Improved Outcomes for Students with Disabilities

The students in Meryl Taylor’s 5th grade self-contained classroom are busy constructing higher order thinking questions and engaging each other with these questions during classroom discussion. They are proud of their ability to challenge each other to think more deeply about topics and are showing more confidence during student-led discussions.

How did these students become so adept at critical questioning and discussion techniques?

Here’s what Meryl has to say:
“I began infusing higher-order thinking (HOT) questions by level into my guided reading groups. My students were able to answer these HOT questions about their reading either by turning and talking to the person next to them or by stopping and jotting the answers in their notebooks. I then taught them specific stems for HOT questions and they began using HOT questions in classroom discussions. I have found that asking and answering HOT questions has promoted increased engagement in discussions. It has also enabled students to think more deeply about the current topic.”

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • Students with disabilities in many classrooms are successfully engaging in student-to-student discourse that requires analysis, synthesis and evaluation.
  • Teachers can teach students explicit strategies for independently generating and responding to HOT questions.
Samantha Gibbons, Reading Specialist at Greenburgh Academy says, “Students in my self-contained class, ranging in age from 12 to 15, often find staying on task for an entire lesson a significant challenge. However, when I developed a lesson using the EDI Lesson Plan template, the students were engaged and excited the entire period. By the end of the lesson every student demonstrated mastery of the literary strategy that was taught!

What did Samantha’s lesson look like?

I planned a lesson that addressed each of the components of EDI:

  • I had a clearly stated objective for students to learn the literary element of flashback.
  • I activated prior knowledge by showing a clip from the video The Lion King.
  • Using the clip, I talked about lesson importance and modeled the concept and skill development.
  • I engaged students in guided practice as the students read the chapter where the character had a flashback and made connections between the flashback in the video clip and the book.
  • Students then independently practiced identifying flashbacks and illustrating them.
  • During lesson closure the students answered questions and shared their work, demonstrating mastery of the learning objective.
  • Throughout the lesson I checked for understanding, verifying that students were learning.

What can we learn from this Bright Spot?

  • EDI allows the teacher and students to be active participants in their learning.
  • The components of EDI help students feel more confident, and therefore excited, as learners.
  • Planning using the EDI framework has helped me as a teacher to make my instruction intentional, purposeful and consistent. I love it!


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