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Center for Alternative Learning

6 E. Eagle Road

Havertown, PA 19083

Serving Those Who Learn Differently


Learning disAbilities



Vol. 18 No. 2                            January 2001


Center for Alternative Learning

6 East Eagle Road

Havertown, PA 19083




Learning Differences Center

The Bureau of Adult Basic and Literacy Education has funded the Learning Differences Center through a Statewide Leadership Grant. The grant was awarded to Stairways Behavioral Health in Erie which also operates the Northwest Professional Development Center. The Center’s Director is Dr. Richard Gacka and the Project Coordinator is Bootsie Barbour. They will head the Center’s activities which include a wide range of training activities to improve the state’s delivery of services to adults who learn differently. The Center will coordinate the training and technical assistance activities offered by Dr. Cooper, the Bridges to Practice training, the training modules offered through the South-Central PDC and future training activities. The Center will bring together resources from around the state that impact the instruction of adults with learning differences.


Director Dr. Richard Gacka, 814-878-2005 [email protected]

Project Coordinator Bootsie Barbour, 814-878-2008 [email protected]

Scheduling of Dr. Cooper training

Lorraine Bucklin, 814-878-2010 [email protected]

Questions about adults with learning differences

Dr. Richard Cooper 800-869-8336 [email protected] www.learningdifferences.com


National Training Activities

Texas Literacy Conference Dr. Cooper was asked to be the main speaker at the Conference Luncheon in Austin on February 2nd. His topic: How Individuals Learn Differently will draw from his personal and professional experiences to help literacy providers understand how individuals perceive, process and communicate differently. In addition, he will make two presentations at the conference: Writing Techniques for Adults with Limited Written Language Skills and Tic Tac Toe Math. This is a return trip to Austin for Dr. Cooper. In October 2000, he made three presentations to overflowing crowds at the Texas Learning Disabilities Association Conference.


Professional Development for Louisiana Adult Educators Adult educators in Louisiana are participating in a course Adults with Learning Differences offered through Louisiana State University. Dr. Cooper will make three trips to Baton Rouge to conduct five days of instruction about how to screen for learning differences, develop educational plans and provide direct individualized instruction to adults who learn differently. Course participants will then work with LSU’s Dr. Jerri Holmes to complete the assignments and other course requirements.


Professional Development Kit A project being conducted at NCAL (National Center for Adult Literacy at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia) is working on a Professional Development Kit that will be a web based professional development program with video segments on computer CD disks. One of the subjects included in this kit is learning disabilities and some of the video presentations will be of Dr. Cooper demonstrating instructional techniques to Pennsylvania’s adult educators and the direct instruction of an adult student learning to read. When this program is available, we will provide the details about how to access it in this newsletter.


Ohio, New Mexico and New York Adult Education Conferences Dr. Cooper will offer a strand on learning differences at the Ohio Adult Education Conference in Columbus on April 6 and 7. He will also be presenting three workshops at the nine state Mountain/Plains Adult Education Conference in Albuquerque, New Mexico on April 26 and 27. On May 1st, at the New York Adult Education Conference, he will do a presentation about Learning Differences in the Workplace.


Questions & Answers

Q I am tutoring an 34 year old man who does not know how to read or write. I have been trying to get him to complete writing assignments but he makes every excuse not to do these assignments. What can I do to get him to write?


A Many individuals who have low level reading and writing skills have learning disabilities that interfere with their ability to learn written language. I find that adults who have poor reading skills avoid writing because of their limited understanding of the structure of language. I do not have beginning readers write. I explain to them that after they have increased their reading skills, we will use these reading skills to help them with spelling and writing. Depending on the progress that the student makes, I usually do not begin working on writing for four months.


Q One of my colleagues told me that in one of your training sessions on reading you stated that students should not guess. What do you mean, guessing can be an effective reading technique for understanding words which are beyond the person’s reading level?


A No Guessing applies to individuals who have weak written languae skills, especially those who have a right/left discrimination problem. When the person guesses, he or she adds both the correct and incorrect item to the memory. I see adults guessing the same words that I see children guessing. The know to words but are unable to distinguish between the two. By teaching them memory techniques these individuals can learn to distinguish between the confusables.



Familiar Van As many of our readers know, Dr. Cooper travels extensively and much of that is by auto. For those of you who know his black and silver van with over 210,000 miles on the odometer, will be pleased to know that it has a new life. With new parts: engine, transmission, steering, brakes, tires, and a variety of smaller new parts, the van has a new lease on life and should continue to carry the driver and the learning materials to teachers and parents for many years to come.


National News

Disabilities Web Site The Presidential Task Force on Employment of Adults with Disabilities has added two new sections to its website: www.disAbility.gov. The new Employer’s Resource section provides business access to information that facilitates recruiting, hiring and making easy, low-cost accommodations for employees with disabilities. The new Media Resource section will offer journalists and broadcasters information on appropriate language for reporting about people with disabilities, interviewing tips, and a growing bibliography of publications and films that depict the disability experience.


NAASLN The National Association for Adults with Special Learning Needs Conference will be held in Milwaukee, WI in September 2001. Watch the NAASLN website (NAASLN.org) for details about call for papers, program development, and registration information.


Screening Dr. Daryl Mellard came to Philadelphia to video tape Dr. Cooper explaining the administration and scoring of the short version of the C-SIP (Cooper Screening of Information Processing) The Spanish version will be field tested in seven states by the researchers at the University of Kansas. The staff at the National Center for Adult Literacy provided space for the video taping and also taped the session as part of the other project mentioned on the previous page.


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LDR Catalog

Plans to have a new Learning disAbilities Resources Catalog ready by January 2001 were not realized. We are currently working on the new LDR Catalog and hope to have it completed by March and begin mailing it out immediately.


Learning Differences Center

Staff Development Training Sessions

Presenter: Richard Cooper, Ph.D.


Jan. 10 Harrisburg School District Harrisburg

Teaching Reading and Math Skills to Adults 5:00 - 8:00


Jan. 12 Philadelphia Professional Development Center Philadelphia

Teaching ESL to Adults with Learning Differences 9:00 - 12:00


Jan. 16 ARIN Intermediate Unit Indiana

Teaching Writing to Adults with Weak Language Skills 9:00 - 3:00


Jan. 16 Clarion Co. Literacy Council Clarion

Tic Tac Toe Math 5:00 - 8:00


Jan. 17 GECACLC Erie

Teaching to Adults with Learning Differences 1:00 - 3:00


Jan. 17 GED Network Meadville

Teaching GED English and Math 6:00 - 9:00


Jan. 18 Stairways Erie

Screening Demonstrations 9:00 - 11:00


Jan. 18 Venango Co. Literacy Council Oil City

Tic Tac Toe Math 5:00 - 8:00


Jan. 19 FOR Adult Education McKees Rocks

Avoidance Activities and Vocabulary Development 9:00 - 12:00

Repeat 1:00 - 4:00


Jan. 27 Philadelphia Professional Development Center Philadelphia

Teaching Reading and Writing to Adults 9:00 - 12:00



State Adult Education Conference -- The staff of the Learning Differences Center will conduct a strand of six presentations at the Pennsylvania Association for Adult and Continuing Education (PAACE) in Hershey, PA -- February 7 to 9, 2001.


February 7th Wednesday 4:15 - 5:30 Introduction to Learning Differences

Presenters: Dr. Richard Cooper and Dr. Richard Gacka

February 7th Wednesday 7:30 - 8:45 Types of Learning Problems

Presenters: Dr. Richard Gacka and Dr. Richard Cooper

February 8th Thursday 2:15 to 3:30 Teaching Writing to Individuals with Weak Writing Skills

Presenter: Dr. Richard Cooper

February 8th Thursday 4:00 to 5:15 Learning Disabilities -- The ABLE Practitioner and Assessment through the

Office of Vocational Rehabilitation

February 9th Friday 8:00 to 9:15 Learning Differences in the Workplace

Presenter: Dr. Richard Cooper

February 9th Friday 9:30 to 10:45 A Sampler from Bridges to Practice

Bootsie Barbour, Helen Hall, Ester Bratton

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