Sunday, November 06, 2011

Simulating Learning Issues

"He's lazy."

"If only she tried harder."

Have you ever entertained those thoughts about any of your students? Have you ever heard your colleagues use those statements to describe any of their students? Do you realize how difficult it can be for your struggling learners, ON A DAILY BASIS?

If you never struggled as a student, here is an opportunity to experience, even briefly, what school is like for too many of our students. It is vital we have empathy for what our struggling learners experience on a daily basis. has created a set of interactive activities which offer the chance to simulate reading disabilities, writing disabilities or attentional issues. Try it out here

Click on the challenge you would like to experience firsthand

Now, click try it.

How does it feel? Can you imagine what it is like to face this difficulty throughout the school day? 

Next time, you are tempted to think your student on an IEP is lazy, rethink your reaction. Talk with them. Provide the external supports to promote success and ensure you are incorporating universal design for learning  (UDL) principles which will bypass or accommodate for their learning challenges. It's our responsibility as educators if we truly care about all our kids.


T_Sommer said...

These simulations were incredible! I have never experienced something so real and so difficult! It was so frustrating trying to pay attention and not having the ability to do anything about it! I felt so utterly helpless.

This has provided me with a whole new respect and motivation to teach and help out students who have attention difficulties. I will definitely recommend this to others! Thank you!

Stephanie Volpe said...

This was a great tool to realize how difficult reading can be for some students. I think this has to be passed on to those teachers who think certain students are just "lazy." This might just help people realize that learning disabilities are not just a joke. When individuals think that students are just lazy or not paying attention, they lower students self esteem because instead of supporting these students they are just putting them down even more.

Anonymous said...

I'm not a teacher, but my final project for my masters' will cover the education system in the state of Georgia. I really think that this was a fantastic tool that makes us all realize the difficulty of reading for many students young and old. Good job with the information provided.

Janet Abercrombie said...

I never fully understood students' difficulty until I started taking language courses. Because I tested well, I was put in classes that were far above my verbal competency.

Every morning I would get up and say to myself, "Today is the day I'm gonna get it. I will concentrate and concentrate until I understand."

About 20 minutes into the lesson, I'd be drawing on my shoes, doodling - all the things I would never allow my own students to do. I felt dumb.

I was old enough to know that I was smart. What about those young kids who don't have master's degrees and other accomplishments. Do they grow up thinking they're dumb?