For my campus event I went to a talk held by Rick Lavoie, M.A., M.Ed. Rick Lavoie holds a degree in Special Education and holds two Honorary Doctorates in Education from the University of Massachusetts and Mitchell College. Rick has lectured at many universities such as Harvard and Syracuse and he has also appeared on numerous national television shows such as the TODAY show and Good Morning America. This talk was about how to teach children with learning disabilities. This talk was directed for teaching fellows so this talk contained lots of very useful and specific information about learning disabilities and how to teach children who have learning disabilities. I took notes and wrote down various quotes that Rick said. One thing that Rick states was that “memorization days are over due to google and the access available to us”. This quote means that you shoud not completely focus on specific facts and questions because information is readily available to us at our fingertips, but teach your students how to learn and how to look up information. This is because information is constantly changing, information that was useful in the 90’s might not be useful today, but if the students are taught how to learn instead of memorization of facts they will do better in the future. Another thing that Rick touched on is that students with learning disabilities and special needs often do not understand social contracts. Because special needs children do not understand social contracts they need to be helped out using something called a social skill autopsy. When a kid with special needs makes a social mistake and gets made fun of or left out because of it the teacher should conduct a social skill autopsy. This social skill autopsy contains four steps:
step 1: have the student tell you what happened
step 2: ask the student what he or she thinks they did wrong
step 3: teach the student a social skill lesson
step 4:explain a social skill scenario based on what the student just learned in step 3.
The last thing that Rick Lavoie shared was that he thinks that all students should share the classroom and that students should not be separated by special needs. Rick feels like the special needs students do not hold back the regular students and the special needs students benefit from having regular students learning with them.