|Center for Alternative
6 E. Eagle Road
Havertown, PA 19083
Serving Those Who Learn Differently
Vol. 16 No.3 March 1999
Center for Alternative Learning
6 East Eagle Road
Havertown, PA 19083
|Tic Tac Toe Math
The Pennsylvania Department of Corrections is cooperating with Dr. Cooper on a research project to collect data on the effectiveness of Tic Tac Toe Math and a search for a profile of those individuals who need the system and easily learn it. The project involves Dr. Cooper training inmate tutors who will teach Tic Tac Toe Math to other inmates who do not know the times tables. The Cooper Screening of Information Processing will be administered to all the inmates participating in the project to determine if they have any learning differences. This information will be used to determine which learning differences make it easier or more difficult for individuals to learn Tic Tac Toe Math. The inmate tutors will keep a log of the lessons so that Dr. Cooper can collect data about the rate of learning and the correlation of that learning to the information obtained from the Screening.
In addition to the research project at the prison, Dr. Cooper is collecting information from teachers and students who have tried or used Tic Tac Toe Math. If you are a student or a teacher who has tried or used Tic Tac Toe Math, we would like to hear from you. We want to know the success stories and the not so successful stories. You can either write us by regular mail or e-mail describing your experience with Tic Tac Toe Math or you can arrange for a phone interview with a member of our staff.
National Adult Literacy and Learning Disabilities Center has produced Bridges to Practice, a training manual to help practitioners to make systematic changes to assist programs to meet the needs of adults with learning disabilities. At a recent Bridges training in North Carolina, conducted by the project operated by Literacy Volunteers of America and Laubach, Dr. Coopers Screening and Sight/Sound System were reviewed.
Mark your calendar for the adult education conference of the decade. The 1999 NAASLN Conference will be part of the Galaxy II Conference in San Antonio, Texas. The dates for the conference are October 12 to 17. Galaxy II is a combined conference on adult education. The National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs has joined the American Association for Adult and Continuing Education (AAACE) and others to bring together adult educators from many disciplines to share ideas and concerns and share information about a wide range of topics of interest to adult educators. NAASLN is responsible for that part of the program which deals with adults with special learning needs. The day prior to the beginning of the conference there will be an Adult Education Leadership Summit. The purpose of the Summit will be to highlight, discuss and debate the critical issues facing the field of adult education in the coming millennium. For more information about the Summit and the conference, visit the web site www.albany.edu/aaace/conferences/annual.htmlCenter For Alternative Learning
The Center continues to provide services to adults with learning differences and adults who have limited English skills. We are looking for individuals in Southeastern Pennsylvania who have learning problems. Students who are willing to participate will be screened for learning problems and take part in instruction which will be measured to gather data on the effectiveness of the learning materials developed by Dr. Cooper.
The Center also invites volunteers to participate in the project. Volunteers who would like to be trained in the techniques used at the Center can participate in monthly tutor training sessions. Tutors will observe one or more tutoring sessions conducted by Dr. Cooper with students who have learning problems in reading, writing or math. The next tutor training at the Center will be held on Wednesday morning, April 14th from 10:00 to 12:00.
|National Speaking Schedule
Dr. Cooper conducted two workshop at the Adult Learner Conference in Pennsylvania in March helping adult learners and new readers to understand how learning differences, problems or disabilities might have affected their learning or school experiences. He had the privilege of meeting Pennsylvanias First Lady, Michelle Ridge at the conference. She expressed her support for aiding both adults and children who have learning problems.
The Learning disAbilities Resources Catalog
The staff of Learning disAbilities Resources receives many calls from individuals requesting the catalog which they say contains many practical instructional tools for individuals with learning differences or weak academic skills. These parents and teachers tell us that a friend or colleague showed them a copy of the catalog and ask why they did not receive a copy. We try to spread the catalog far and wide, but it is difficult with aging mailing lists and changing addresses to distribute the catalog to all who might find it useful. To fill in the gaps in distribution, we are looking for individuals who would be willing to distribute the LDR Catalog to their colleagues at their schools, agencies and at conferences. To obtain a supply of catalogs, contact our office at 1-800-869-8336 and provide us with the number of catalogs you need and the date that you need them.C-SIP
Dr. Cooper has recently completed a revision of the Cooper Screening of Information Processing. Although there has been little change in the content of the screening instrument, he has made it 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.
Questions & Answers
Q)A student I am tutoring is having difficulty counting money. He is OK with dollar bills but gets confused when counting change. What can I do to help him?
A) The first thing you should check is whether the student can count by 25s. Frequently individuals who have problems with money are unable to count by intervals of 25. Common errors are 25, 35, 45 or 25, 50, 60, 70. Because these students are not able to count by 25s, they begin counting change with dimes or nickels, and they cannot add the quarters. For example if the person has three dimes, one nickel and three quarter, the person will count 10, 20, 30, 35 and then get stuck. If the person has learned to count by 25, it is an easy task to add up the change, 25, 50, 75, 80, 90, 100, and 110. Counting by 25s can take some practice for those who are not accustomed to doing so.
Staff Development Project
In cooperation with the South Central Professional Development Center, Dr. Cooper wrote a Training Module on the Characteristics of Learning Differences. The module is being presented statewide through all six Professional Development Centers. The development of the five hour training module enables other adult educators to provide a basic understanding of learning differences to adult educators. Once they have that basic understanding, they get more out of Dr. Coopers other training sessions on the "how to" of assisting and teaching adults with learning differences, problems and disabilities. Adult education programs which are interested in this training should contact their local PDC.
In addition to training sessions Dr. Cooper has been conducting demonstrations of his screening and instructional techniques which he has developed. Teachers and tutors who participated in these demonstrations reported that they have been very beneficial and an excellent way to get a good understanding of how alternative techniques can be used to match a students thought patterns. Teachers and tutors can contact Dr. Cooper at 1-800-869-8336 to inquire about alternative techniques or to ask questions about their students. The Centers web site (www.learningdifferences.com) is another way to contact Dr. Cooper and obtain information about learning differences, problems and disabilities.
Spring Training Schedule
The following article written by Dr. Richard Cooper appeared in the Pennsylvania Adult Education Newsletter "Whats the Buzz," Vol.18, No 4, March 1999.Learning Differences
The field of learning disabilities and adult literacy is changing as you read this. New research is producing exciting information about the functions of the brain and their relationship to learning differences. Systematic long term studies and new brain scan technology have accelerated the body of knowledge about learning disabilities. Research projects funded through the National Institute of Health which compare individuals who are good readers to those who are poor readers have found differences in the way the brain processes written language. Another study found that adults with reading problems who have learned to read use different areas of their brains for reading than those who have no problems.
One aspect of the research into reading disabilities has identified phonological awareness (what I refer to in my training as the structure of language) as the primary indicator of reading skills. Individuals who have phonological awareness, either because they made the connection between the sounds in words and the symbols which they represent or because they learned those relationships, become good readers. Individuals who do not have such awareness tend to be poor readers. Phonological awareness does not just mean teaching phonics but rather teaching the basic concepts of language, sounds, word and sentence structure.
A part the current research projects is an attempt to redefine learning and attention problems. Current definitions of learning disabilities are deemed inadequate. This is understandable since this is a young field of study and there are many disciplines involved. The current research projects will produce better definitions and probably subtypes of learning disabilities and attention problems which will reduce the confusion that adult educators often find when trying to understand adults who have difficulties learning. (For a summary of the research projects funded by the National Institute of Health see: www.nih.gov/nichd/html/news/LD.htm)
As the findings from research about learning disabilities continue to add to our knowledge about how these individuals learn, we will continually need to adapt our basic assumptions and our instructional techniques to match the findings. The research will undoubtedly confirm some of the current ideas about learning disabilities and instructional techniques and force educators to rethink their methods.
In spite of all the emphasis that now is being placed on reading, adult educators need to keep in mind that reading problems are not the only ways that learning differences affect individuals. These differences can also limit skills development in math, oral communication, logic, organization, social skills and other areas of functioning.
Adult educators need to keep in mind that only a minority of the individuals who have learning differences are disabled. Those who have severe problems meet the criteria under the American with Disabilities Act of having an impairment in a major life function. Most of the individuals in adult education programs who have learning differences can learn, especially when they are taught using methods which rely on their strengths rather than their weaknesses. Our challenge as adult educators is to learn as much as we can about how our adult students might learn differently than most teachers do and find instructional techniques which match their ways of processing information. The research findings that demonstrates that people with reading problems learn to read differently than the norm supports the philosophy of using "what ever works" in the teaching of reading. In other words one size does not fit all. We need to continue to develop alternative instructional techniques and learn from each other how to help adults with learning differences to improve their basic academic skills.