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2.9 Supporting Students with Learning Disabilities in Reading Primary Sources

In “Teaching History to Support Diverse Learners,” the National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd) explains that students with learning disabilities need extra support to make inquiry-based instruction in history/social studies accessible. The centers recommend supplementing inquiry based-instruction to teach students to think like historians as discussed previously in this unit with supports designed for students with learning disabilities:

Establish Purpose

  • Provide teacher-developed essential questions with background knowledge about the documents.
  • Provide the documents in multiple formats, which allow students to hear, read, observe, or experience these concepts.

Evaluate Sources

  • Providing students with the text-dependent questions to support students’ recognition and strategic learning, both principles of Universal Design for Learning (UDL).
  • Guide students through exploration of digital materials that support recognition and strategic learning as well as students’ affective learning, another UDL principle, as they offer students choices and multiple paths of exploration.

Corroborate Sources

  • Embed scaffolds when asking students to synthesize multiple perspectives across conflicting sources such as using the same questions for each source.
  • Have students complete a graphic organizer to record and organize their answers using a digital environment where they can highlight, sort, or otherwise annotate information.

National Center for Technology Innovation and Center for
Implementing Technology in Education (CITEd), 2007

Time to Go

UDL Editions by the Center for Applied Special Technology (CAST) offers an interactive exploration of the Gettysburg Address for students with disabilities. This is a model of how to use technology to make history/social studies documents accessible for students with disabilities. Explore the interactive lesson and consider how you could apply this approach to other topics for your students.

Time to Extend

For more information, see Chapter 7, Universal Access to the History-Social Science Curriculum, of the 2014 draft of the CA History-Social Science Framework (which the Instructional Quality Commission is using as the starting points for revision due to the State Board of Education for adoption in May 2015). The chapter addresses differentiation for all students including students with disabilities.