Center for Alternative Learning

6 E. Eagle Road

Havertown, PA 19083


Serving Those Who Learn Differently 

Learning disAbilities Newsletter

Vol. 16 No.2              January 1999

 Center for Alternative Learning

6 East Eagle Road

Havertown, PA 19083




Center For Alternative Learning

January 30, 1999

10:00 to 2:00

        The staff of the Center for Alternative Learning will host an Open House on January 30th.  This event will provide the local community an opportunity to visit with Dr. Cooper and other staff members to learn about the mission and work of the Center.  This is an ideal time for individuals who are interested in becoming volunteer tutors to visit the Center and learn about volunteer opportunities.  Dr. Cooper will conduct two question and answer sessions during the day for parents of children who learn differently.  These sessions will take place at 11:00 AM and 1:00 PM. Refreshments will be served.

        Two volunteer tutor training sessions are scheduled at the Center for our volunteers working with adults learning to speak English.   These training sessions (January 20th - 6:30 to 8:30 and repeated on February 10 - 10:00 to 12:00) will provide experienced and new tutors with practical, easy to use techniques for helping students to improve reading, spelling and conversation skills.


The Center Drop-In Times

Monday, Tuesday and Thursday

1:00 to 3:00 Adult Basic Skills

Monday and Wednesday Evenings

6:00 to 8:00 Adult Basic Skills

Tuesday and Thursday Mornings

10:00 to 11:30 English as a Second Language


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        Remember to mark your calendars for the Galaxy II Adult Education Conference which will be held in San Antonio, Texas, on October 12 to 17, 1999. Galaxy II is a combined conference of a number of adult education associations including the National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs.  For more information about what will be an historical event in adult education, contact Linda Stacy at AAACE:  202-429-5131.


National Speaking Schedule

        As the new year begins Dr. Cooper finds himself revisiting a number of organizations where he conducted training last year.

He will be at:

    Peirce College, Philadelphia, PA    (Jan. 4);

    Parents Group at William Penn School District, Landsdowne, PA    (Jan 21)

    PAACE Conference, Hershey, PA    (Feb. 4 & 5)    

    MBF Computer Training Center, Norristown, PA   (Feb. 15)

    Milwaukee Area Technical College, Milwaukee, WI   (Feb. 18, 19,   & 20)

    St. Gabriel Schools for Youth, Southeastern PA    (six sessions to  be announced)

    Practical Nursing Administrators Association,Lewisburg, PA    (May 6)

    Kansas Adult Education Summer Institute, Manhattan, KS    (July 7, 8 & 9)

        In addition, a number of new agencies are in the process of scheduling presentations. The dates for these will be included in up-coming newsletters and listed on our web site (


Borders Books in Bryn Mawr Aids Center for Alternative Learning

        Borders Books and Music made a donation of $100 to the Center for Alternative Learning as part of its program to encourage family literacy. The Center was chosen by the local store in Rosemont, PA to be the recipient for the first quarter of its year long promotion of family literacy. During 1998 a number of people added a donation for the Center to their order form Learning disAbilities Resources and this newsletter. These monies will be used to defray the cost of providing learning assessment to families who are unable to pay for testing for learning problems. We are also very thankful for three other donations: we recently received two computers and a VCR. These donations of used equipment fill a void we had in our instructional equipment. Thank you all for your donations!



       Dr. Cooper has recently completed a revision of the The Cooper Screening of Information Processing.  Although there has been little change in the content of the screening instrument, he has made it a little easier to administer. A new video has been produced which includes Dr. Cooper administering the Screening and explaining how it is constructed and how to administer it to adults and children with various learning and attention problems. Dr. Cooper is preparing a manual for the Screening which will help educators to use the screening not only as a way to determine if there is a need for additional testing for learning disabilities but also as a way to determine instructional techniques based on the results found in the screening.

        We were pleased to hear that Dr. Cooper’s screening has been included in the new resource entitled Bridges which is being disseminated by the National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center which is funded by the National Institute for Literacy. The Cooper Screening is one of 14 screening instruments included in Bridges.


Questions & Answers

Q) The student I am working with can do single digit multiplication but has not been able to learn how to do double or multiple digit multiplication problems. What can I do to help this student?

A) Three things you can try to help your student to do two digit multiplication.

1. Have her tell you the steps for doing two digit multiplication problems without doing the calculations. This allows her to concentrate on the process without worrying about the calculations. It goes quicker so you can have her get more repetition learning the process. If she gets mixed up explaining it orally, give her hints until she can explain it correctly.

2. A second technique is to have your student add Xs and Os to the process. It would be easier to explain it than write it, but here goes:    take the numbers        

2 4
x 3 1

The student multiplies the 1 times the four and then the1 times two as usual. Then the student puts an X through the 1 and an 0 under the four to hold the place value.    This extra step enables some students to remember the process better.

3. The third way is to have the student rewrite the problem: 24 x 31 becomes 24 x 1 and 24 x 30 and the two answers are added together.


Q) I have a student who does not know the letters of the alphabet. We have been working on the sounds of the letters but there is very little progress. How can I teach the student learn the alphabet?

A) I suggest that you place less emphasis on the alphabet and more on word recognition. For students with severe reading disabilities, learning the alphabet may be a discouraging task because the person may never be able to remember the names and sounds of the letters especially in a sequence from A to Z. Make a list of words you know the person sees in the environment and work on these. The environmental words are easier to learn because the location of the words provides contextual clues.


Q) How can we assist adult students become familiar with our programs?

A) In the training Designing Adult programs for Students with Learning Differences, Dr. Cooper suggests that programs prepare an in-house video to reduce no-shows for appointments. Policies procedures, rules regulations, admission procedures, examples of what to expect.


Remember to visit our web site


Time Telling Aids

        During the seventeen years that I have been working with individuals who learn differently, I have frequently encountered children and adults who struggle with telling time. They usually do not have difficulty telling time with digital clocks or watches but rather with analog clocks and watches. To complicate the process, they hear the terms half past, a quarter to, a quarter after and five to. These terms are often meaningless to individuals who have difficulty either with language or with math or both. But more fundamentally I find that individuals who cannot tell time with an analog clock are missing something. That something is very simply information. Analog clocks and watches do not show the minutes and many individuals do not understand that the minutes are implied on the clock face.

        It is often difficult for people who do not think and learn differently to understand how someone could not understand that the numbers for the minutes are implied on the clock face. Once you learn to tell time, you tend to forget that there was a time in your life when you did not understand the clock face. If you take a moment and look at an analog clock or watch you will see that it is a rare clock (and I have never seen a watch) which has the numbers for the minutes. Some clocks have the hours marked from 1 to 12 with little lines for the minutes. Others have no numbers, just marks for the 12 hours and 60 minutes. Once you know how to tell time using an analog clock, there is no need for the numbers, and art and design take their place. However, for the child or the adult who has never learned to tell time on an analog clock or watch, the few numbers or art and designs are meaningless. I have found the clock face included in this newsletter to be a simple solution to the problem of teaching time to those who "don’t get it".   I simply put all the numbers on the clock face and the person can read this clock like a digital time piece. The person reads the hour with the small hand and the minute with the large hand.

        Sometimes all a person needs is to see this clock face and it all makes sense, but more commonly, they need to practice with this clock for a while before they are able to read clocks with fewer numbers. In addition to the clock faces in this newsletter, I have prepared additional clock faces with progressively more numbers removed from the clock to assist children and adults to learn to tell time with any clock.  These additional clock faces are introduced as the student demonstrates his or her understanding of the implied numbers.



How to Use the Time Telling Aid      

        The clock face included in this newsletter (Figure A) can be used as a work sheet in two different ways.  One way is to have a person point to the hour and minutes on this clock face. This should be done both orally and visually. For example you tell the person to show you 1:25 on the clock face. The person will point to the large 1 on the inner circle of numbers and to the small 25 on the outer circle of numbers. This exercise should be completed daily until the person can easily point to the correct time.  To have the person practice reading digital clock and converting to the analog clock face, give the person a list of various times as they would appear on a digital clock and have him or her point to the hour and minute on this clock face. At this time, don’t worry about the concept of the small hand being between the hour numbers unless the person inquires about it. (This skill is added later).  Another way to use this worksheet is to have the person draw the hands on the clock face which correspond to the digital times that you say or they read. This exercise should be repeated until the person can identify the correct hour and minute.

        After the person can easily identify the hour and the minute, the concept of the small hand moving gradually to the next hour can be introduced. Place a small mark halfway between each of the inner circle numbers, and instruct the person to draw the small hand on the side of the hour of the lesser number if the minutes are less than 30 and on the side closer to the larger number of the hour if the minutes are more than 30.  (Figure B)  Once this concept is understood and the person can correctly position the hour and minute hands, then two more marks can be made between the numbers on the inner circle. Now the person draws the small hand between the smaller number and the first mark for minutes less than 15, between this mark and the middle mark for minutes between 15 and 30. between the middle mark and the third mark for minutes between 30 and 45 and between the third mark and the next hour for minutes between 45 and 60. Now these marks can be labeled 1/4, 1/2/ and 3/4 and the concept of fractions of hours can be introduced and practiced.

A More Permanent Clock Face.

        To make a more permanent clock face, you can glue this clock face to a piece or cardboard or wood. Make the clock hands out of more durable material and this time telling aid will help many people learn to tell time.

        A packet of 5 of each of the 6 worksheets can be purchased from Learning disAbilities Resources, item number 190 for $5.59. If you do not have a copy of the 1999 LDR catalog, call 800-869-8336 and we will mail one to you. If you have access to the world wide web on the Internet, you can find the LDR catalog on our web site:



Pennsylvania Statewide

Staff Development Project

        Dr. Cooper was busy during the early half of December conducting training sessions at six agencies. He has offered three of the four new training sessions he developed for this project year and he is scheduled to conduct the fourth in Indiana on his visit in April to ARIN Adult Education. A number of agencies have taken advantage of the screening component of this year’s staff development project. This involves the demonstration of the Cooper Screening of Information Processing to adult educators and tutors by using students from their programs who are suspected to have learning problems. With the students’ permission, program staff sit in and observe the screening process. Upon completion of the screening, Dr. Cooper provides the student and staff with suggestions on ways to improve the students’ learning and study skills. These include an explanation about how the student is processing information and compensatory and alternative instructional techniques.

On February 11th Dr. Cooper will facilitate a discussion after a teleconference broadcast Teaching Literacy to Adults with Learning Disabilities for the Southeastern PDC at the IU Building in Exton. The broadcast will begin at 2:00 PM and the discussion will end at 5:00. Anyone interested in attending should contact Ilsa Powell Diller at 717-519-1005

Agencies which would like to discuss training about adults with learning differences can contact Dr. Cooper at 1-800-869-8336. This toll free number can also be used by adult educators and tutors in Pennsylvania who have questions about how to provide instruction to adults who learn differently. The Center’s web site ( is another way to contact Dr. Cooper and obtain information about learning differences, problems and disabilities.


Schedule for January and February

Jan. 5

DuBois Literacy Council 5:30 - 9:00
Tutoring Tips for Students With Learning Disabilities


Jan. 6

Williamsport Literacy

11:30 - 3:00
Questions and Answers Williamsport
Jan. 7 Rockville State Correction Institution 8:30 - 4:30
Working with Students with Learning Disabilities Bellefonte
Jan. 8

Philadelphia PDC at the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy

9:00 - 12:00
Improving Reading Comprehension Philadelphia
Jan. 15 Philadelphia PDC at the Mayor’s Commission on Literacy 9:00 - 12:00
Helping Parents Understand Children Who Have Learning Differences Philadelphia
Jan. 16 Wayne/Pike Literacy Council 9:30 - 12:00
If They Learn Differently, Shouldn't They Study Differently Hawley
Feb. 24 ARIN Intermediate Unit 9:00 - 11:30
Classroom Demonstration Indiana
Feb. 24 ARIN Intermediate Unit 1:00 - 4:00
Using Mnemonics to Help Students Who Learn Differently Indiana
Feb. 27 Berks County Literacy Council 9:30 - 2:30
Employment and Learning Problems Reading


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