Using four exemplary practices that support cognitive growth, Imagine Learning English is a great way to help students with disabilities expand basic and academic vocabulary, increase reading grade levels, and master literacy and vocabulary.
- Screen and monitor student progress. Identify students’ instructional needs and regularly monitor their progress.
- Elaborate on and model instructional tasks. Present tasks explicitly and systematically, so students are more able to perform and understand task parameters.
- Differentiate instruction based on assessments and ongoing monitoring.
- Deliver intensive daily instruction. More time and more intensity is required when instructing students with disabilities–the amount of time spent on learning tasks is the single best indicator of academic gains.
Screen and monitor student progress
The National Center for Education Evaluation and Regional Assistance, the Institute of Education Sciences, and the US Department of Education created a practice guide that emphasized the need to screen and monitor student progress. Imagine Learning English includes a placement test at the beginning of the program, and assessment activities are embedded within each lesson to track student progress.
Elaborate on and model instructional tasks
H. Lee Swanson discusses the importance of explicit instruction in his article What instruction works for students with learning disabilities. In Imagine Learning English, students are given explicit instructions on how to accomplish a task, complete with steps and thought modeling where appropriate. This includes instruction on how to answer common comprehension questions, like literal and inferential questions.
Imagine Learning differentiates instruction in many ways:
- The placement test determines separate starting points in vocabulary instruction, literacy instruction, and oral language development.
- The program regulates or sequences instruction based on students’ performance. If, for example, a student has mastered a set of vocabulary words, three lessons in a row, the program will accelerate instruction, streamlining activities. On the other hand, if a student is not mastering a concept, the program will reteach it. If students fail to recognize reading words, they will practice the words again before they read and record a story, so they can be successful.
- Students receive informative feedback tailored to their responses. Unlike many software programs that only beep when a response is incorrect, Imagine Learning provides explanations when students answer incorrectly, leading them to discover the correct answer. This scaffolding is later withdrawn as the student becomes more independent.
Deliver intensive daily instruction
Exceptional Children published a 1989 article entitled Students’ Time on Learning Tasks in Special Education that highlighted the importance of intensive daily instruction. Students using Imagine Learning English can access the program on a daily basis, ideally for thirty minutes each day. Teachers select a schedule for students that fits their routine, but they do not need to organize, pace, or select lessons because the program automatically does this in response to student performance. This software is intensive, providing one-on-one instruction and supplying immediate and informative feedback when students answer questions.