As I looked over the IEP’s of this year’s incoming students I know that despite the variety of qualifying disability most, if not all 10 of this year’s students, will not be able to read beyond a few words, at best. Once again, it will be up to me, the education specialist, to advance the child’s reading abilities. How far, will depend on each individual case, however, I vow that each of my student’s will make as much progress as possible. For me to be successful, I must address the learning ability of each child. Much of that ability is connected to working memory.
Studies have found that reading comprehension heavily utilizes working memory Swanson & O’Connor, 2009; Martinussen & Tannock, 2006). Working memory holds recently perceived information and makes connections with prior knowledge in order for comprehension to occur. Working memory holds recently perceived information and makes connections with prior knowledge in order for comprehension to occur. The function of working memory is described in the information processing theoretical model of learning.
The information processing models for learning and language acquisition both stress the importance of attention, short-term, and working memory in the communication process (Kuder, 2008; Lerner & Kline, 2006). Attention enables the discrimination of information in short-term memory and the transfer and retrieval of information from long-term memory (Kuder, 2008). In this way, new information is related to previously stored knowledge. Working memory accepts information from the senses, processes the information, and passes it to short-term memory. Working memory, which allows for simultaneous storage and processing of temporary information, has been the focus of research on children with reading disabilities (RD), language impairments (LI) and ADHD (Martinussen & Tannock, 2006; Swanson, Kehler, & Jerman, 2010).
For me the practitioner, this all means that I must use instructional methods that assist students in receiving information, integrating it with prior knowledge, and moving it to short-term, and long-term memory.
When I read over the third grade standard, which my Kinder Level students are expected to master this school year, I think to myself, can they remember all that! I personally carry several journals to assist with my own memory deficits. I have one journal that I use at the computer; of course it includes passwords and web addresses and hints to where things are stored on the computer. I have another journal that I use at my teacher’s desk; it includes notes about my students, lesson preparation needs, and a host of other information. I have a third journal at my home desk; it has domestic errands, to-do, to pay, to call and the like. In addition, I keep a calendar, both month and week view, and a separate lesson plan book. I have two personal bulletin boards one at school with flyers placed in date order, of upcoming in-service training and events. The other at home, with a calendar and need to address items held by clear push-pins. I wear my classroom keys around my neck, and I have a hook where I hang all my keys when I enter the house. I rely on my cell phone for telephone numbers, addresses, and GPS directions. I am self-teaching myself Spanish, so of course I have a journal for that too. It takes me a long time to remember Spanish phrases. I practice them daily with my students. They like to hear me struggle to speak their home language. I take out my journal to help me, and I encourage them to do the same.
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Kuder, S. J. (2008). Teaching students with language and communication disabilities (3rd ed.) Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Lerner, J., & Kline, F. (2006). Learning disabilities and related disorders characteristics and teaching strategies (10th ed.) Boston: Houghton Mifflin.
Martinussen, R., & Tannock, R. (2006). Working Memory Impairments in Children with Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder With and Without Comorbid Language Learning Disorders. Journal of Clinical & Experimental Neuropsychology, 28(7), 1073-1094. doi:10.1080/13803390500205700
Swanson, H., Kehler, P., & Jerman, O.. (2010). Working Memory, Strategy Knowledge, and Strategy Instruction in Children With Reading Disabilities. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 43(1), 24-47. Retrieved February 15, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1925698631).
Swanson, H., & O’Connor, R.. (2009). The Role of Working Memory and Fluency Practice on the Reading Comprehension of Students Who Are Dysfluent Readers. Journal of Learning Disabilities, 42(6), 548-75. Retrieved February 18, 2010, from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (Document ID: 1899099741).
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