pattern types.
The methods used in the intensive sessions are then carried forward within the classroom, reinforcing lessons learned and allowing students to become active participants in their primary classrooms. Reading teachers are actively involved supporting the classroom teacher during their writing classes, providing another bridge for those students who struggle the most.
Systematic pre- and post-testing among Dearborn Academy students having severe language-based and non-verbal reading difficulties have shown impressive gains in student sound recognition and ability to decode and comprehend reading material.
Learning Center teachers encourage the use of templates to help sequence and organize students’ writing. The use of the Collins Writing Program builds students’ confidence by systematically breaking down the writing process into small, manageable steps. We use images and graphic organizers to increase recall and retention in all academic areas and use emPOWER, a powerful instructional method for teaching expository writing. By applying consistent teaching strategies in the Learning Center and across the curriculum, we make it easier for students to know what they have to do to be successful.
A certified Occupational Therapist is on staff and participates in assessing student needs and planning interventions supportive of student learning. For those students requiring this sort of intervention (about 25% of the students), the OT creates one-on-one sessions, to strengthen such areas as postural stability, fine motor control and dexterity, visual perceptual skills, sensory processing skills and executive functioning. The use of adaptive equipment, specialized curricula in handwriting and keyboarding, and classroom activities promoting sensory motor input help students operate more effectively in their class setting. The OT also works with teachers to learn how to take sensory issues into account in designing classroom activities and layout and helping students learn to regulate their emotions and behavior.
Speech and Language
Impairments in spoken and written language, including pragmatic language, may directly impact a student's ability to develop age-appropriate skills and may hinder his/her ability to access age-level curriculum. Full time speech pathologists provide one-on-one services to the almost 50% of our Elementary/Middle School students needing speech and language services. Given that most of our students have language-based or non-verbal learning disabilities, an accurate assessment and recommendation of needed interventions is critical to student success. Areas most frequently addressed include phonemic awareness, articulation, expressive and receptive skills, written language and pragmatics.