Kentucky State University





School of Education

100       plus Important Praxis Review Terms, Concepts, & Theories






Accretion Learning



Acquisition Learning










Americans with Disabilities Act




Section 505





Assessing & Evaluating






Ausubel, David

(Cognitive Development)






Bandura, Albert

(Social Learning)


Bar Graph








Bruner, Jerome












Cognitive Development



Community of








Conventional Spelling













Derivational Spelling



Dewey, John






Echo Reading



Emergent Learning


Emergent Reading


Emergent Spelling





Erikson, Erik






Experimental Learning


Formative Evaluation



Gardner, Howard


Gestalt Theory


Glasser, William


Guided Reading



Guided Writing



Guthrie, Edward










Information Processing

















Lang Experience Approach





Letter Name




Line Graph







Words Most Confused

Grammar Guide


Maslow, Abraham


Mastery Learning







Mnemonic Device














Operant Conditioning





Pavlov, Ivan










Phonological System



Piaget, Jean

(Cognitive Development)



Pie Graph







Praxis Test

Taking Tips





Reading Tables,

Charts, & Graphs













Rogers, Carl








Scatter Plots













Shared Reading


Sight Words


Situated Learning



Skinner, B.F.



Student Centered Classroom












Teacher Centered Classroom


Thorndike, Edward


Trade Books



Transmission Learning


Vygotsky, Lev

(social constructivist)


Watson, John



Whole Language


Whole Word Method






Word Wall



Zone of Proximal Development


Physical Education

Special Education






Accommodation is the ability to deal with a new event by either modifying an existing scheme (e.g., group of acquired information) or the forming of new one’s).     (See Piaget)


Accretion Learning - is the subconscious or subliminal, process by which individuals learn important things like language, prejudices, habits, social rules and behaviors. Accretion is a process where individuals are totally unaware that learning is taking place and accounts for about 70% of what individuals know and understand.


Acquisition Learning - tends to be more relevant to students and it appears to be the conscious choice of how students want to learn. This approach involves self-instruction, experimenting, inquiry, exploring, and general curiosity. Acquisition accounts for about 20% of what students learn.


Affixes - linguistics a form added to the beginning, middle, or end of another word that creates a derivative word or inflection and applied as an attachment to the end or beginning of base or root words.  A generic term that describes prefixes and suffixes word parts "fixed to" either the beginnings of words (prefixes) or the ending of words (suffixes). For example, the word disrespectful  has two affixes, a prefix (dis-) and a suffix (-ful).


Alphabetic Principle - the notion that letters making a word have corresponding sounds, thus letters and sounds can be placed together to build words.


Antonyms - words with opposite meanings, (e.g., big - little; shorttall; blackwhite).


Assimilation the ability to deal with a new event in a way that is consistent with an existing scheme.  When discussing assimilation the term accommodation, it should be acknowledged that you cannot have one without the other.  Accommodation is the process of learning – or adding newly learned knowledge to the present storage of knowledge and information. When the child interacts with the environment, it is common for both assimilation and accommodation to occur. First, the child will try to change the environment by fitting the new information into their mind/brain storage with old knowledge.   (See Piaget)                                                                                         




Back to Top






Ausubel, David – was influenced by Piaget and indicated that learning is based primarily on the types of subordinate processes that occur during the early learning stage. Here, new material is related to relevant ideas in the existing cognitive structure.  Ausubel’s theory is concerned with how individuals learn vast amounts of meaningful material from lecture assignments in a school setting. Verbal learning was seen as the predominant method of classroom learning.  Ausubel believes that discovery learning techniques are often ineffective. He felt that much of school learning is verbal learning (receptive learning) and indicated that individuals tend to forget things because certain details become integrated and lose their importance.  Ausubel's stressed advance organizer which focuses on teaching via a deductive method.  Deductive methods or deductive reasoning provide that the rule should be delineated with a good example to follow which leads to the correct answer or learning. This is contrary to the inductive methods or reasoning introduces an example, followed by the rule.  Ausubel believes that deductive reasoning will allow students to learn the rule, and after structured examples are introduced to support the rules, students will be able to use the rule then the example for optimal learning to occur.


Authentic Assessment - a technique used to examine students’ collective abilities via real-world challenges that require them to apply their relevant skills and knowledge.


Bandura, Albert - found that although environment causes behavior, behavior also causes environment as well. Bandura labeled this concept, reciprocal determinism, implies that the individual’s behavior has a “cause" and “affect” relationship. Bandura is considered a “father” of the cognitive movement, or, observational learning, commonly referred to as the famous, Bobo Doll study. Bandura called this phenomenon, observational learning or modeling, better known as the social learning theory. Bandura’s theory emphasizes the importance of observing and modeling behaviors, attitudes, and emotional reactions of others. Another important concept in social learning theory is self-regulation.  Bandura hypothesized that individuals observe and reflect on their own behavior, judge it against their own criteria, and determine the worth as to whether or not to keep the behavior. To make these judgments, individuals must have standards by which they judge their own performance. Social learning theory concentrates on the relationship, reciprocal, and continuous interaction among cognitive, behavioral, and environmental influences on the learner. Components underlying observational learning include:                                                                                   


                                                                                                                                         Back to Top






Attention - Learning requires attention and anything that hampers attention will decrease learning (such as being sleepy, anxious in testing situations, or feeling bad. Distractions in the environment will also lessen attention to a varying degree, depending on one’s ability to “tune out” distractions.


Retention - Learning requires memory and once something is experienced with the proper amount of attention, it is stored. With the help of either visual, auditory imagery, or language, the model of what was experienced is committed to memory in the form of images or verbal messages. When so stored, it can be retrieved and reproduced based on the quality of the memory.


Reproduction - Learning requires the ability to recall a behavior and the skills to perform the behavior. An individual may watch golf tournaments on TV and learn a lot by seeing how master golfers swing. In this case, remembering how the motions are made would only help to recreate the behavior if the individual knows how to golf in the first place. If the individual can play golf, watching experts may improve his/her skills.


Motivation - Learning requires having a reason for modeling and using a learned behavior. Because it encompasses attention, memory, and motivation, social learning theory spans both cognitive and behavioral frameworks.


Behaviorism - a theory of animal and human learning that focuses on observable behaviors and ignores psychological activities.


Bloom's Taxonomy formulated a classification of "the goals of the educational process." Bloom and a group of educational psychologists developed a taxonomy based on the classification levels of intellectual behavior important to the learning process. The taxonomy included three overlapping domains including, (1) cognitive, (2) psychomotor, and (3) affective.


The cognitive learning domain consisted of six levels: (1) knowledge, (2) comprehension, (3) application, (4) analysis, (5) synthesis, and (6) evaluation. For each level, specific learning behaviors were defined as well as appropriate descriptive verbs that could be used for writing instructional objectives. For example: (1) Knowledge: arrange, define, duplicate, label, list, memorize, name, order, recognize, reproduce, and state. (2.) Comprehension: classify, describe, discuss, explain, express, identify, indicate, locate, recognize, report, restate, review, select, and translate. (3) Application: apply, choose, demonstrate, dramatize, employ, illustrate, interpret, operate, practice, schedule, sketch, solve, use, and write. (4.) Analysis: analyze, appraise, calculate, categorize, compare, contrast, criticize, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, examine, experiment, question, and test. (5) Synthesis: arrange, assemble, collect, compose, construct, create, design, develop, formulate, manage, organize, plan, prepare, propose, set up, and write. And, (6) Evaluation: appraise, argue, assess, attach, choose compare, defend estimate, judge, predict, rate, core, select, support, value, and evaluate.                                    



                                                                                                                                          Back to Top







Bruner, Jerome emphasized how the human thought processes were subdivided into three distinct modes of reasoning.  In contrast, Piaget classified each style to a specific period/stage of development. Although Bruner perceived each mode as distinct and dominant during each developmental stage, be believed that they are present and accessible throughout the developmental process.  Bruner’s model of human development is viewed as a combination of enactive skills (e.g., manipulating objects, spatial awareness), iconic skills (e.g., visual recognition, the ability to compare and contrast) and, symbolic skills (e.g., abstract reasoning).


“Bruner suggested that people remember things with ‘a view towards meaning and signification, not toward the end of somehow ‘preserving’ the facts themselves.”  This view of knowledge – and memory – as a constructed entity is consistent with constructivism, with which Bruner is also closely associated.”   A constant theme in Bruner’s work is that education is a process of discovery.  As a structural theorist, Bruner believes that information or knowledge is more effective when gained by personal discovery, and then classified symbolically.  He further suggested that students should be encouraged to pursue concepts individually by themselves in order to gain a better perspective and fuller understanding.  Within the education system, a teacher would then engage students in active dialogue and guide them when necessary so that students would progressively build their own knowledge base, rather than be ‘taught’.  This is in concert with the philosophy of Vygotsky’s application of scaffolding.  New information would be classified and understood based on knowledge already learned.         




                                                                                                                                                                Back to Top




Choral Reading - two or more individuals reading aloud from the same text in unison to enhance oral reading fluency.


Classical Conditioning suggests that behavior is somewhat controlled by association and illustrated after a neutral stimulus accepts the eliciting properties of an unconditioned stimulus through the pairing of some unconditioned stimulus with the neutral stimulus.


Cognitive Coaching – teaching students to use their own thinking processes to solve problems.


Connectionism – a theory developed by Edward Thorndike. The learning theory that represents the original S-R framework of behavioral psychology suggesting that learning is the result of associations forming between stimuli and responses. These associations or "habits" become strengthened or weakened by the nature and frequency of the S-R pairings.


Cooperative Learning - is an instructional approach that encourages students to work collaboratively as partners or in small groups on clearly defined tasks.


Community of Learners – is a classroom environment that promotes learning via a variety of teaching and learning strategies including, cooperative learning, collaboration, technology, etc.


Constructivism - constructivist theory is a general framework for instruction based upon the study of cognition. Constructivism is based on the belief that children construct meaning from their experiences, and are not just passive receivers of information. Much of the theory is linked to child development research (especially Piaget's). The theory suggest that students reflect on their experiences, and construct an understanding of the world they live governed by their own "rules" to make sense of their experiences.


Conventional Spelling – standard spelling is the correct form for written documents.


Critical thinking is a form of logic which infers that the individual is using cognitive properties to seek, organize, or define meaning. Critical and creative thinking are the two most basic thinking skills. Critical thinking is a matter of thinking clearly and rationally. In contrast, creativity involves the discovery of new and relevant ideas. To be a good and effective thinker, both kinds of thinking skills are needed.


Creativity might be divided into two kinds. One is cognitive creativity that is involved in solving problems. The other is aesthetic creativity relating to artistic creation. This is of course not a sharp distinction, but critical thinking plays a more important role in the former.                                                                                                         



Back to Top



Deductive Reasoning - initiated from the general to the specific, and often referred to as the "top-down" approach. Deductive reasoning tends to be less broad and primarily concerned with testing hypotheses. In contrast, Inductive Reasoning is more open-ended and exploratory, especially during the beginning of the investigation.


Derivational Relations Spelling is common among students ages 11-14. Here, students explore the relationship between spelling and meaning during the derivational relations stage, and learn that words with related meanings are often related in spelling despite changes in vowel and consonant sounds (e.g., wise-wisdom, sign-signal, nation-national). Examples of spelling errors include: CRITISIZE (criticize), APPEARENCE (appearance), and COMMITTE or COMMITEE (committee). The focus in this stage is on morphemes, and students learn about Greek and Latin root words and affixes. They also begin to examine etymologies and the role of history in shaping how words are spelled. They learn about eponyms (words from people’s names), such as maverick and sandwich. The following concepts are learned at this stage of spelling development:



Dewey, John (1859-1952) was very concerned with how the total classroom environment affected learning.  He believed that the curriculum must be designed to engage and enlarge experiences for students in an informal education practice.  Dewey advocated for teacher-student interaction and a nurturing classroom environment to enhance opportunities for learning.          




Back to Top






Digraphs - two letters that represent one speech sound, as EA in BREAD, CH in CHAT, or NG in SING.


Diphthongs - two-vowel combinations where both vowels are heard, but not quite making their usual sounds because of the blending,(e.g., oy in TOY).


Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary List consists of 220 common words identified by Edward W. Dolch in 1936. Although nouns are not included, the list includes prepositions, conjunctions, pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, and common verbs. Sight words include structure words which hold language together, as opposed to content words. These are the most frequently found words in children’s books.  Sight words are usually learned in first, second, and third grade. Pupils who learn these words will usually have a good base for beginning reading.  Many of the words cannot be pronounced or learned phonetically because they do not follow decoding rules, so they must be learned via rote as sight words.  At one time, teachers estimated primary pupil’s reading level by having them identify the 220 Dolch Basic Sight Words. The number of words recognized was the basis for assigning a equivalent reading level.  Pupils who have mastered the 220 word list effortlessly are likely to read at a third grade level.











































































































































































































































































                                                       Gemini Elementary School (





Echo Reading – a strategy where the teacher reads a line or passage with good expression, and calls on students to read it back. This is a good technique to use with Emergent Readers to help them build reading fluency.


Emergence Learning is manifested via structuring, patterning, and constructing meaning, understanding, and ideas that did not exist initially. This process involves insight, reflection, creative expression, and/or group interactions. This method of learning is dependent on intelligence, synthesis, intuition, creativity, and problem-solving skills. Emergence only accounts for 1-2% of what individuals learn in a lifetime.


Emergent Reader - the reader at the beginning stages of learning to read and developing an association of print with meaning. During this stage of reading development, children engage in reading play and retelling familiar stories from memory and using pictures to make predictions.


Emergent Spelling is typical of preschoolers; age’s three to five and involves the stringing and scribbling of letters to form words. Emergent spelling represents a natural, early expression of the alphabet and other concepts about writing. Children may write from left to right, right to left, top to bottom, or randomly across the page. Although students tend to use both upper- and lowercase letters, they tend to prefer using uppercase letters. This is the period when students learn: (1) The distinction between drawing and writing; (2) How to form letters; (3) The direction of writing on a page, and (4)  Some letter-sound matches   (Tompkins, 2002)                       



Back to Top




Erikson, Erik developed the theory of psychosocial development relative to the eight stages of progression toward self-esteem. Erikson's development of identity continues for life and it is never completed.



Age Span




1. Trust vs. Mistrust


Birth to 1 Year


      Need for care and food, responsiveness of the environment. Without a safe, secure environment, infants will learn to mistrust.






2. Autonomy vs. Shame




1 to 3 Years

       The “well – parented” child emerges from this stage sure of himself, elated with his newfound control, and proud rather than ashamed. Two-year-olds are known for their preference for the answer “NO,” regardless. They are learning that they can make decisions for themselves. Caregivers must begin to give options and choices to children, allow them freedom of feeding themselves, and help them learn self-control of toileting skills. Tolerance is important during this period.









3. Initiative vs. Guilt





3 to 6 Years

      This is a time of learning how to assert themselves in socially acceptable ways. Known as the play stage, the developing child learns (1) to imagine, to broaden his skills through active play of all sorts, including pretend; (2) to cooperate with others;

(3) to lead as well as to follow. If he is not successful with the crisis for this stage, he may be immobilized by guilt and he will (1) exhibit fearfulness, (2) not participate in groups,

(3) continue to depend unduly on adults, and (4) be restricted both in the development of play skills and in imagination. Caregivers should allow more freedom but also help them understand limits and rules.












4. Industry vs. Inferiority







6 to 12 years

      This stage is know as the school age stage and extends from about first grade through middle school. Here the child acquires competence and industriousness. He/she learns to master the more formal skills of life such as relating with peers according to rules; progressing from pretend to play that is structured by rules and may demand formal teamwork, such as soccer; and academic studies. Homework is a necessity and the need for self-discipline and self-monitoring increases yearly. The child who, because of his/her successive and successful resolutions of earlier psychosocial crisis, is trusting, autonomous, and full of initiative will learn easily enough to be industrious. However, the mistrusting child will doubt the future. The shame- and guilt-filled child will experience defeat and inferiority. The child should be given responsibilities both at school and at home for which he/she is capable of performing successfully to help build self-confidence and independence.















5. Identity vs. Role Confusion










       Young people at this age are working on determining who they are and who they want to be. They experiment with different personas. They tend to admire risk takers because they have not developed the confidence to step out in front of the crowd. At times, their trials may lead to minor delinquency, trying out drugs or alcohol, or engaging in sexual activity. Erikson believed that during successful early adolescence, the young person acquires self-certainty, as opposed to self-consciousness and self-doubt. He comes to experiment with different, usually constructive, roles rather than becoming a delinquent. He anticipates achievement rather than being paralyzed by feelings of inferiority. In later adolescence, clear sexual identity, manhood or womanhood, is established. The adolescent seeks leadership and leaders, and gradually develops a set of ideals (socially congruent and desirable, in the case of the successful adolescent). Caregivers should provide models and support during this very critical time of development. And tolerance and patience is the by-word.












6. Intimacy vs. Isolation



Early Adulthood

      At this stage, young adults are learning unselfish love, whether with a significant other, a coworker, a child, a student, or others in their environment. They understand the give and take of a loving relationship. Those who do not succeed at intimacy tend to feel isolated and lonely.






7. Generativity vs. Stagnation



Middle Adulthood

      At this stage of development, individuals should be feeling fulfilled in their choices whether it be a productive worker in their career; a supportive and interested parent; or a sharing, loving spouse. Their achievement means fulfillment for them, but it goes beyond so that it will lay the groundwork for the next generation. Those who fail at this stage feel a like of meaningfulness, a lack of membership, a lack of contribution.









8. Integrity vs. Despair





Late Adulthood /Old Age

      If the other seven psychosocial crises have been successfully achieved, the mature adult develops contentment, the peak of adjustment, and integrity. He is independent, trusting of himself and others, and looks forward to new challenges. He has found a well-defined role in life and has developed a self-concept with which he is happy. He can be intimate without shame, guilt, regret, or lack of realism, and he is proud of his creations - his children, his work, and his contributions. If one or more of the earlier psychosocial crises have not been resolved, he may view himself and his life with loneliness and despair, and he is sorrowful over the opportunities that were missed.






            From:  Dr. Jeanne Ellis Ormrod’s textbook, Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (5th Edition)



Back to Top




Etymology - the history or study of words.


Experiential Learning is credited to Carl Rogers who suggested that all human beings have a natural propensity to learn. The role of the teacher is to facilitate learning via: setting a positive classroom climate for learning; clarifying the purposes and rules; organizing and providing learning resources; balancing both intellectual and emotional components of learning; and ensuring that students engage in self-evaluation to assess their progress and success.  (See Carl Rogers)


Equilibration was coined by Piaget to identify a process that regulates tension between assimilation (information) and accommodation (learning). Equilibration implies that individuals learn through experiences somewhat different from previous experiences. Thus, their mental structure is modified in small steps. Individuals learn best when the new incoming information is slightly different from existing information. This process will allow the new information to be assimilated with a small degree of accommodation.


Formative Evaluation is ongoing evaluation during an instructional sequence to allow midstream adaptation and improvement of the project.                                  



Frequently Confused Words:


accept & except

Accept means "to receive." (e.g.,  Please accept my gift.)

Except means "not including."  (e.g., I brought all the gifts except yours.)


advice &  advise

Advice is an "opinion about what should be done." (e.g., The counselor gives good advice.)

Advise means "to recommend."  (e.g., Please advise me on what to do.)


affect & effect

Affect means "to influence."  (e.g., Do not let the loss affect you.)

An effect is "a result."  (e.g., The loss did not have an effect on me.)


all ready & already

All ready means "everything is ready." (e.g., We are all ready to move.)

Already means "previously."  (e.g., We already moved our things yesterday.)


buy & by

Buy means "to purchase."  Please buy me a ticket.

By means "beside". Example: The book is by the table.


choose & chose

Choose means "to select."  (e.g., Today, I will choose you to be on my team.)

Chose is the past tense of choose.  (e.g., Yesterday, I chose you to be on my team.)


complement & compliment

Complement means "to make complete."  (e.g., This hat will complement my new dress.)

A compliment is something said in praise.  (e.g., Thanks for the compliment about my dress.)


emigrate & immigrate

Emigrate means "to leave one country to settle in another."  (e.g., I plan to emigrate from China.)

Immigrate means "to come to live in a new country." (e.g., I plan to immigrate to the Mexico.)


it's & its

It's is the short form of "it is."  (e.g., It's in the house.)

Its is a pronoun that shows ownership or possession.  (e.g., The dog has its own house.)


loose & lose

Loose means "not tight."  (e.g., My pants are not tight, they are too loose.)

Lose means "to be defeated or no longer have." (e.g., I do not want to lose the game.)


miner & minor

A miner is a person who works in a gold or coal mine.  (e.g., My uncle is a coal miner.)

Minor is an adjective that means "unimportant." (e.g., This is not serious, its a minor problem.)
minor also refers to a person who is not yet an adult.  (e.g., It is illegal for a minor to drink alcohol.)


past & passed

Past means "gone by" or "history." (e.g., Fred drove past by my house this morning.)

Looking back in time, my past was very interesting.

Passed is the past tense of pass.  (e.g., We passed the truck earlier.)


principal & principle

A principal is the head of a school.  (e.g., Mr. Greene is the principal of Miller High School.)

A principle is an important fact or law. (e.g., The principle of democracy is important to Canadians.)


Stationary & stationery

Stationary means to be "standing still." (e.g., Please remain stationary.)

Stationery means "writing materials." (e.g., They went to the store to buy some stationery for the office.


than & then

Than means "in comparison with."  (e.g., He is bigger than me.

Then means "next." (e.g., After going home, he then started his assignment.


their & there & they're

Their is a form of "they" that shows ownership.  (e.g., John and Mary put their flowers are on the table.)

There describes where something is.  (e.g., The flowers are there on the table.)

They're is a short form of "they are." (e.g. Bettie and Marilyn said that, they're going to buy flowers later.)


threw & through

Threw is the past tense of throw.  (e.g., He threw the ball over the fence.)

Through means advancing from "end to end." (e.g., We drove through the tunnel.)


to & too & two

To means "in the direction of."  (e.g., Charles went to the store.)

Too means "also."  (e.g., Lloyd said that he is going to the store, too.)

Two is a number.  (e.g., Two of my friends also went to the store.


weather & whether

Weather means "climate conditions outdoors." (e.g., The weather is terrible, it’s just too hot.)

Whether is an expression of choice between two options.  (e.g., I do not know whether I will stay home or go to school.


your & you're

Your is a form of "you" that shows ownership.  (e.g., Carol your house is beautiful.)

You're is a short form of "your are." (e.g., George, you're going to be late for school.)






 Back to Top





Grammar and Writing Guide:


Allegory -- using a specific character or situation in your writing to express a more general truth


Alliteration --  a series of words in a sentence all beginning with the same sound.  (Remember the old tongue-twister "Peter picked a peck of pickled peppers"?)


Analogy -- a comparison showing like parts of two unlike things.  Remember those old tests?  (foot is to person as paw is to cat, for instance)


Anaphora -- several consecutive sentences starting with the same group of words.  (President Bush's speech is a good example: "We will not tire.  We will not falter.  We will not fail."


Antonyms -- opposites (day and night, for instance)


Cliché -- similar to a dead metaphor; an expression that has been widely overused.  (Like saying something cost "an arm and a leg".  Ugh!)


Double Entendre -- a phrase that can be interpreted in two different ways.  Usually one of the meanings is slightly "off color".  (While so common, this is a difficult one to find a good example of--let me know if you have any!)


Euphemism -- a phrase used in place of something disagreeable or upsetting  ("passed on" instead of died)


Homographs -- words that are spelled alike but pronounced differently and/or mean different things (Sahara desert and to desert someone, for instance)


Homonyms -- words that are spelled and pronounced alike but have different meanings (baby; an infant, and baby; to coddle, for instance)


Hyperbole -- deliberate exaggeration (e.g., scared to death)


Metaphor -- this is similar to a simile, but more direct.  One word is used directly in place of another to suggest a relationship between them.  Usually a metaphor says one thing is something else.  (Rachel is a peach, for instance)


Dead Metaphor -- a metaphor that has lost its "force" through overuse.  Most often not even recognized as a metaphor any more (being "over your head", for instance)


Mixed Metaphor -- an inconsistent metaphor ("That's water over the bridge", for instance; a cross of "water under the bridge" and "water over the dam")


Onomatopoeia -- a word that sounds like what it is (hiss, for instance)


Oxymoron -- a phrase composed of two words with contradictory meanings-- "virtual reality," for instance


Personification -- giving living attributes to an inanimate object  (i.e., leaves dancing in the wind)


Simile -- the similarities of two separate things are shown through a comparison using the words like or as.  (lips as red as cherry wine, for instance)


Synonyms -- words with the same meaning (happy and glad, for instance)


Voice -- in writing, how you "sound" on the page.  Your voice is your style, your tone, your unique way of telling a story.


Widows  & Orphans -- In publishing lingo, a "widow" is the last line of a paragraph, printed alone at the top of a page.  An "orphan" is the first line of a paragraph, printed alone at the bottom of a page.  Many word processors offer features to control these in your documents.


Nouns - A noun is a person, place, thing, or idea.  Every sentence must have a noun as its subject. (i.e., The bear sleeps. & Toronto is a city


Proper Nouns - A proper noun is the name of a person, place or thing. Proper nouns should always be capitalized. (i.e.,  Toronto & Mr. Brown & Sally


Common Nouns - A common noun is any noun that is not a proper noun. Common nouns are not capitalized. (i.e., the city & a leader & this woman)

Plural Forms - The plural form of a noun indicates more than one. The plural form is usually formed by adding an s or es.  (i.e.,  one week, two weeks - and, a house, many houses  or  one box, two boxes)


Nouns that end in a consonant followed by a y are made plural by dropping the y and adding  ies.  (e.g., one country, two countries)


Nouns that end in a vowel followed by a y are made plural by adding s(e.g.,  one toy, two toys)


Nouns that end in f or fe drop the f or fe and add ves. (e.g., one leaf, two leaves)

Certain irregular nouns have special plural forms. (e.g., one foot; two feet  &  a mouse, many mice)


Possessive Forms - The possessive form of a noun indicates ownership or modifies another noun.  The possessive form is usually formed by adding 's to the end of a noun.  (e.g.,1.)  the player's equipment; 2.)  the woman's job;  3.)  Canada's government)


Verbs - Verbs are words that are used to express an action. Every sentence must have a verb that shows what the subject is doing or explains what is going on. (e.g., 1. The bear sleeps;  2). Toronto is a city.)


Subject and Verb Agreement - Each verb must agree with the subject in number. Check your sentences carefully to make sure your verbs agree with your nouns. (e.g., 1.)  I study;   2.)  He/She/It studies; 3.) You study & They study)

Incorrect:  We studies at the university

Correct:     We study at the university.


Adverbs are words used to describe actions.  They give additional information about when, how, and where something is happening.  Use adverbs to make your writing more precise and interesting.

She spoke yesterday. (when)
She spoke quickly. (how)
She spoke here. (where)


Some adverbs are used to compare different actions.

I can run fast. She can run faster. He can run the fastest.
I spoke well. She spoke better. He spoke the best.


Adjectives are words used to describe or modify nouns. They give the reader more information about a noun. Use adjectives to make your writing more interesting. (e.g., a good essay; the intelligent student; our hard-working leader)


Some adjectives can be used for comparing different things.  (i.e., Vancouver is cold. 2.) Toronto is colder.  3.) Winnipeg is coldest.)  (e.g., This book is good.  That book is better.  My book is the best.)


Prepositions are used before nouns to give additional information in a sentence. Usually, prepositions are used to show where something is located or when something happened.                  





Back to Top




Gardner, Howard   - Theory of Multiple Intelligences

Howard Gardner (1993) is a modern theorist who suggested that although there may be a general factor of intelligence, it fails to explain individual performance in difference areas. Gardner identified eight areas of distinct ability:


1.      Linguistic Intelligence:  Ability to manipulate language in understanding the rules of grammar. Ability to deal with poetry and prose, be a good negotiator, and have persuasive skills.

2.      Logical-Mathematical Intelligence:  Skills with algorithms, mathematical process, and being able to formulate and solve hypotheses.

3.      Spatial Intelligence:  Having good revisualization skills, being able to take all information, and with an internal visual image solve problems.

4.      Musical Intelligence:  Ability to hear musical relationships internally, learn to read music and play musical instruments, and compose music.

5.      Bodily-Kinesthetic Intelligence:  Being able to understand one’s position in space; have good balance and antigravity skills; and perform tasks, such as sports or dance that requires good coordination.

6.      Interpersonal Intelligence:  Understanding the motives of others, being able to determine others’ moods and desires, and using information about others to be able to influence and persuade.

7.      Intrapersonal Intelligence:  Being aware of one’s self, one’s feelings, interests, abilities, and effectiveness.

8.      Naturalist Intelligence:  Having an understanding of nature and its patterns, such as how seasons change, how nature reacts to severe trauma (forest fires). Applying knowledge to farming or hunting.


When the theory was included in Frames of Mind (2000), Gardner suggested that each individual possesses at least seven types of relatively independent mental abilities. The following chart illustrates the intelligences Gardner asserted that all individuals have. Each individual is able to use these abilities at different levels and in different combinations to create unique styles of learning.


      Intelligence Types

                             Core Operations (strengths)

1.  Linguistic

syntax, phonology, semantics, pragmatics

2.  Musical

pitch, rhythm, timbre

3.  Logical-Mathematical

number, categorization, relations

4.  Spatial

accurate mental visualization, mental transformation of images

5.  Bodily-Kinesthetic

control of one’s own body, control in handling objects

6.  Interpersonal

awareness of others’ feelings, emotions, goals, motivations

7.  Intrapersonal

awareness of one’s own feelings, emotions, goals, motivations

8.  Naturalist

recognition and classification of objects in the environment


                                            From:  Dr. Jeanne Ellis Ormrod’s textbook, Educational Psychology: Developing Learners (5th Edition)


Gardner believed that learning/teaching should focus on the particular intelligences of each person. For example, some individuals may have strong spatial or musical intelligences; therefore, they should be encouraged to develop these abilities. He also pointed out that the different intelligences represent not only different content domains but also learning styles. At present, intelligence tests center on verbal and logical ability based on language skills. Gardner’s belief was that assessment of abilities should measure all forms of intelligence, not just linguistic and logical-mathematical ones. Gardner had three main principles of learning:






             Back to Top






Gestalt theory was founded by Max Wertheimer, Wolfgang Kohler, and Kurt Koffka. The fundamental premise of Gestalt psychology relates to a sense of wholeness. Gestalt theory emphasized a higher-order cognitive process relative to behavior, and endorses the notion of grouping characteristics of stimuli to allow for the interpretation of a problem. The fundamental properties relative to grouping were called the laws of organization and explained in the context of perception and problem solving.   The laws of organization included: (1) proximity - elements tend to be grouped together according to their location, (2) similarity – implying that items which are analogous to some degree tend to be grouped together, and (3) closure – suggesting that items are grouped together if they complete some entity, and simplicity - items will be organized into simple figures according to symmetry, regularity, and smoothness.                                                                                                                                                                       

Glaser, William is credited with the concept control theory – a motivation theory developed by that contends that behavior is never caused by a response to an outside stimulus. Instead, the control theory states that behavior is inspired by what a person wants most at any given time: survival, love, power, freedom, or any other basic need.


Guided Reading is a strategy where experienced readers provide structure via modeling strategies in order to move beginning readers towards independence.


Guided Writing – classroom teacher supports student development with the writing process. Students are required to write sentences or passages while the teacher guides the process and instruction through conferences and minilessons.


Guthrie, E. is credited as the exponent originator. According to Guthrie, all learning was a consequence of association between a particular stimulus and response. Simple contiguous (close together in time or space) association of a stimulus and response can lead to a change in behavior. Thus, the role of motivation is to create a state of arousal and activity that will produce a given response that can now be conditioned. In addition, contiguity theory indicates that forgetting is due in part, to interference rather than the passage of time, as stimuli tends to become associated with new responses and old responses gradually, become unlearned.                                                    

Homographs - words that are spelled alike but have different sounds and meanings (bow and arrow vs. bow of a ship).


Idioms - the use of words peculiar to a particular language with a meaning that differs from typical syntactic patterns or from the literal meaning of its parts taken together. Some examples of idiomatic expressions would include, "John kicked the bucket" means "John passed away," or "chill out" means "relax, don't sweat it."


Information Processing is a theory advanced by George A. Miller who stressed the idea that short-term memory could only hold 5-9 chunks of information (seven plus or minus two). The term chunk represents any meaningful unit (i.e., digits, words, pictures, etc.). The concept of chunking and the limited capacity of short-term memory became a basic element of all subsequent memory theories.


Initial Blends - the joining of two or more consonant sounds, represented by letters that begins a word without losing the identity of the sounds, such as /bl/ in black, the joining of the first consonant and vowel sounds in a word, such as /b/ and /a/ in baby. This skill is important in learning phonics.


Interactive Writing – here, teachers and students compose passages and stories that are written collaboratively. Students are free to print some words or interact with the print as facilitated by teacher (shared pen).


Invented Spelling – a technique used by beginning writers to spell words using whatever knowledge of sounds or visual patterns when formal spelling strategy is not yet learned.


Kohlberg, Lawrence developed the Six Stages of Moral Thought:


  1. Stage 1 children think of what is right as that which authority says is right.  Doing the right thing is obeying authority and avoiding punishment. 
  2. Stage 2 children are no longer so impressed by any single authority. Now they see that there are different sides to any issue.  Since everything is relative, one is free to pursue one's own interests, although it is often useful to make deals and exchange favors with others.
  3. Stage 3 young people think as members of the conventional society with its values, norms, and expectations.  Here, they emphasize being a good person, which basically means having helpful motives toward people they care for.
  4. Stage 4 their concern shifts toward obeying laws to maintain society as a whole.
  5. Stage 5 people are less concerned with maintaining society for it own sake, and more concerned with the principles and values that make for a good society.  They also tend to emphasize basic rights and the democratic processes that give everyone an opportunity to voice their opinions.
  6. Stage 6 they define the principles by which agreement will be most just.




Back to Top



Learning Centers are multi-level stations where activities designed for specific instructional purposes to provide reinforcement, independent practice, and Discovery. In an early childhood program, this is an area that contains materials, such as blocks, pretend household items or art supplies, where children can explore their own interests at their own pace.


Letter Name Spelling is common to students five to seven years of age. Here, students learn to represent phonemes in words with letters. This shows that they have a rudimentary understanding of the alphabetic principle - suggesting that a link exists between letters and sounds.


Language Experience Approach (LEA) - a method of teaching reading by using the reader's own dictated language. This approach allows the reader to read words common to their environment.


Literature Circles are important to the cooperative reading process. Tompkins (2002) endorsed four components of literature circles including: reading, responding, creating projects, and sharing.


Mastery Learning - proposes that all children can learn when provided with the appropriate learning conditions in the classroom.


Metacognition involves several important elements including, designing, monitoring, and assessing a specific plan of action. Steps students should take to enhance metacognition: (1) identify how much they know about a specific topic to consider for developing a project, (2) have an idea of exactly how much time they want to devote to the project, (3) have an idea of when the project is expected to be completed, (4) monitor their progress by reviewing their work relative to the project, and (5) assess their performance and/or satisfaction with the project or assignment. During this phase of the project, students should ask themselves, “am I satisfied?" or, "can I do a better job?" - "if so, how?” In short, metacognition is simply the process of "thinking about thinking." In fact, good readers use metacognition before they read anything in order to help them clarify their purpose for reading and to preview the text.             



 Back to Top



Minilessons are associated to direct instruction and skill-and-drill activities. Here, teachers use direct instruction during the mini-lesson to teach about reading and writing procedures, skills, and strategies. The second kind of teaching is indirect teaching. Here, teachers use indirect teaching for brief, on-the-spot mini-lesson as they respond to students’ questions or assist students who need specific help. Mini-lesson takes place during whole-class activities, conferences with students, or working with small groups. Teachers may also do indirect teaching as they model reading when reading aloud to the class, and as they model writing during collaborative writing exercises. (Tompkins, 2002)


Mnemonic Device – is used as an aid in helping students to remember material.


Morphemes are word forms and another component of syntax. Morphemes are also the smallest meaningful units in language and word parts that could also change the meaning of a word.


Multiple Intelligences - (See Gardner, Howard)


Maslow, Abraham developed the humanistic theory which is based on the inner drive to excel.  Maslow expressed this inner drive through his definition of Self-Actualization from his a hierarchy of needs theory. He wrote that human beings are motivated by unsatisfied needs and that certain lower needs must be satisfied before higher order needs can be approached for satisfaction. Rather than approaching motivation from a deficit model, such as Freud and Skinner did, Maslow believed that individuals should be studied from the vantage point of their more positive natures. He grouped needs into a hierarchical order of urgency and believed that the needs must be satisfied before an individual can look beyond himself/herself to the welfare of others. He believed that as long as individuals are motivated to satisfy their needs, they are moving toward growth and self-actualization. Attempting to block gratification stifles growth and can be detrimental to the health and well-being of the individual.  The following includes a brief description for each of the levels of need in ascending order to self-actualization:


  1. Physiological/biological needs are the most demanding. Only after hunger, thirst, and the need for shelter have been satisfied, do the needs at the next higher level emerge.
  2. Safety needs include security, protection from physical and emotional harm, and the desire for good health.
  3. Need for family and friends in the individual and the feeling of acceptance and friendship in relations with others.
  4. Need for esteem follows and moves the individual to their first internal demand for self respect, autonomy, achievement along with status, recognition, and attention.
  5. Self-actualization assumes that lower needs have been satisfied; personal motivation is re-directed towards developing one's potential, to "become" what you are capable of achieving in life.                                                                





Back to Top





Onomatopoeia - the terms used to describe words whose pronunciations suggest their meaning (e.g., meow, buzz, zoom).


Operant Conditioning – coined by B.F. Skinner, is based upon the premise that learning is a function of change in overt behavior. The change in behavior is a result of the student’s response to events (stimuli) occurring in their environment. A response produces a consequence such as, learning to behave. When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond.

Skinner examined how learning was affected by stimuli presented after an act was performed. He discovered that certain stimuli caused the organism to repeat an act more frequently. Today, classroom teachers are the recipients of this discovery; and use reinforcement as a means of controlling and motivating student behavior.  Behavior modification" is a technique teachers’ use in improving the learning and classroom behavior of students via a system of rewards and punishments. 





Back to Top



Orthography - the study of the nature and use of symbols in a writing system; correct or standardized spelling according to established usage in a given language.


Parts of Speech Exercise:

Here's a little rhyme — by David B. Tower & Benjamin F. Tweed —that teachers used in days gone by to help students learn the parts of speech. (We include it here in response to popular demand. Why the song leaves out pronouns is a mystery. A writer from Richland, Washington, suggests "A PRONOUN replaces any noun: / he, she, it, and you are found).  It has been set to music, but we'll leave that up to you to discover or create for yourself:


Three little words you often see
ARTICLES: a, an, and the.

NOUN's the name of anything,
As: school or garden, toy, or swing.

ADJECTIVES tell the kind of noun,
As: great, small, pretty, white, or brown.

VERBS tell of something being done:
To read, write, count, sing, jump, or run.

How things are done the
As: slowly, quickly, badly, well.

CONJUNCTIONS join the words together,
As: men and women, wind or weather.

PREPOSITION stands before
A noun as: in or through a door.

INTERJECTION shows surprise
As: Oh, how pretty! Ah! how wise!

The whole are called the
Which reading, writing, speaking teach.





                                                                                                                                    Back to Top






Pavlov, Ivan P. (1849-1936) discovered "conditioning" and initially believed that all behavior was reflexive. Pavlov thought that all learning, whether the elicited responses in animals, or of highly conceptual behaviors in humans was due to the mechanisms of classical conditioning. We now believe theory to be wrong.  Classic Conditioning implies that there are stimulus --> response relationships that occur in nature. Pavlov called these naturally occurring events unconditioned stimuli (UCS) and unconditioned responses (UCR).


When neutral stimuli and unconditioned stimuli are exposed frequently, they become associated; thus, causing the neutral stimulus to signal or clue that the unconditioned stimulus is coming next. After several pairings, the neutral stimulus becomes a conditioned stimulus (CS) that elicits a behavior called the conditioned response (CR).


Pavlov gained world-wide acclaim for his research with dogs when he discovered that when hungry dogs saw food they tended to salivate. He indicated that this behavior is an unconscious, uncontrolled, and unlearned response. Thus, food is now an unconditioned stimulus and salivation is an unconditioned response. Therefore, both food and salivation are naturally connected. In addition, this behavior did not have to be learned because it was already present. In short, this is referred to as learning by association or contiguity.

Pavlov took the experiment further when he began ringing a bell as food was given to the dog. Over time, the dog associated the sound of the bell with food. Therefore, the bell developed the capacity to elicit the same salivation response as the food did initially. This is known as
Classic Conditioning. Pavlov began his investigation with two variables that were already connected (food and salivation). When he added a third component (bell), the bell became so strongly associated with food that it was able to produce the same behavior in the dog (salivation).

Food = Unconditioned Stimulus

Salivation = Unconditioned Response - (Natural and not learned)

Bell = Conditioned Stimulus

Salivation = Conditioned Response (Bell)              



                                                                                                                           Back to Top


Phoneme - A minimal sound unit of speech that, when contrasted with another phoneme, affects the naming of words in a language, such as /b/ in book contrasts with /r/ in rook, /l/ in look.  Phonemes are the smallest units of sound that change the meanings of spoken words. For example, if you change the first phoneme in cat from /c/ to /f/, the word bat changes to fat. The English language has about 41-44 phonemes. A few words, such as a or oh, have only one phoneme. Most words have more than one phoneme.  The word “if ” has two phonemes /i/ and /f/.


Phonics - teaching reading and spelling that stresses basic symbol-sound relationships and their application in decoding words in beginning instruction.


Phonological System is important in both oral and written language. There are 26 letters and 44 sounds and many ways to combine the letters - particularly the vowels–to spell many of the sounds. Sounds are called phonemes, and represented in print, and


Graphemes are letter combinations.                                                                


Phonogram - a succession of letters representing the same phonological unit in different words, such as ed in red, bed, fed. or, IGHT in FLIGHT, MIGHT and TIGHT.


Piaget, Jean (1896-1980) - a Swiss biologist and psychologist constructed a model of child development and learning based on the idea that the developing child builds cognitive structures or mental maps, “schemes,” or networked concepts for understanding and responding to physical experiences within their environment. The child's cognitive structure advances in sophistication with development and grows from a few innate reflexes such as crying to highly complex mental activities.


Jean Piaget discovered that children, unconsciously held thought processes that represent their own individual order with their personal special logic.  He theorized that cognitive development is a continuous process that varies in rate based on individual differences in children and progressed through a similar orderly series (e.g., In order to build a block tower four blocks high, requires that the 4th block cannot be completed until the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd blocks are in place).  Therefore, cognitive development is based on a sequential ordering process. Piaget found that even children with disabilities and developmental delays learned via sequential ordering. Important concepts include schemes, assimilation, accommodation and equilibration. 



Accommodation is the ability to deal with a new event by either modifying an existing scheme or forming a new one.  A scheme is group of acquired information.


Assimilation the ability to deal with a new event in a way that is consistent with an existing scheme.


Disequilibrium implies the inability to explain new events by using existing schemes.


There are qualitative changes that mark the development of children’s cognitive abilities. Piaget described the principle of equilibrium as one of the mechanisms that facilitates change. With organization of and adaptation to new learning experiences, the child achieves stability, or equilibrium. Piaget believed that learning occurs through the process of disequilibrium. This occurs when there is a mismatch between what a child knows and what he/she perceives in the environment. For example, a child may have learned that something you can ride in that has 4 wheels and a motor is a car. When the parent points to such an object and labels it truck, the child is confused.  The child’s present knowledge is that such a vehicle is a car. The child has not learned what a truck is; therefore, a state of confusion, or disequilibrium, exists. Piaget felt that this confusion was a point of learning for the child in that it takes this disequilibrium for new learning to be brought into the child’s knowledge base.


As children grow/develop, they add new experiences to their knowledge base. When this happens, children must modify what they already know by adding the new information they have just gained, thus increasing learning. Piaget labeled this process as schemata.


In interacting with the environment, Piaget described two processes – assimilation and accommodation. Assimilation occurs when the child interprets new experiences only in terms of schemata already known. For instance, a child may know that things that fly are called birds. Thus, when the child sees a plane, he/she will think bird in the present state of stored knowledge.  Schemata – symbolizes a data structure for representing the generic concepts stored in memory. There are three types of schemata’s: content, language, and textual.  (1) Content Schemata - includes systems of factual knowledge, values, and cultural conventions; (2) Language Schemata - includes sentence structure, grammatical inflections, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and cohesive structures, and (3) Textual Schemata - includes the rhetorical structure of different modes of text, (e.g., recipes, fairy tales, research papers, and science textbooks).


Accommodation occurs when the child’s schemata are modified from believing that everything that flies is a bird to adding information so that they are now aware that many things that fly are called planes. Accommodation is the addition of knowledge to the present store of knowledge. When the child interacts with the environment, it is common for both assimilation and accommodation occur. First, the child will try to change the environment by fitting the new occurrence into her/his store of knowledge. Then with disequilibrium and new perceptions, the child develops a new understanding and conforms to reality.


Piaget experiments with his own children, Lucienne, Laurent, and Jacqueline led to the development of his "Stages of Cognitive Development." The stages of intellectual growth include, (1) sensori-motor stage from birth to age two, (2) preoperational period from ages two to seven, (3) concrete operational stage, ages 7 to 11, and  (4)   formaloperationalstage, ages 11 to adulthood.


During the sensori-motor stage of development (birth to age two), infants reacts to each object within their environment solely on the basis of its physical characteristics, and not its symbolic meaning. Initially during this period, the infant relies on reflexes which gradually move to the use and mastery of body movements and voice (crying) to communicate and obtain what they need. Eventually, the conception of "self" is developed as the child learn that they are a complete entity existing solely detached from objects within their environment. According to Cooley (1902), this is realized when the child associate the pronouns of the first person singular, "I," "Me," "mine," and Myself," to themselves. Until they begin using first person in reference to themselves, they have not yet established self awareness.


By now, the child can imagine that they are playing with a toy and now they are able to carry out this act by actually playing with the toy via manipulation. They now discover that when objects are not in view that the objects have not simply vanished. This period culminates with the acquisition of language and using simple sentences to communicate, rather than the primitive means of communicating through reflex body movement and crying.


The preoperational period (age’s two to seven) is manifested by rapid growth and development. The child's growth is accelerated through their ability to use their language mastery to communicate, experiment, and learn. However, the preoperational child is limited in his ability to think and to conceptualize because of his lack of exposure and maturity. Here, children's perceptions and confusion are based solely on their exposure to their immediate environment consisting of what they tend to observe and what they hear. Children are unable to explain why or how things which are the same in volume appear to change through manipulation or rearrangement. The placing of five block in a straight row with the blocks touching each other is different to the child when confronted with another five blocks in a straight row with spaces in between the blocks because, "they are different because this row is longer."


This is also the egocentric language stage where they say things without taking into account how much the listener knows or not about a subject.  This stage is also characterized by the child's inability to engage in multiple-categorizations. During this period, children are not yet mature enough to conceptualize more than one property at a time (e.g., size, color, shape, etc.).  Objects are either, big and little or, short and tall. A grape is tiny, purple, and sweet but not necessarily little, green, and sour. Therefore, the child is able to deal with objects on an individual basis, but unable to group objects. When asked the question, "Grapes are considered fruit, if we eat up all the grapes in the world, will there be any fruit left in the world?” The preoperational child will answer no! Although the child will develop much better reasoning and conceptualization skills, they non-the-less are still functioning in the here and now perspective.


The concrete operational period (age’s seven to 11) is characterized by children who are growing from an egocentric perspective to a social being. They are now becoming more intellectual as they are able to master problems relative to reversibility, ordering objects by groups, size, number, and even classification. Here, the child is able to think about other perspectives simultaneously and solve problems in their minds. In addition, concrete operational children have the ability to relate to both time and space. If asked a question, "Look at this box of blue pencils, are there more blue pencils or wooden pencils?" The preoperational child is likely to answer, blue ones!  In contrast, children at the concrete operational stage will answer the question correctly. Another example is, "If all the birds in the sky die, will there be any turkeys left?"  The Preoperational child will answer, “No!”


The formal operational (ages 11 and on) stage marks the culmination of Piaget's Stages of Cognitive Development. This period is represented by the child's ability to engage in hypothetical reasoning which includes both abstract and logical thinking and problem solving abilities. During this period, the child thinks about the ideal, as opposed to what is real and concrete. The child is also capable of identifying reasoning, explaining, and defending his position. The child is now thinking about his future in terms of what it would be like to be a surgeon, teacher, artist, etc.                                               



Back to Top




Portfolio Assessment - provides a body of the student’s work--essentially, a portfolio--that can be used to evaluate student performance over a period of time.


Pre-writing - the initial creative stage of writing, prior to drafting, in which the writer formulates ideas, gathers information, organizes or plans.


Reading Workshops are designed to encourage students to read self-selected books independently or in small groups. Afterwards, students are expected to respond to the books by writing in their reading logs and discussing the book in small groups to other students who are also reading the same book. This approach helps students to become fluent readers and to deepen their appreciation of books and reading.


Reflective Teaching involves the ability to: research & explore, question & analyze, and make changes to both lessons and curriculum based on learning results experienced in the classroom.


Rime - the part of a syllable (not a word) consisting of its vowel and any consonant sounds that come after it, the first vowel in a word along with all of the sounds that follow, for example, /-utterfly/ in “butterfly.”


Rogers, Carl – founded the non-directive, (e.g., client-centered, person-centered), approach to psychotherapy, which emphasizes a person-to-person relationship between the therapist and the client. The therapist must provide a non-threatening environment, with attention directed toward the counseling sessions and the duration of treatment.  The non-directive approach or person-centered psychotherapy,   an approach to the treatment of mental disorders that aims primarily toward fostering personality growth by helping individuals gain insight into and acceptance of their feelings, values, and behavior regardless of the severity. The role of the therapist is to extend consistent, warm and total unconditional positive regard and support toward clients (e.g., patients, students, etc.).  The therapist must avoid using negative connotations and remain non-judgmental toward clients during therapy sessions.


In addition to his influence on counseling, Rogers made significant contribution to the field of education.  Here, Rogers distinguished two types of learning: (1) cognitive (academic knowledge such as psychology or multiplication tables) and (2) experiential (applied knowledge such as learning about engines in order to repair a car).  His best selling book, Freedom to Learn (1969) pointed out that experiential learning addresses the needs and wants of the learner and is equivalent to personal change and growth.

Rogers believed that all human beings have a natural propensity to learn; the role of the teacher is to facilitate such learning which includes:


  1. Setting a positive climate for learning
  2. Clarifying the purposes of the learner(s)
  3. Organizing and making available learning resources
  4. Balancing intellectual and emotional components of learning, and
  5. Sharing feelings and thoughts with learners but not dominating.

If the aforementioned pointed are effectively implemented, learning is facilitated when:


1.                  The student participates completely in the learning process and has control over its nature and direction

2.                  It is primarily based upon direct confrontation with practical, social, personal or research problems

3.                  Self-evaluation is the principal method of assessing progress or success.


Rogers also emphasizes the importance of learning to learn and an openness to change.
Roger's theory of learning originates from his views about psychotherapy and
humanistic approach to psychology. It applies primarily to adult learners and has influenced other theories of adult learning.


  1. Significant learning takes place when the subject matter is relevant to the personal interests of the student
  2.  Learning which is threatening to the self (e.g., new attitudes or perspectives) are more easily assimilated when external threats are at a minimum
  3.  Learning proceeds faster when the threat to the self is low

      Self-initiated learning is the most lasting and pervasive






Back to Top




Round-robin Reading - an outdated reading strategy that attempts to teach students to read by having them follow other students in reading specific passages of text identified by the teacher. This technique is not recommended because it hampers reading fluency, its boring, and it causes students to lose interest in the story.


Rubric - a set of scoring guidelines for assessing student work including a summary listing of the criteria that distinguish high quality work from low quality assignments.


Scaffolding - is a metaphoric term used by Vygotsky to show how parents and teachers provide temporary assistance to children/students by modeling appropriate behavior or skills. In the classroom, teachers model or demonstrate specific strategies and gradually shift the responsibility to the student to demonstrate.


Schemata - a data structure for representing the generic concepts stored in memory. There are three types of schemata’s, content, language, and textual:  (1) Content Schemata - includes systems of factual knowledge, values, and cultural conventions; (2) Language Schemata - includes sentence structure, grammatical inflections, spelling, punctuation, vocabulary, and cohesive structures, and (3) Textual Schemata - includes the rhetorical structure of different modes of text, (e.g., recipes, fairy tales, research papers, and science textbooks).


Semantics - the study of the meaning in language and the analysis of the meanings of words, phrases, sentences.


Shared Reading is an activity in where the teacher and students sit together around a Big Book so that all can see the print and pictures. Individual students are selected to point to print and the other students join in and reading at their own level of expertise. Sometimes, the teacher reads a passage while pointing to the words to help young readers learn to read.


Sight Word - easily recognized words that requires no word analysis for identification or pronunciation.  The Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary List contains 220 such words (e.g., it, is, do, go, an, all, in, me, my, on, do, be, any, eat, get, new, about, etc.)


Situated Learning was coined by Lave. Basically, situated learning is a general theory of knowledge acquisition that is manifested as a function of the specific activity, context or culture in which it occurs. This contrasts with most classroom learning activities which involve knowledge that's usually abstract and out of context. Learning requires social interaction and collaboration within an authentic context, i.e., settings and applications that would normally involve that knowledge.                                   




 Back to Top                                                   


Skinner, Burrhus Frederic (B.F.) (1904-1990) is hailed as the greatest behavioral psychologist and the father of operant conditioning. Skinner was strongly influenced by the work of John B. Watson and believed that psychologists should study both predicting and controlling behavior. Skinner investigated the stimuli that control behavior. Afterwards, he became impressed with reinforcements and its effects of behavior.  Skinner theorized that learning was a function of change in overt behavior; and changes in behavior are the result of the individual's response to events (stimuli) that occur in the environment. A given response tended to produce a consequence such as “describing an event,” “doing physical exercise,” or “solving a problem on an exam.” When a particular Stimulus-Response (S-R) pattern is reinforced (rewarded), the individual is conditioned to respond.

Skinner developed a box to study how animals (rats and pigeons) learned. The Skinner Box was designed with two levers to trigger different kinds of stimuli - lights, or electric shocks - or food, or water. Since Skinner was a strict behaviorist and believed that all behaviors were based on the result of conditioning from either rewards or punishment. He is responsible for making the distinction between classical (Pavlovian) conditioning and operant conditioning.

Classical conditioning is called type s (stimulus) and operant conditioning is called type r (response); and reinforcers served to shape the response characteristics. He concluded that behavior is shaped by complex patterns of reinforcement in a person’s environment, a process that he called operant conditioning. Reinforcement is the key element in Skinner's S-R theory. A reinforcer is anything that strengthens the desired response, including food or privileges. In contrast, negative reinforces include any stimulus that results in the increased frequency of a response when it is withdrawn which is different from aversive stimuli punishment.

Skinner modified Thorndike’s theory and made some important changes:

1. He changed the learning environment. In Thorndike’s box, the cat only had an opportunity to learn when the experimenter put it in the learning environment. In other words, the experimenter controlled the cat's opportunities for learning. Skinner created an operant conditioning chamber (other researchers called this apparatus a
Skinner Box).  The animal could remain in the chamber and have unlimited opportunities to learn. An example was a rat cage with food, water, an exercise wheel, etc., but it also contained a lever that the rat could press repeatedly to get more food.

2. Skinner boxes (operant conditioning apparatuses) helped him discover a term he called,
shaping. Obviously, the rat doesn’t know that pressing the lever will get more food – so it has to be rewarded for successively closer approximations of the desired response. In other words, the experimenter gives a food pellet to the rat only if it is close to the lever, then only if it stands on its’ hind legs next to the lever, then only if it touches the lever......until the rat presses the lever by itself.  This process suggests learning.

3. Skinner also used
schedules of reinforcement, where rather than giving a reinforcement (e.g., a food pellet) after every response (e.g., a lever press), Skinner fixed the operant conditioning chamber to give a reinforcement only after 2 or 3 responses. This is a partial reinforcement schedule.  Learning with a partial reinforcement schedule is more resistant to extinction, implying that learning is retained longer.

Ratio & Interval reinforcement schedules. Ratio schedules give reinforcement after x number of responses. The ratio of responses to reinforcement can be either fixed or variable.  A fixed ratio schedule gives reinforcement after every (5) responses, for example:  a variable ratio schedule gives reinforcement ‘on the average’ every (5) trials – sometimes the reinforcement comes after 2 responses, then after 7 responses, then 6 responses, etc. , so that reinforcement occurs on the average after every 5 responses.
Interval schedules give reinforcement after a time interval.  A fixed interval schedule gives reinforcement every (5) minutes. A variable interval schedule gives reinforcement ‘on the average’ every five minutes - sometimes the reinforcement comes after 2 minutes, then after 7 minutes, then 6 minutes, etc.


5. Types of reinforcement are positive reinforcement, negative reinforcement, and punishment.


Secondary reinforcement – suggest that some reinforcers are only signals that a positive reinforcement is on the way.  For example, Skinner fixed an operant conditioning chamber to give food pellets when the rat pressed a lever but only if a signal light was on. When the light was off, the rat could not get food by pressing the lever. Next, Skinner trained the rat to do something else to turn on the light. For example, running in the exercise wheel will turn on the the rat learned to run in the wheel, and then press the lever whenever it wanted to eat.                                                              




Back to Top



Assessing and Evaluating Student Performance:

Achievement Tests used to measure what the student retained in the curriculum. To obtain an estimate of current academic levels in specific academic areas. They are also used to compare an individual student’s academic achievement level with the national norm or expectation of average performance. Individual academic achievement tests usually include a variety of basic academic skill areas such as:

Reading decoding
• Reading comprehension
• Math calculation
• Math reasoning
• Spelling
• Written language

Commonly Used Achievement Tests
Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement-III
• Peabody Individual Achievement Test-R
• Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement -II
• Wechsler Individual Achievement Test-II
• Wide Range Achievement Test-R

Adaptive Behavior Tests
Instruments that assess a student’s ability to adapt to the world in different situations.

Aptitude Tests
Tests designed to measure strength, talent, or ability in a particular area or domain.


Classroom Behavior Checklist
Various scales, checklists, and inventories are used to observe and evaluate classroom behavioral problems.


Commonly Used Behavior Scales and Checklists
• Camelot Behavioral Checklist

Conner’s Rating Scales-Revised

• Interpersonal Behavior Survey

• Scales of Independent Behavior (SIB)

• Vanderbilt AD/HD Diagnostic Teacher Rating Scale


Curriculum-Based Assessment
To determine how student is performing using actual content of curriculum such as chapter tests or teacher made tests


Curriculum-Based Measurement
Specific techniques to measure progress of a specific skill against an aim line

Criterion-referenced Tests
To assess a student's progress in skill mastery against specific standards.

Criterion-related Tests

To assess student's progress on items that are similar to objectives or standards

Diagnostic Tests
Individually administered tests that determine specific academic problems.

Ecological Assessment
Evaluation of classroom variables to determine possible classroom environmental influences of learning or behavior


Norm-Referenced Tests

Norm-referenced tests are tests developed to establish the average or typical performance of students within specific age or grade groups.  Norm-referenced tests are often administered when it is necessary to determine if the student’s ability or skill level is significantly above or below age or grade peers. For example, these tests are used to assess students who may be within the gifted range of intellectual ability or who may have significant cognitive challenges.                           



Portfolio Assessment

This is a procedure that involves using a variety of student products such as: written assignments, presentations, class reports, exams, practicum experiences, etc., to assess and evaluate progress made over a period of time.                                            


  Back to Top


Praxis Test Taking Tips


Physiological Preparation:

·        Do not eat a heavy meal before taking the Praxis

·        Do not smoke before taking the Praxis

·        Do not drink alcohol before taking the Praxis

·        Exercise regularly during the week you plan to take the Praxis

·        Eat natural carbohydrates before taking the Praxis

·        Get at least 8 hours of sleep nightly

·        Try to wake up at least 2 hours before the exam

·        Sit up straight and do not "hunch" or “slouch” while taking the Exam

·        Study daily and be prepared for the exam

·        Be Relaxed and do not panic


Taking the Praxis:

·        Read all questions very carefully

·        Have a positive outlook

·        Do not change your first response, unless you know for sure you are correct

·        Understand the type of test you are taking

·        Start with the section that you know the best

·        On an essay test write outlines

·        Write in simple sentences on an essay test


Study Preparation:

·        Attend all Praxis Workshops offered by the Testing Center – CPCP

·        Visit the KSU Praxis Preparation Review Site

·        Review the 100 + Praxis Terms, Concepts, and Theories

·        Review the Praxis Notes located on the Review Website

·        Study the test by sections

·        Do not study or worry about minuscule details

·        Look at information as a body of knowledge

·        Do not study chronological order

·        Review the test content categories

·        Join a study group and practice with peers

·        Avoid cramming for the exam

·        Review the Test at a Glance (TAG) Booklets offered by ETS


Multiple Choice Test Tips:

·        Follow the directions carefully

·        Pace your work but work at a moderate speed

·        Read every item carefully

·        Determine the "best" answer and select an answer for every question

·        Guess wisely and do not leave any question “blank”

·        Mark your answers carefully and check the accuracy of your work

·        Have a strategy for handling the reading passages

·        Know how to make abstract situations concrete                                





 Back to Top





Screening Tests

Brief tests and instruments that sample a few items across various skills or domains.

Self-Perception Scales

Instruments to assess students self-concept or self-esteem. 


Commonly Used Self-Perception Scales

·         Coopersmith Self-Concept Test

·         Piers-Harris Children’s Self-Concept Scale

·         The Tennessee Self Concept Scale (TSCS)


Special Education:

·              Adaptive skills - Skills needed to adapt to one's living environment (communication, self-care, home living, social skills, community use, self-direction, health and safety, functional academics, leisure, and work.) and is usually estimated by an adaptive behavior survey.

·              Continuum of alternative placements - The full range of alternative placements, from those assumed to be least restrictive to those considered most restrictive. It ranges from regular classrooms in neighborhood schools to resource rooms, self-contained classes.  special day schools, residential schools, hospital schools, and home instruction.

·              Full Inclusion – Special class placement in a regular classroom for most or all of the school day

·              Mainstreaming - The placement of students with disabilities in general education classes for all or part of the day and for all or only a few classes.

·              Least Restrictive Environment (LEA) - Students with disabilities must be educated in as normal an environment as possible.

·              Research Design - Scientific Method - 1. Define the problem; 2. Find out what is already known about the problem; 3. Form an hypothesis 4. Conduct an experiment to test the hypotheses;  and 5. Use the results to reach a conclusion.



Special Education Laws (Legislation)  IDEA Milestones: 1975-2005




Passed/Changed Date

Education of All Handicapped Children 

P.L. 94-142

Nov. 29, 1975

Attorney fee provisions put in law the 

P.L. 99-372

               Aug. 1986

Part H (now Part C) established

P.L. 99-457

Oct. 8, 1990

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA)

P.L. 101-476

Oct. 30, 1990

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA '97)

P.L. 105-17

June, 1997

IDEA Improvement Act of 2004, amended IDEA  


Dec. 3, 2004









Comparison of IDEA, Section 504 and the ADA




Section 504



To provide a free, appropriate, public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment

To provide people with disabilities, to the maximum extent possible, the opportunity to be fully integrated into mainstream American life.

To provide all people with disabilities broader coverage than Section 504 in all aspects of discrimination law


Applies to public schools

Applies to any program or activity that receives federal financial assistance.

Applies to public or private employment, transportation, accommodations, and telecommunications regardless of whether federal funding is received.


Only those students age 3-21 who need special education and related services because of their disability.

All qualified people with disabilities regardless of whether special education services are required in public elementary, second-dary or postsecondary settings.

All qualified people with disabilities, and qualified non-disabled related to or associated with a person with a disability.

Disability Defined

A listing of disabilities is provided in the act, including specific learning disabilities.

No listing of disabilities is provided, but criteria including having any physical or mental impair-ment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, having a record of such impairment, or being regarded as having such an impairment.

No listing of disabilities provided. Same criteria as Section 504.

Identification Process

Responsibility of school District to identify through "Child Find" and evaluate at no expense to parent or individual.

Responsibility of individual with disability to self-iden-tify and provide documentation. Cost of evaluation must be assumed by the individual, not the institution.

Same as Section 504

Service Delivery

Special education services and auxiliary aids must be stipulated in the Individual Education Plan.

Services, auxiliary aids, and academic adjustments may be provided in the regular education setting, arranged for by special education coordinator or disabled student services provider.

Services, auxiliary aids, and accommodations arranged for by the designated ADA coordinator;  accommo-dations must not pose an undue hardship to employers.


Federal funds are conditional on compliance with IDEA regulations.

No authorization for funding is attached to this civil rights statute.

Same as Section 504.

Enforcement Agency

Office of Special Education and Rehabilitative Services in the U.S. Department of Education.

Office of Civil Rights in the U.S. Department of Education.

With the U.S. Department of Justice, in conjunction with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission  and Federal Communications Commission. May overlap with OCR.


Reimbursement by district of school related expenses is available to parents of children with disabilities to ensure FAPE.

A private individual can sue a recipient of federal financial assistance to ensure compliance with Section 504. Attorney fees and costs may be ordered.

Same as Section 504 with monetary damages for some violations. Attorney fees and litigation expenses are also recoverable.










Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 (ADA), the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), and Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 represent three attempts to improve the living conditions of those with disabilities.


Laws and purpose





A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination solely on the basis of disability in employ-ment, public services, and accommodations.

An education act to provide federal financial assistance to State and local education agencies to guarantee special education and related services to eligible children with disabilities.

A civil rights law to prohibit discrimination on the basis of disability in programs and activities, public and private, that receive federal financial assistance.



Who is protected?





Any individual with a disability who: (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more life activities; or (2) has a record of such impairment; or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.  Further, the person must be qualified for the program, service, or job.

Children ages 3-21 who are determined by a multidisci-plinary team to be eligible within one or more of 13 specific disability categories and who need special education and related services.  Categories include autism, deafness, deaf-blindness, hearing impairments, mental retardation, multiple dis-abilities, orthopedic impair-ments, other health impair-ments, serious emotional disturbance, specific learning disabilities, speech or language impairments, traumatic brain injury, and visual impairments

Any person who (1) has a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, (2) has a record of such an impairment or (3) is regarded as having such an impairment.  Major life activities include walking, seeing, hearing, speaking, breathing, learning, working, caring for oneself, and performing manual tasks.



Provides for a free, appropriate public education (FAPE)





Not directly.  However, (1) ADA protections apply to nonsectarian private schools, but not to organization or private schools, or entities controlled by religious organization; (2) ADA provided additional protection in combination with actions brought under Section 504.  Reasonable accommodations are required for eligible students with a disability to perform essential functions of the job.  This applies to any part of the special education program that may be community-based and involve job training/placement.

Yes.  A FAPE is defined to mean special education and related services.  Special education means "specially designed instruction at no cost to the parents, to meet the unique needs of the child with a disability..."  Related services are provided if students, require them in order to benefit from specially designed instruction.  States are required to ensure the provision of "full educational opportunity" to all children with disabilities.  IDEA requires the development of an Individualized Education Program (IEP) document with specific content and a required number of participants at an IEP meeting.

Yes.  An "appropriate" education means an education comparable to that provided to students without disabilities.  This may be defined as regular or special education services.  Students can receive related services under Section 504 even if they are not provided any special education.  Section 504 does require development of a plan, although this written document is not mandated.  The Individualized Education Program (IEP) of IDEA may be used for the Section 504 written plan.  Many experts recommend that a group of persons knowledgeable about the students convene and specify the agreed-upon services.


Funding to implement services





No, but limited tax credits may be available for remov-ing architectural/ transpor-tation barriers.  Also, many federal agencies provide grant funds to support training and to provide technical assistance to public and private institutions.

Yes.  IDEA provides federal funds under Parts B and C to assist states and local education agencies in meeting IDEA requirements to serve infants, toddlers and youth with disabilities.

No.  State and local juris-dictions have responsibility.  IDEA funds may not be used to serve children found eligible under Section 504.



Procedural safeguards





The ADA does not specify procedural safeguards related to special education; it does detail the administrative requirements complaint procedures, and cones-quences for noncompliance related to both services and employment.

IDEA requires written notice to parents regarding identify-cation, evaluation, and/or placement.  Further, written notice must be made prior to any change in placement.  The Act delineates the required components of the written notices.

Section 504 requires notice to parents regarding identify-cation, evaluation and/or placements.  Written notice is recommended.  Notice must be made only before a "significant change" in placement.  Following IDEA procedural safeguards is one way to comply with Section 504 mandates.


Evaluation and placement procedures





The ADA does not specify evaluation and placement procedures: it does specify provision of reasonable accommodations for eligible activities and settings.  Reasonable accommodations may include, but are not limited to, redesigning equipment, assigning aides, providing written communication in alternative formats, modifying tests, redesigning services to accessibility locations, altering existing facilities, and building new facilities.

A comprehensive evaluation is required.  A multidisci-plinary team evaluates the child, and parental consent is required before evaluation.  IDEA requires that reevaluations be conducted at least every 3 years.  For evaluation and placement decisions, IDEA requires that more than one single procedure or information source be used; that information from all sources be documented and carefully considered; that the eligibility decision be made by a group of persons who know about the student, the evaluation data, and placement options; and that the placement decision serves the student in the least restrictive environment.  An IEP meeting is required before any change in placement.


Unlike IDEA, Section 504 requires only notice, not consent, for evaluation.  It is recommended that district obtain parental consent.  Like IDEA evaluation and placement procedures under Section 504 require that information be obtained from a variety of sources of the area of concern; that all data are documented and considered; and that decisions are made by a group of persons knowledgeable about the student, evaluation data, and placement options.  Section 504 requires that students be educated with their non-disabled peers to the maximum extent appropriate.  Section 504 does not require a meeting for any change in placement.


Due process





The ADA does not delineate specific due process procedures.  People with disabilities have the same remedies that are available under the Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, as amended in 1991.  Thus, individuals who are discriminated against may file a complaint with the relevant federal agency or due in federal court.  Enforcement agencies encourage informal mediation and voluntary compliance.

IDEA delineates specific requirements for local education agencies to provide impartial hearings for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of a child.

Section 504 requires local education agencies to provide impartial hearings for parents who disagree with the identification, evaluation, or placement of a student.  It requires that parents have an opportunity to participate in the hearing process and to be represented by counsel.  Beyond this, due process details are left to the discretion of the local education agency.  It is recommended that districts develop policy guidelines and procedures.









Back to Top




Individualized Education Program (IEP)

The process may be initiated by anyone (e.g., teacher, counselor, parent, relative, etc.) who suspects that a given child has a disability.  Children with delayed skills for their age level may be eligible for special services that provide individualized instruction and programs in public schools, free of charge. 


Students Eligible for Special Education Services

Children experiencing difficulty learning and functioning in school and identified with a disability are eligible and required to have an Individualized Education Program (IEP).  IEP’s must be made available for  children with:  (1)  learning disabilities, (2),  ADHD, (3)  emotional disorders, (4)  mental retardation, (5) autism, (6) hearing disorders,  (7)  visual impairments, (8)  speech or language disorders,  and (9) developmental delay. All children must be educated in the Least Restrictive Environment (LEA) regardless of disability and usually every effort is made to help children stay in a regular classroom. However, some children are best served in a special classroom.  


The Referral and Evaluation Process

The referral process generally begins when a teacher, parent, relative, etc. believes that a child is having trouble in the classroom.  Initially a referral is made to the school counselor or psychologist. The first step is to gather specific data regarding the student's progress or academic problems. This may be done through initial observations of the student in a classroom setting,  a conference with the student, and/or a conference with the parent(s).  It is important that the teacher reviews analysis of the student's performance (e.g., attention, behavior, class assignments, homework assignments, etc.).  This information will help school personnel determine the best instructional strategies to enhance school performance.  


If either academic and/or behavioral interventional strategies fail, the child must be assessed for a specific disorder to help school personnel determine if the child qualifies for special services.  However, the presence of a disability will not guarantee that the child will receive services. In order to be eligible, the disability must affect the child's performance at school.  Special education services are determined by a multidisciplinary team of professionals who are charged to evaluate the child based on:  (1) their observations, (2) the child's performance on standardized assessments, and (3) daily school performance including (e.g., exams, class assignments, homework assignments, school behavior, etc.).


Evaluation team members may include:  psychologist, physical, speech, and occupational therapists, special classroom teacher, vision or hearing specialist, school nurse, or other professionals, depending on the specific needs of the child.  Evaluation may include measures of specific school skills, classroom behavior, or speech and language developmental performance. Once team members complete their individual assessments they will develop a comprehensive evaluation report of their findings which outlines the skills and support the child will need.  Parents are notified to review the report before the IEP is developed.


Planning the IEP Meetings

By law, the school must notify parents in writing about:  (1) the purpose, place, and time of the meeting, (2) invited participants, and (3) their rights of parents to invite knowledgeable guest with special education expertise.  The IEP must be completed within 30 calendar days from the date the child is found eligible for special education services, and parents must agree to the program, in writing, before the school is allowed to proceed with the IEP.  The IEP must be reviewed at least once every 12 months. Some teams like to meet near the end of a grading period to review and discuss the student's progress and to make changes to the IEP, as necessary. 


IEP Team Members

Under IDEA, the IEP Team must consist of the following persons although there may not be a specify role for all in attendance:  (1) Parent(s), (2) School Administrator from the school district knowledgeable about the regular education general curriculum, resources available,  and special education services.


Individual Educational Program (IEP) Process

The actual IEP includes a statement of the child’s: (1) present level of educational performance, (2) the educational goals for the next year, (3) the services the child is to receive at school, (4) how the services will be provided, (5) how services will be evaluated, (6)  the child’s performance and whether they are meeting their learning or behavioral goals. The next step is an IEP meeting where the team and parents decide what will go into the plan.  The team will discuss the child's educational needs - as described in the comprehensive evaluation report - and come up with specific, measurable short-term and annual goals for each of those needs. The IEP outlines the support services the child will receive and how often they will be provided (for example, occupational therapy two times per week). Support services may include special education, speech therapy, occupational or physical therapy, counseling, medical services, nursing, vision or hearing therapy, and others as needed.


Parents Rights

Parents can decide whether to allow their child to be assessed, and they can also refuse special education services. Parents who agree to the referral and IEP process must sign a permission form describing professionals involved in the process and the types of assessments they plan to conduct. 


Specific timelines ensure that the development of an IEP moves from referral to services as quickly as possible. Parents should ask about this time frame and pick up a copy of parents' rights material when their child is referred. These guidelines (sometimes called procedural safeguards) outline parent’s rights to control what happens to their child during every step of the process.  The parents' rights document also describe how parents can proceed if they disagree with any part of the: (1) evaluation report, (2) the individualized education plan, or, (3) mediation and hearings.  Parents can also obtain information about low-cost or free legal representation from the school district, or, Early Intervention programs for children ages 3 to 5.   Attorneys and paid advocates familiar with the IEP process will provide representation for parents.                          





 Back to Top





Student Centered Classroom – It’s believed that the teacher can best serve a student individually in a student-centered classroom, rather than in a teacher-centered classroom. In this setting, teachers function as colleagues rather than leaders. If we consider that learning is enhanced when students participate in the processing of information, then our challenge as teachers is to find creative ways to design dynamic learning environments that involve students in doing and thinking about specific subjects.


Summative evaluation – evaluation/assessment that comes at the conclusion of an educational program or instructional sequence.


Syllabication - the division of words into syllables [the minimal units of sequential speech sounds comprised of a vowel sound or a vowel-consonant combination, as: /a/, /ba/, /ab/, /bab/, etc.


Syntactic System is the structural (grammar) organization of English that regulates how words are combined into sentences. Word order is important in English and during the pre-school years, children learn to understand, ask questions, construct statements, and many of the capitalization and punctuation rules that elementary students learn reflect the syntactic system of language. This applies to simple, compound, and complex sentences.                                                                     



Back to Top









Reading Tables, Graphs & Charts


Bar Graph:

A bar graph is used to show relationships between groups. The two items being compared do not need to affect each other. It's a fast way to show big differences. Notice how easy it is to see what was done in the experiment below with bean plant growth and different brands of fertilizer.  A typical chart or table for this graph might look like this:




Line Graph:

A line graph is used to show continuing data; how one thing is affected by another. It's clear to see how things are going by the rises and falls a line graph shows. This kind of graph is needed to show the effect of an independent variable on a dependent variable. In the sample below, the pulse rate of a person is shown to change over time. As time continues, the pulse rate changes.   A typical chart or table for this graph might look like this:




Pie Graph

A circle graph is used to show how a part of something relates to the whole. This kind of graph is needed to show percentages effectively.   A typical chart or table for this graph might look like this:







A scatterplot lives up to its name. It’s a graph with a whole lot of points scattered around.  However, the plots are not scattered randomly but in a trend. Once you can identify a  trend, you are able to draw a line that makes an average of the all the plots scattered around. Here’s a line for the previous example:









 Back to Top




Teacher Centered-Classroom indicates that students are passive recipients of the teachers knowledge, and later expected to regurgitate what they have learned on meaningless tests. Students learn social skills during class meetings and how to listen and respect differences. They also learn to brainstorm for solutions that are helpful (not punitive). Since they are involved in the process, they are more willing to follow rules they have helped create. Not only can teachers eliminate most discipline problems, but they can help children learn self-discipline, responsibility, cooperation, and problem-solving skills. (Tompkins, 2002)




Thorndike, Edward L. (1874-1949) was an American psychologist who researched the human psychology and animal learning. Thorndike is often called, the father of educational psychology. After extensive research on animal intelligence, he formulated his law of effect theory which suggests that behavior is learned by trial and error or, by reward and punishment. This implies that behavior which is followed by positive and satisfying consequences is more likely to be learned and repeated. In contrast, behavior that is followed by negative and unsatisfying consequences is more difficult to learn and thus not likely to be repeated.

Thorndike designed the puzzle boxes to investigate the intelligent of cats. Here a hungry cat was placed in the puzzle box with only one way for the cat to escape. Initially, the cat trashed about the box trying to get out. When it accidentally tripped a lever, the door opened. This is called
acquisition trial. Eventually, the cat learned that in order it to escape, it had to perform certain actions such as pulling a string or pushing a button. Thorndike researched the time that it took for the cat to escape. The application of positive, negative, and neutral responses was used to determine a correlation relative to the amount of time it took for the cat to learn how to escape from the box.

After Thorndike plotted the amount of time it took for several different cats to escape, he discovered that the time a given cat had to stay in the maze was gradually shortened with each attempt. This finding led to the realization that animals created a connection between the correct response and the food (reward) that was available. Therefore, the process of having a particular
stimulus-response sequence followed by pleasurable reward allowed the response to be learned.  He also discovered that if the stimulus-response was followed by pain, the responses were eliminated or ignored. Moreover, changes in behavior and/or learning can occur automatically as animals or people discover contingency relationships – which implies that the occurrence of a given event is dependent on or determined by the occurrence of another event. This is also called associative learning. According to Thorndike, learning is a result of habits formed through trial and error. His theory of learning is called, Connectionism.


Trade Books are not textbooks and written specifically for children. They include storybooks, books of poetry, picture books, etc. and used to teach language arts.


Transmission Learning is the process by which information, knowledge, ideas and skills are gained from instruction, guidance, and demonstration. However, it has been determined that this approach is not very effective and it only accounts for about 10% of actual learning.


Lev Vygotsky (1896-1934) - believed that children’s conceptual abilities are developed through play and imagination. Vygotsky indicated that ‘play’ leads to development. When children imitate or model adults in culturally patterned activities, they engage in memories and reenactments of actual situations.  This process helps to stimulate and enhance their imagination and recognition of the rules that direct their behavior within their culture.   There are three overarching themes to understand in applying Vygotsky’s theory of learning:  culture, language, and the zone of proximal development (ZPD).



The culture actually dictates what we have to learn, and the types of skills we need to develop to be successful within a given cultural.



The learning of language is brought about by social processes, and language makes thought possible. As children develop so does their language emanates through our culture.  Therefore, language directs learning and behavior. Vygotsky believed that there were three stages in the development of speech with its own functions.


1st Stage- Social speech (or external speech)

This speech is not related to thinking and the children use this speech to control the behavior of others (e.g., crying, laughing or shouting).  An example of speech in this stage is "I want milk."


2nd Stage- Egocentric Speech

This speech is typically among children three to seven years of age.  Here, children tend to talk to themselves, regardless of if someone is listening to them or not.  They are beginning to think things out loud in an attempt to guide their own behavior.  They may speak about what they are doing as they do it.  (e.g., A child in school who counts out loud one block at a time saying each number as he/she goes along to get five.)


3rd Stage- Inner Speech

The inner, soundless speech is the final stage of speech development. This speech is used by older children and adults to direct thinking and behavior. During this stage, they are able to engage in higher mental reflection by counting in their head and using logical memory to solve problems.


Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is the process of advancing the learner from what is presently known to what is to be known with modeling and guidance. It is also the gap between the child’s actual developmental ability as determined by their current problem solving skills and their potential to solve problem with adult guidance.  A child's actual developmental level specifies a child's level of mental development at a specific period.  The ZPD also expose skills that have already matured in given pupils. In contrast, a child's ZPD defines those skills that have not matured, but in the developmental process of maturing.  (Review:


Curriculum  Since children learn much through social interaction, grade level curricula should be designed to emphasize interaction between learners and learning tasks.  Cooperative learning, group assignments, and peer tutors are important to the learning process.


Instruction  With appropriate adult help, children can often perform tasks that they are incapable of completing on their own. With this in mind, scaffolding is a modeling process where adults continually adjust the level of their help in response to the child's level of performance. Scaffolding involves the facilitator giving learners information from which they can draw new conclusions (i.e., new learning at a higher level).  Scaffolding also instills the skills necessary for independent problem solving in the future.


Assessment methods must acknowledge the Zone of Proximal Development.  Tasks children do on their own is their actual level development; and what they do with help is their level of potential development. Two children might have the same level of actual development, but given the appropriate help from an adult, one might be able to solve more problems than the other. Assessment must target both the level of actual development and the level of potential development.


Scaffolding Example

A boy is playing with toys in a classroom with the teacher.  However, all of the toys are for little girls or babies (e.g., blocks, rattles, dolls, play house, baby carriage, etc.).   The child notice that a toy hydroplane is on top of the storage cabinet.  The teacher tells the boy that if he can get the toy down they can play with it. At first the boy attempts to jump up and reach it.  However, the hydroplane is too far up to reach by jumping.


The teacher interrupts and says to the boy, "Is there anything in the room that can help you?" The boy gets on top of a chair.  But, the chair is too far away from the storage cabinet. While on top of the chair, he saw a small step ladder near the storage cabinet.  He gets off the chair and climbs on top of the ladder. However, the toy is still out of reach.  He begins to think and look around the classroom.  He spots a broom and shouts, "I can use this to reach it."  He retrieves the broom and climbs back up the ladder and knocks the toy down. 


This is an example illustrating how the boy used three tools to solve the problem; the chair, ladder and the broom. The example illustrated how three techniques are employed.  First, the child had to have a degree of mastery over the tools and symbols he has learned thus far from his immediate environment/culture.  The language development skills he had mastered gave him the ability to interact and communicate with the teacher when he was not able to solve the problem initially.  The classroom teacher’s understanding of the Zone of Proximal Development assisted in his ability to use scaffolding to help the child to use his own thinking ability to ultimately solve the problem by utilizing first a chair, second, a ladder, and lastly, the broom.     





 Back to Top





Watson, John B. (1878-1958) was an American psychologist. He later received his Ph.D. from Johns Hopkins University in experimental and comparative psychology. Watson studied animals (rats), and children. In 1913, he published a paper on psychology that would later form a whole new branch of psychology that came to be known as behaviorism.   Watson believed that researchers should only study behaviors that were observable and measurable. The study of emotions or thoughts was considered to be an inappropriate area of study because it could not be observed directly.  The goal of a behaviorist's is to determine which stimulus elicits which response. One of his most infamous experiments involved a month old baby boy, code-named Albert B.

Initially Albert B showed no fear of the rat and even allowed the rat to crawl over him. Over a period of time, Watson made a loud deafening noise that scared the baby every time he was exposed to the rat. Eventually, every time Albert B. was exposed to the rat, Watson made a loud banging noise that made him cry.  A few months later when Albert B. was again exposed to a rat, his crying had become the conditioned response to the stimuli just by merely being in the presence of the rat or any furry object. This was the first study to show that emotional reaction could be
classically conditioned. 

Whole Language - an approach to reading instruction focusing on reading for meaning and the integration of the four aspects of language: reading, writing, listening, and speaking.


Whole Word Method is the use of flash cards or word lists before students start reading a story or unfamiliar words to be encountered in the context of sentences.


Within-word Spelling is common among children seven to nine-year of age. This approach reveals that students understanding of the alphabetic principle are further refined in this stage as they learn how to spell long-vowel patterns and r-controlled vowels (e.g., a few within-word spelling include: LIEV (live), SOPE (soap), HUOSE (house), and BERN (burn). Students experiment with long-vowel patterns and learn that words such as come and bread are exceptions that do not fit the vowel patterns. Sometimes, students tend to confuse spelling patterns and spell meet and METE, and they also tend to reverse the order of letters, such as FORM for from and GRIL for girl.


Word wall - A tool to help young readers learn to recognize and read specific words. Words are listed alphabetically on a chart by either students or teachers and displayed in the classroom for children to refer to while reading.


Zone of Proximal Development (ZPD) is the gap between what individuals know and do not know about a specific topic. A child's ZPD is the gap or range of specific tasks they can perform with assistance from parents or teachers, but are unable to perform on their own. Children's ability to learn is facilitated via their interaction with adults; therefore, extensive and meaningful conversation between adults and children is important to the learning process.                                                                               



 Back to Top





Praxis –II  Physical Education Terms


Abduction – to take away from the midline of the body


Adduction – to add to the midline of the body


Age Appropriate Skills – participating in skills that are suited for the student maturity and strength level 


Agonist – muscle which cause  a certain movement by overcoming resistance and shortening when it is stimulated


Anatomical Position – point of reference that is used to determine a particular area, a commonly accepted starting position, body forward, upright position, palms facing forward


Anatomy – the study structure of the human body


Antagonist – muscle whose function is opposite to that of some muscle tending to cause a movement


Anteroposterior Axis – imaginary line passing through the body from front to back  (saggital)  


Axis – an imaginary line around the body in which the body or body parts rotate


Biaxial – joint which permits movement in two planes


Bi-lateral – two different body planes in reference


Bi-lateral Axis – imaginary horizontal line passing through the body from side to side  (frontal)


Biomechanics – the study of the mechanics of the structure and function of living organisms


Body Management Competence – acquiring skill relating to balance, (using apparatus, on floor across the floor, etc.


Buoyancy - property that enables the body to raise while submerged in water


Cardinal – If all planes divide the body into equal weight portions


Cardio-respiratory endurance – the lungs and heart being able to withstand the demands place on it


Center of Gravity – point where all the weight of the body may be considered concentrated or the theoretical point around which the body weight is evenly distributed


Concentric – development of tension in a muscle with consequent shortening of the muscle


Contra-Lateral – actions, positions, landmark locations on the opposite side


Depression – movement of a body part downward


Developmental Kinesiology – is the study of motion applied to the developmental process


Dorsiflexion – the movement of the toes away from the floor


Eccentric –  development of tension within a muscle while it lengthening


Elementary  Stage – attaining some of the correct mechanics but not yet fully developed


Elevation – movement of a body part upward


Eversion – is the movement of the foot in which the lateral border is raised while the toes are pointed directly forward


Extension – to extend a body part,  the movement of a body part that increases the angle of a joint


External Kinesiology – the study of forces apart from the human body acting to produce or control motion


Flexion – to bend a body part, the movement of a body part that decrease and angle of a joint


Fundamental Skill -  skills that serve as the initial basis to build on, student at a particular age must complete these skills in a timely in order to move on to more complex skills  


Hamstrings – allows for extension of the knee


Initial Stage – mere beginning, imperfect form


Internal Kinesiology – study of forces of the human body acting to produce or control motion


Inversion – movement of the foot in which the medial border is raised while the toes are pointed straight ahead


Ipsilateral – (IP’SE) – to describe an activity or the location of a segment or landmark positioned on the same side as a particular reference point


Isokinetic – exercise during which the velocity of the muscular contraction is controlled rather than the resistance


Isometric – contraction in which the muscle’s length remains the same


Isotonic – contraction  in which the load remains the same while the muscle shortens


Kinesiology – is the study of motion


Lateral – of or pertaining to the side


Longitudinal Axis _ - a imaginary vertical line passing through the body from top to bottom  (transverse)


Mature Stage – attained the required mechanics and have achieved the developmental level necessary to proceed


Mechanical Analysis – the study of forces, velocity, etc. acting during each component part of a performance

Mechanics – the branch of physics concerned with the action of forces on bodies


Motor Readiness – based on the student developmental level are they ready to accept particular skills based on strength and maturity


Muscular Analysis – the study of the muscles relating to each component part of a performance


Oblique Axis -_ imaginary diagonal line cutting through the body


Physiology – the study of the function of the human body


Plantar Flexion – movement of the toes toward the floor as in planting


Principle of Adaptation – adjustment to overload


Principle of Individual – uniqueness of the individual


Principle of Long-Term Training – years of performance and effort needed for excellence


Principle of Overload – putting greater demands on the body


Principle of Progression -  pacing the overload or the exposure to new learning


Principle of Readiness – maturation of student (are they mature enough to respond to the material being taught)


Principle of Specificity – training to meet particular demands


Principle of Variation – changing activities


Principle of Warm-Up/Cool Down – not beginning or ending vigorous exercise abruptly


Principle or Reversibility – the loss of training gains-use it or lose it


Proprioceptive  system – sensory organs that monitor information about body position and transmit it to the spinal column and brain


Protraction – refers to movement where the upper back muscles by crossing the arms in front of the chest


Quadriceps – allows for flexion of the knee


Retraction – movement illustrated in stretching the upper chest muscles by moving the arms horizontally from in front of the chest to the side


Rudimental – of or pertaining to the mere beginning, undeveloped, imperfect form of an action


Specificity – training focused around a specific area


Stability – quality relating to the degree to which a body resists being upset or moved


Superman Position – floating on the stomach side, arms extended at front of the body, gliding through the water


Torque – tendency to produce rotary motion, movement of force


Triaxial – joint which permits rotary movement in three major planes


Uniaxial - joint which has only one plane of movement


Velocity – rate of motion in a specific direction




  Back to Top





Praxis-II  Special Education Concepts, Pioneers, and Terms


Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)

One of the most misunderstood, misinterpreted, and misdiagnosed syndromes researched by scientists today. The disorder is treated as though it were some recently discovered esoteric phenomenon with life threatening properties. However, ADHD is simply a piece of behavior sometimes more intense and sometimes less, but nonetheless, it is not as serious as most people believe. To understand this affliction, a concise overview relative to its history, terminology, definition, and treatment will be provided.


Historical Perspective of ADHD

"Hyperactivity" is another in a series of worn out euphemisms which seemingly are being replaced yearly to satisfy the whim of a researcher in support of a theory relative to ADHD. This disorder has been around forever, but under different names. An article by Franklin G. Ebaugh (1923) in the American Journal of Diseases of Children, 26, 89-97 proved to be quite interesting. Dr. Ebaugh, a physician and Director of the Near-psychiatric Department of the Philadelphia General Hospital, became fascinated in a disease called "epidemic encephalitis" with respect to its affect on adolescents.


Ebaugh pointed out that he had noticed that children afflicted with epidemic encephalitis tended to be: unmanageable, quarrelsome, impulsive, talkative, disruptive, moody, hysterical, irritable, incorrigible. They also suffered from insomnia, tics, hyperkinesis, and sexual precocity. Ebaugh further indicated that there was no specific treatment for encephalitis. He also found that psychotherapy was ineffective and suggested that perhaps there was a need for the children's psychopathic ward in the hospital to create a new environment conducive for prolonged observation.


This report is among the first to describe the hyperactivity/hyperkinesis phenomenon. During the past 70 years, the term hyperactivity has shifted from one term to another. In the 1930's, the disorder was referred to as "restlessness," "irritability," "overactivity," and Charles Bradley's (1937) term, "organic behavior syndrome." By the 1940's, Strauss & Werner (1941) and Strauss & Lehtinen (1947) used the term, "distractibility. " Terms of the 1950's included, "minimal brain damage" by Strauss & Kephart (1955) and "hyperkinetic impulse disorder," by Laufer, Denhoff, & Solomons (1957). Clements (1966) indicated that since it was difficult to prove that a child was afflicted with "minimal brain damage" or "Strauss Syndrome" as it was commonly called, perhaps, the term "minimal brain dysfunction" (MBD) was more appropriate.


During the late 1960's, the American Psychiatry Association (APA) became involved in the disorder renaming business. They published the Diagnostic Statistical Manual-II (DSM-II) (1968) and called the syndrome, "hyperkinetic reaction of childhood." During the 1970's the most common terms used to describe this disorder, "hyperactivity" and "hyperkinesis" were most popular. However, by 1980, APA published its third, Diagnostic Statistical Manual-III (DSM-III), and they renamed the disorder "attention-deficit disorder" (ADD) and ADD-H (with hyperactivity). Within just six years, 1986, APA published a revised edition of Diagnostic Statistical Manual-III-R (DSM-III-R) and renamed the disorder still another time to "attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder" (ADHD). In 1997, APA published Diagnostic Statistical Manual-IV (DSM-IV).


Definition and Classification of ADHD

With the terminological evolution which has occurred over the past half-century, nothing has changed with respect to gaining a greater perception of this disorder; we are still only describing some overt behavior on the part of individuals. ADHD is better defined as "constant spontaneous, uncontrollable, overt, purposeless behavior unconsciously displayed by children." After examining all of the new terms and classifications which have evolved over the years, the characteristics have remained unchanged from Ebaugh's (1923) original list of characteristics.


Before treatment is implemented, it is important to know that children afflicted with the disorder tend to be:  (1.) Internally and unconsciously driven and unable to control their excessive motion. This movement is more disturbing to some than it is for others; therefore, tolerance level is in effect, and the level and degree of tolerance a teacher has will ultimately determine how the child is treated in class and accepted by his peers. (2.) Basically "good" children are able to adjust and deal with the disorder if intervention is carefully planned. (3.) Some ADHD children are grossly misunderstood as being "bad," "incorrigible," or "unmanageable." However, teachers can correct this myth by discussing the child's problem with the class when the child is absent so that the class will understand his problem and learn to accept him for his strengths and not reject him for his disorder. 4. Other ADHD children are highly impressionable and tend to place a great deal of merit in the labels assigned to describe him. Thus, if his problem is basically psychological, once he is labeled, his symptoms are subject to become psychosomatic simply to avoid specific classroom tasks. Hence, children tend to be vulnerable to the self-fulfilling prophecy and thus they tend to behave according to both teacher and parental expectations.


Treatment and Intervention Options

Children suspected of being afflicted with ADHD tend to be profoundly misdiagnosed. In fact, far too many were labeled on the basic of behavior rating scales somewhat designed to complement the APA's DSM criteria of ADHD. Other children are identified much too early. Children ages three to seven are still babies with excessive energy. They should be allowed to romp around and openly be kids. Again, structure is the key. When play is carefully monitored, these children should have very little problems playing and expressing themselves. Still other children were never diagnosed by certified physicians with training and experience in psycho-stimulant drug therapy. Typically, many physicians have reviewed research which purports that drug therapy is effective with hyperkinetic children, and thus, they make this erroneous recommendation to their clients.


There are degrees of hyperactivity which ranges from mild to profound. the DSM points out that the typical ADHD child tend to display the disorder either in school or at home, and thus these children deserve another classification. However, the severity of the disorder should be carefully analyzed, especially if the child has been diagnosed as responding to drug therapy. Although one-third of the children identified as ADHD do not respond to psycho-stimulant drug therapy, it is very easy to ascertain which children do respond.


Predecessors of the current ADHD terms include the old standards hyperactivity and hyperkinesis. In examining these constructs, we find that they are one-and-the same, but they are characterized by a degree of severity. "Hyperkinesis" is a term preferred by physicians, because of its neurological etiology, as substantiated by Ebaugh's (1923) article. The term hyperkinesis has been associated with brain-injury/damage throughout the literature for over 50 years.

In 1937, Bradley found that children suffering from physiological complication and exhibiting hyperkinetic behavior responded to psycho-stimulant drug treatment. Stimulant drugs such as Ritalin and Cylert tend to have a paradoxical effect on children suffering from physiological problems. Thus, rather than stimulating and speeding up motor activity as it would with normal children, the drugs impede motor functioning. Hence, the child is now better able to focus on cognitive tasks.


In contrast, "hyperactivity" is a term preferred by psychologist, educators, social workers, and lay persons. The etiology is believed to be psychological or ecological. Children suspected as being hyperactive are not viewed as serious as hyperkinetic. Therefore, psycho-stimulant drug therapy is not effective with these children, and other treatment alternatives should be selected, especially in view of the adverse effects and repercussions associated to long term drug therapy. Research indicates that long term drug usage can result in: (1.) loss of appetite; (2.) drug dependency; (3.) weight loss; (4.) insomnia;  (5.) skin rashes; and  (6.) overall growth delay.


Some of the proven methodologies found to be effective with ADHD children include: (1.) behavior modification/management; (2.) relaxation tapes; (3.) bio-feedback; (4.) family intervention/parent training; (5.) ecological control; (6.) group relaxation training; (7.) physical exercise; (8.) musical involvement; (9.) individual and team sports; and (10.) hypnotherapy.


A double blind study can be employed to determine whether a child will respond to drug therapy. After a child has been identified as hyperkinetic and scheduled to receive drug therapy, he should be carefully monitored by parent(s) and the classroom teacher. These individuals are expected to chart the frequencies of his acting-out or disruptive behavior daily. This approach should continue for a minimum of one month. During this interval, the researcher must administer a stimulant drug (Ritalin or Cylert) alternated with a placebo.


After a minimum of a month, the researcher will analyze the data provided by parent(s) and teachers relative to how the child behaved on a daily basis. By comparing the findings based on the child's behavior during the treatment, the researcher is able to determine if the drug was indeed effective. Cases where the child's behavior remained active whether he received either drugs or placebo, illustrates that he is not likely to be suffering from neurological or physiological disorders. Therefore, drug therapy should be discontinued. However, if the child responded to drug therapy, he is a candidate for this treatment and his dosage should be initially reduced to the bare minimum.


Teachers can help children afflicted with ADHD by helping students to cope with the disorder by redirecting their excessive energy constructively by having them pass out books and class assignments; allowing students the freedom to move liberally about the classroom if they will not disturb the other students; using students as peer teachers whenever possible to allow them to expend some of their excessive energy and to build up their self-esteem; and having students erase and wash the chalkboard or do other classroom chores that children enjoy doing for teachers.


Teachers should also keep in mind that ADHD children cannot control their behavior, but if their actions are monitored and they are permitted to move about the classroom freely, they should be able to function within the guidelines of class rules. The following chart will provide some information how to approach the mainstreaming/full inclusion controversy.                                                                                                               



   (Back to the Top)


Autism  (early infantile autism)

Coined by Eugene Bleuler in 1906 and renamed "early infantile autism" by Leo Kanner in 1943. This severe disorder of communication and behavior can be identified as early as 12 months of age, and must be identified before age three. Characteristics common to this disorder include children who: (1.) lack meaningful speech or engages in echolalia; (2.) are withdrawn into themselves; (3.) are uninterested in others, or affectionless; (4.) engages in constant rocking; (5.) engages in stemming (e.g., walking on tip-toes flailing arms about); (6.) engages in perseveration; (7.) are obsessed with sameness; (8.) are obsessed with spinning objects; (9.) engages in self-afflicted punishment; (10.) engages in bazaar ritualistic behavior; and (11.) gives the appearance of being mentally retarded (MR) although many are highly educable.


Ninety percent of autistic children are boys, and most children are physically attractive. Mothers of autistic children are usually normal and caring. Autism is a textbook phenomenon which implies that children identified as autistic will possess most of the aforementioned characteristics listed. While the etiology remains unknown, it has been determined that autistic children refuse to enter reality, and they use their bazaar behavior as a way of coping with the little reality known to them.


In contrast, the term childhood schizophrenia, as used in 1946 by Dr. Lauretta Bender, author of the famous Bender Gestalt Test, is characterized by children who once entered reality, but they were unable to cope, and thus adopt analogous characteristics of autistic children in their quest to cope with reality as they know. In order for children to be identified as childhood schizophrenic, they must be identified by a certified psychiatrist and physician after the age of four. Delaying classification until age four shows that the child is not autistic and did, in fact, enter reality and later regressed because of his inability to cope.


Less than one quarter of the nations approximately 200,000 to 300,000 autistic children will ever achieve even marginal adjustment. Treatment and remediation methodologies are theoretical and experimental with respect to treatment. Autism is a term which can truly be labeled as esoteric in nature. Common terms relative to the disorder are autistic savants, infantile autism, and autistic schizophrenic.                                        



            (Back to the Top)




Emotionally Disturbed (Conduct Disorder)

A disorder characterized by constant, excessive, purposeless overt or covert unconscious behavior, which impedes or disrupts normal classroom instruction or interpersonal relationships at home or with peers.  Historically, there has been confusion in defining and categorizing this disorder. The reason for this dilemma relates to the lack of a universal consensus on an acceptable definition, largely due to the characteristics common to children identified as disturbed. Many of the labels assigned to these children sometimes serve concurrently as classifications themselves such as, mentally insane, behavior disorder, emotionally disturbed, socially maladjusted, "children in conflict," and conduct disorder. To provide a better understanding of this condition, information relative to history, definition, etiology, assessment, education, and behavioral intervention options will be examined.


Historical Perspective

France offered treatment for the mentally insane during the early 1800's. Philippe Pinel (1745-1826), a physician and psychiatrist, is considered as being among the first to call for reforms relative to the management of these individuals. Previously, the insane were killed or imprisoned for a life-long existence of ridicule, torture, and abuse. Pinel endorsed a humanistic approach of kindness. Jean Itard was encouraged by Pinel, his mentor to adopt the humanistic approach for treating the insane as opposed to the cruel tactics, which were employed during that era.


Other Europeans who recognized that the mentally insane deserved treatment and education included Jean Esquirol (1772-1840) from France and William Tuke from England. Efforts to provide services for the insane were initiated in the United States as well. The impetus for this movement was due largely to Benjamin Rush (1745-1813), whom many credit as being the father of American psychiatry, Dorothea Dix (1802-1887), and Samuel G. Howe. Contemporary pioneers include Edgar Doll, Leo Kanner, Alfred Strauss , Strauss & Lehtinen, Lauretta Bender, and Bruno Bettelheim.


Dorothea Dix (1802-1887) - is considered one of the most influential American leaders for the care and welfare of the mentally insane. For most of her life she worked with the United States Congress and with Horace Mann. Dix was directly responsible for the movement to create more hospitals and asylums for the mentally ill. Because of Dix's dedication, assistance was finally provided for individuals identified as emotionally disturbed.


Etiology, Characteristics, and Classification

Strauss & Lehtinen (1947) - reported that behavioral disorders were related to neurological disorders. In a 1951 article by Strauss, "The Education of the Brain-injured Child," he stated that brain-injured children also displayed perceptual disturbances which in turn affected emotional behavior. He indicated that the brain-injured child focuses on an object first and the whole later on, while the normal child sees the whole all at once and nothing at first. The brain-injured child's attention is directed to meaningless insignificant detail.


Doll, Edgar A. (1889-1968) believed that behavioral disorders were "organically driven" because of neurological complications stemming from brain-injury. He used the term, "neurophrenia" to describe behavioral symptoms characteristic of brain injury, which included hyperactivity, irrelevance, and anxiety.


While a small percentage of researchers perceived the etiology of behavioral disorders to be physiological, a greater number believe that behavior disorder is psychological and emotional in nature. However, variables associated to this realm are copious. Suspected causes center around family conflict and stress within the home. Therefore, any number of factors including divorce, abuse (physical, sexual, verbal, drug), neglect, crime, poverty, neurosis, and unemployment might be related. Because of the inordinate amount of factors related to the etiology, there are also as many characteristics common to this disorder, including, hyperactivity, anxiety, sexual deviancy, juvenile delinquency, social maladjustment, neuroses, or any other excessive behavior.


Since the behavior of disturbed children is so extreme, these children can be identified by almost anyone because their conduct stands out from the norm. Because of the vast number of characteristics associated to these children, classification is nearly impossible; thus, the same terms which are used as characteristics usually end up being applied as classifications as well.


A good example of this problem can be demonstrated by examining the characteristics, "socially maladjusted" and "juvenile delinquent." Both of these characteristics are also used to classify. Consequently, in order to agree on an acceptable definition, problems relative to classification and characteristics must be corrected. The term "emotionally disturbed" is generic in nature and encompasses all of the psychological terms associated with the disorder including; autism, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), social maladjustment, etc.


Socially Maladjusted (SM):

When examining social maladjustment (SD), we find that this term includes four disorders including the: (1.) unsocialized aggressive, (2.) socialized aggressive, (3.) over-inhibited, and (4.)  juvenile delinquent.


Unsocialized aggressive describes boys from low SES, single family homes who are: (1.) Neglected/rejected by mothers, (2.) Characterized as loners by age seven, (3.) Lacking peer relationships, (4.) Defiant toward authority, and 5. Cruel and hostile.


If these boys are not identified and helped early, they may become psychopaths. As they mature, they tend to become con men who use their charisma to attract and to kill females. They are usually handsome and pathological liars, with little or no remorse for their actions. While sexual acts are sometimes inflicted upon their victims, it is usually not for gratification, but merely to degrade or for show of power.


Psychopaths (sociopaths) are considered serial killers who usually stalk and harm females to unconsciously get back at their mothers for the physical and sexual abuse they were subjected to from her and sometimes from her lovers. Psychopaths tend to murder their victims over a given period of time, sometimes leaving tips for the authorities to follow-up. Thus, Hollywood is fascinated by these individuals, and scores of films are produced yearly depicting psychopathic behavior and killers.


Socialized aggressive are boys from low SES and single family homes. However, they once knew their fathers, but due to some family trauma (divorce, death, etc.) the father is no longer in the home and now the boy is neglected/rejected by his mother. He is also characterized as being a loner, but he will establish selected peer group relationships with a chosen few who share similar values of cruelty. These youngsters are not as dangerous as the psychopath, but they are anti-social, and do harm people. The classic film, "Clockwork Orange," offers an excellent example of socialized aggressive behavior. Less than 4% of all individuals identified as socialized aggressive are girls.


Over-inhibited are boys from middle/upper SES intact families. Parent(s) are usually professional, gainfully employed, and very caring. However, they tend to be too overly protective, and fail to allow the child to explore or experience their environment for fear that their child might get hurt. Thus, these children grow up passive and unable to defend themselves in school.


As adults, they have families and decent jobs. But, loss of job/promotion, or a divorce/separation causes them to lose control and become mass murderers. Typical behavior depicts them killing their own families (parents, siblings, wife, children) before they kill the person(s) responsible for their trauma. The murders usually take place at the post office, at fast-food restaurants, etc. They tend to kill more than one person and often end up being killed themselves by police SWAT teams. Neighbors and friends indicate that "it could not have been him, he is too nice, everyone likes him." The film, "Falling Down" provides a good illustration of the individual identified as over-inhibited.


Juvenile delinquency (JD)  is a legal term, therefore; definition depends on the following; a youth between the ages of 10-16, who commits a crime, and is apprehended by law officials, arraigned in court, adjudicated, and incarcerated. Unless the youth fits this criteria, he is not JD, and has only engaged in delinquent behavior (DB), which is 30 times more prevalent than JD. Adolescents who engage in delinquent behavior are seldom apprehended and fail to serve time in correctional institutions. Seven of 10 juvenile delinquents are boys and 70% will commit crimes again.


Disorders listed under SM represent the absolute extreme, as a very small percentage of boys will ever end up becoming a psychopath. However, it does illustrate the dynamics of the characteristic/ classification phenomenon. Since ED represents the generic composition of all emotional and psychological disorders, children from other categories falling under its domain are considered emotionally disturbed. Socially maladjustment (SM) falls under the broad category of emotionally disturbed (ED); thus, all individuals identified as SM are considered ED as well. Moreover, one can be classified as SM and not be JD, but the child identified as JD is also SM as well as ED. Conversely, a child can be identified as ED and be neither SM nor JD.


After reviewing the many classifications of ED, the term "Conduct Disorder (CD) appears to be one which should be recognized by the field. According to the Diagnostic Statistical Manual III-R (DSM-III) (1986) published by the American Psychiatric Association (APA), conduct disorder involves "excessive impulsivity," "poor attention span," and "acting-out behavior." There are four types of conduct including: 1. Unsocialized aggressiveness, 2. Unsocialized non aggressiveness, 3. Socialized aggressiveness, 4. Socialized non aggressiveness.


Behavior Disorder Assessment Procedures

Diagnosing children for behavioral/conduct disorders is a subjective process involving careful observation. Children must be monitored daily to ascertain the degree and severity of their disorder. This approach is accomplished with checklists or behavioral rating scales, which illicit responses from classroom teachers. The list of items consists of statements or questions depicting behavior, which is inappropriate for normal classroom order. Sample items query "talkative," "disrupts the class," "out of seat for no reason," "fails to complete assignments," aggressive toward classmates," etc.


Before diagnosis is conducted, it is important to understand that children with emotional problems: 1. Manifest the same behavioral problems every single day, which implies that they do not take days off, 2. Manifest acute disorders to the extreme, if they are aggressive, they will be aggressive daily to any or most of their classmates, and 3. Manifest behavioral problems which are so deviant that the lay person is able to identify them in a normal classroom setting.


Checklist and rating scales are subjective because behavior, which might be disruptive to one teacher, may go unnoticed or be ignored by another teacher. Therefore, tolerance level is important in identifying disruptive or annoying behavior. Teachers should chart behaviors displayed by the child daily and count the frequencies of the behaviors occurring throughout the day. Teachers must be reminded that the behavior must be extreme, constant, observable, and disturbing to others. A few of the popular scales include, Revise Behavior Problem Checklist, Social Skills Rating System, and the Comprehensive Behavior Rating Scale for Children.


Educational and Behavioral Intervention

Remedial intervention with respect to cognitive and affective development and performance relies on behavioral management strategies and theoretical positions emanating from practical and empirical research investigations with roots derived from early psychological, sociological, physiological, and educational theorists.


Intervention perspectives designed to identify, and to ameliorate classroom behavior and academic achievement include: the, psychodynamic, behavioral, biophysical, ecological, and sociological, model, position, theory, approach, perspective or view.


Pioneers and contemporary proponents for these theoretical perspectives include "psychodynamic" (e.g., Freud, Morse, Long, Redl, Bettelheim); "behavioral" (Pavlov, Watson, Skinner, Hewett, Bandura, Whalen); "biophysical" (Strauss, Doll, Rimland, Kanner); "ecological" (Kounin, Faris & Dunham); and "sociological" (Durkheim, Epps, DesJarlais).


Psychodynamic View is based on Freud's psychoanalytic theory of personality development. Treatment and remediation is structured to focus on identifying and eliminating the underlying cause of the maladaptive behavior which is believed to be unconsciously motivated. Problems are manifested by behavior affecting the child's id, ego, or superego. Treatment involves therapeutic approaches (art, music, dance, play), using free association and individual/group counseling. This approach also relies on the individuals who know the child and who meet weekly to discuss his problems and progress. Members include: the teacher(s), parent(s), social worker, psychologist, and school administrator.


This perspective views the child and his internal motivation as most important. Intervention is dependent upon gathering as much information about the child as possible. The therapist needs to know: (1.) How the child perceives himself? (self-esteem) (2.) How the child perceives his family environment? and (3.) Something about the child's medical history relative to developmental milestones.


Intervention is designed to: (1.) help the child in understanding himself and others, (2.) enhance the child's self-esteem, (3.) help the child become self-directed and independent, (4.) help the child express impulses in socially acceptable ways, (5.) help the child control negative impulses, and (6.) help the child express positive impulses.



            (Back to the Top)



Behavior View is Influenced by Pavlov, Watson, and Skinner. Behavior proponents reject the Psychodynamic position because they believe that it is not necessary to determine the actual cause of a behavior. They suggest that behavior is learned, and thus, it can be unlearned. Moreover, the original cause of a behavior is not likely to be what is currently maintaining the behavior.


This perspective views the specific inappropriate behavior and its setting as most important. Treatment involves changing maladaptive behavior by punishing, ignoring, and by rewarding and reinforcing acceptable behavior. Intervention is dependent upon gathering information regarding:  (1.) The frequency of a specific behavior, (2.) The types of events which precede the behavior, and (3.) The types of events which ensue the behavior.


This approach relies on shaping and controlling overt maladaptive behavior by: (1.) Ignoring behavior that will not spread to others or disrupt classroom instruction or activities, (2.) Using hand and eye signals to impede behavior before it is allowed to get out of control, (3.) Using praise before a child has an opportunity to act-out, (4.) Positioning oneself in close proximity to a child who gives the impression that he might be on the verge of acting-out, and (5.) Using children with behavior problems as class helpers.


Ecological View is sometimes referred to as "bionomic" meaning the relationship between organisms and their environment. This approach focuses on the internal forces (needs, drives) and the external forces (e.g., social mores, roles, cultural patterns). The etiology of deviant behavior is believed to be due to factors within the environment. So, different settings tend to evoke different types of deviant behavior. Therefore, maladaptive behavior is situation-oriented. In addition, behavior is related to or determined by the culture or the environment. Hence, behavior, which is acceptable in one environment, may be perceived as deviant in another, (e.g., fighting, delinquency, drinking, stealing, etc.). This perspective views the individual and his environment with equal concern in analyzing maladaptive behavior.


Intervention is designed to: (1.) Enhance the interaction between the child and his environment, (2.) Taking the focus off the child, (3.) Provide support for the child's total environment, in school, at home, and with peers, and (4.)  Be used with other models.


Sociological View was influenced by Emile Durkheim. Sociological proponents perceive the schools as a mirror or a reflection of dominant societal values. It is the school's role to socialize, educate, and instill values. This approach argues that focus should be directed toward the group and not to a specific individual who appears to be deviant or disturbed.


This perspective views the classroom and groups within the classroom setting as most important. Deviant behavior is not caused by a single child, but by the group or cliques within a given classroom. Hence, individuals are rejected by the group when they deviate from the norm either positively or negatively.

Intervention involves: (1.) Examining the roles of specific individuals within the classroom or cliques to identify the conformists or deviants, (2.) Learning how change is made within the classroom, groups, or cliques, and the consequences for making change, (3.) Changing the structure of the group when deviant behavior is out of control and impeding classroom instruction, and (4.) Ignoring individual maladaptive behavior and focusing on group behavior.



Biophysical View  was influenced by Strauss, Doll, and Kanner. Theorists supporting this perspective believe that the etiology of maladaptive behavior is the direct cause-effect relationship between deviance and physical illness. Moreover, behavior is physiological and can result at anytime in a child's life. There are many instances when psychological factors seemingly result in physiological manifestations relative to psychosomatic illnesses, neurosis, hysteria, blindness, etc.


This perspective views the child and his physical well being as most important. Physiological disorders are due to many factors including, (1.) heredity, (2.) environmental factors which tends to affect development (e.g., drugs, chemicals, caffeine, smoking, etc.), (3.) accidental factors such as birth injuries, brain-injury, lead poisoning, etc.),  (4.) prenatal or postnatal diseases.


Intervention strategies stress:  (1.) obtaining a complete medical history on each child, (2.) using medication or psycho-stimulant drugs (e.g., Ritalin, Cylert) to control ADHD, or Dilantin, to control seizure disorders, (3.) Acknowledging and focusing on the child's physical limitations, and (4.)  using this approach with any of the other models, and recognizing that this is a non-judgmental approach, and that blame should not be directed toward the child, his family, the teacher, or his peers.




            (Back to the Top)




Learning Disability (LD)

This is an ephemeral to life-long disability which impairs processing, integrating, memorizing, and conceptualizing language, reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic. The disorder is manifested by physiological (neurological), psychological, or sensory-motor complications affecting visual, auditory, or tactile modalities. Individuals are usually average and above in intellectual functioning. In order to gain a better perspective of LD, it is important to know something about its history, etiology, assessment procedures, and also the educational and service options designed for remediation.


Historical Perspective of LD

While the term, "learning disabilities" (LD) was coined in 1962 by Samuel A. Kirk, the disorder has baffled scientist for generations. In 1868, Dr. Hughlings Jackson had already initiated research on speech and language deficiencies. Dr. Jackson, a neurologist, theorized that cerebral dominance was somehow related to speech disorders. He found that brain-damage affected speech, writing, and memory. His research influenced J. Hinshelwood (1917), Henry Head (1926), Kurt Goldstein (1927), Samuel T. Orton (1928), Grace Fernald (1934), Alfred A. Strauss, (1935), Heinz Werner (1939), Laura E. Lehtinen (1947), and Newell C. Kephart (1955). These early theorist recognized that many normal children were unable to learn, and they attributed the problem to brain-injury or visual impairment.


J. Hinshelwood, an ophthalmologist, believed that children who had reading deficiencies suffered from visual perceptual problems. He found that individuals who were able to read after receiving brain-injury forgot how to read and he called this condition, "alexia."


Head and Goldstein both conducted research on World War I soldiers and found that after the soldiers suffered brain injury, they lost many skills they possessed before entering the military. They postulated that the soldiers were now functioning as "dements" or "traumatic dements." Although their mental ability was not as serious as senile dementia, they had indeed lost the ability to function due to brain-damage. The results of this research pointed out that children who displayed similar problems should be categorized differently. It was posed that, if "dementia" is the lack of intelligence, then "amentia" is the loss of intelligence through trauma or brain-injury. This research paved the way for researchers to make the differentiation between mental deficiency (retardation) and learning disabilities caused by brain-injury.


Samuel T. Orton was a neurologist who conducted research on the brain with respect to language disorders and visual perception. Orton theorized that confusion relative to cerebral hemisphere dominance caused children to reverse symbols (letters, words, and numbers). He called this disorder "strephosymbolis," which means twisted symbols. Grace Fernald is famous for designing instructional strategies for LD children. In 1943, she developed a multi-sensory strategy which is now referred to as the Fernald Method, or the VAKT approach for teaching children to learn new words and enhance their vocabulary. Alfred Strauss, Werner, Lehtinen, and Kephart all made significant contributions to the field of learning disabilities with respect to brain-injury. In fact, Strauss is called by many the father of learning disabilities. Some of the contemporary LD leaders include Helmer Myklebust, B.J. Cratty, Raymond Barsch, Barbara Bateman, Marianne Frostig, Carl H. Delacato, and Glenn Doman.


Classification of Learning Disabilities

The etiology of LD is unknown, although arguments concerning neurological disorders have been discussed for over a century. In addition, psychological and sensory-motor factors are also associated with this equation. As a result, related factors could be many. Characteristics common to LD are vast and include problems with processing and conceptualizing information. Specific learning disabilities include reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia), math (dyscalculia), and language (dysphasia). Similarly, the same characteristics (terms) are applied to individuals who were once able to function in these areas. However, due to a brain injury they lost this ability, and thus, the prefix "a" is assigned to the disorder such as, reading (alexia), writing (agraphia), math (acalculia), language (aphasia), and memory (anomia).


Other characteristics of a learning disability include mixed dominance, directionality, laterality, perseveration, visual perceptual problems (e.g., eye-hand coordination, figure ground, etc.), auditory perceptual problems (inability to distinguish between two different sounds, inability to pick out a specific sound from background noise, etc.), attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), acting out-behavior, gross-motor problems using large muscles (e.g., running, jumping, hopping, skipping, kicking, catching, and throwing), and fine-motor problems using small muscles (e.g., writing, cutting, coloring, snapping, zipping, buttoning, folding, and lacing).


Assessing LD Students

Children with LD can improve with early identification, proper diagnosis, and structured remediation. Many of these children experience success in school and a large percentage even have success in college. However, children who are not identified early tend to be frustrated by the disorder and engage in maladaptive behavior as a means of coping with the condition.


A few of the popular instruments used for assessment include: the Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude (DTLA), Test of Language Development (TOLD), Purdue Perceptual-Motor Survey (PPMS), California Achievement Test (CAT), Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA), Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT), Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and the Woodcock Johnson Test of Cognitive Ability (WJ-R).


Careful diagnosis provides valuable information to teachers, parents, and school psychologists. Since children identified as LD are usually "normal," it is important to ascertain why they are not succeeding in school. After a complete assessment battery, the information obtained from the diagnosis will reveal the student's best modality for learning and understanding. Diagnosis will disclose strengths and weaknesses related to learning through visual, auditory, and tactile modes of instruction. This will allow teachers to develop lessons plans which emphasize visual aids (e.g., films, computers, and other mediums of instruction) that focus on visual stimulation for enhanced learning for children who are visual learners. This also applies to children identified as auditory or haptic learners as derived from assessment results.


Placement Options for LD Students

Traditionally, LD students are retained in the regular classroom even though they may be suffering from dyslexia. Children who have a specific learning disability in one area may very well be achieving at or above grade level in all other academic subjects. However, students with concurrent learning and behavior problems are usually assigned to special classrooms. In this instance, they are placed in an "educationally handicapped" (EH) classroom. The EH classroom is presently referred to as the "Special Day Class" (SDC). The SDC placement is designed for students described as having conduct and behavioral problems in addition to learning problems. Because LD and ED students share many of the same characteristics, the SDC concept was believed to be a logical placement. However, research show that this is not the case, as LD children with mild behavior problems tend to adopt some of the behavioral problems common to ED students.


Mental Retardation (MR)

A life-long disability distinguished by the inability to comprehend, process, or conceptualize information. Individuals are also characterized by immature socialization skills and a permanent dependency on others for survival and comfort. Of course, this definition depends chiefly on the range and the degree of retardation an individual is subjected to. In order to gain a better perspective of MR, it is important to know something about its history, etiology, assessment procedures, and educational and service options designed for remediation.


MR Historical Perspective

Prior to 1800, mental retardation was believed to be hereditary, and there was no way to treat it. Thus, many civilizations killed or simply ignored them until 1799, when Jean Itard made one of the first recorded attempts to educate the feebleminded.


Jean Marc Gaspard Itard (1774-1838) was born at Oraison in Provence, France and is called the father of Special Education because of his efforts on behalf of Victor, the wild boy of Aveyron. At the Institution for Deaf-Mutes in Paris, he directed his interests to the training and scientific study of the hearing and speech organs. In 1821, he published a treatise on the diseases of the ear, which was later regarded as the foundation of modern otology.


Edouard Onesimus Seguin (1812-1880) - was born at Clanlecy in Frallee, France. He studied medicine and surgery under Itard, who encouraged him to devote himself to the treatment of idiocy. In 1848, Seguin emigrated to the United States. By 1861, the medical department at the University of the City of New York granted him an MD degree. He was later contacted by Samuel Gridley Howe to help establish a school for the feeble-minded as he had done in Paris in 1837. In 1876, he and several others formed the Association of Medical Officers of American Institutions for Idiotic and Feeble-Minded Persons, now the American Association on Mental Deficiency (AAMD), and Seguin was chosen as its first president.


Around this time, Johann Jakob Guggenbuhl and John L. H. Down were also busy working as advocates for the retarded in Switzerland and Great Britain. Guggenbuhl, Johann Jakob ( 1816-1863) a Swiss physician is credited with establishing the first residential facility for the feeble-minded in 1842. He became world renown for his accomplishments.


Down, John Langdown Haydon (1828-1896) A British physician and one of the first to make a differentiation among types of mental defectives. He noticed that regardless of ethnicity, one particular type of mentally defective shared the same characteristics. He mentioned that if mental defectives were all placed side by side, it would be difficult to believe that these were not children of the same parents. In 1877, he published On Idiocy and Imbecility, considered the first medically oriented textbook on mental deficiency. His findings on classification led to the antiquated terms "mongoloid" and "Down's Syndrome."


Jean Esquirol (1772-1840) a French physician devoted much of his life working to the education and classification of the mentally retarded by using language as the principal criterion of differentiation. He suggested that the imbecile was one type of mental defective able to communicate verbally. He labeled three classes of idiots including, (1.) individuals who had a few words and very short simple sentences, (2.) individuals who were able to utter monosyllables and grunts  and,  (3.)  individuals without language.


During this period, the United States was also becoming involved in similar movements. U.S. initiatives were launched by Samuel Gridley Howe, Henry Goddard, Edgar Doll, and Lewis Terman to the subsequent treatment and education of the MR.


Classification of Mental Retardation

Throughout Europe, mentally defectives, as they were referred to, included two types, "idiots" and "imbeciles." By the mid 1800's in England, they were labeled "feebleminded" and "mentally subnormal." However, another mentally defective classification was identified through the arduous efforts of Alfred Binet and Theodore Simon with the development of their Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale. After translating the Binet-Simon scales from French to English to make it appropriate for American children, Goddard realized that another group of slow learners were being ignored for special education services.


In 1910, Goddard's new classification, "moron" (derived from the Greek word, "foolish") was accepted by the AAMD. This led to the establishment of three classifications of mental deficiency. The other two terms, 'idiot" was derived from the Greek word, "iditas," meaning "a private person" and "imbecile" was a French word meaning "weak." However, it took another generation for general agreement on a system to identify and classify individuals using intelligence tests.


This was made possible after David Wechsler developed the Wechsler Intelligence Scale for Children (WISC) in 1949. The WISC was the first scale to use the deviation IQ concept, which replaced the earlier ratio IQ scores by employing a standard score obtained from the mean score of 100 to represent a standard deviation (s.d.) of 15 IQ points. This advancement helped establish a differentiation between degrees of measured intelligence. But, due to the subsequent misuse of the IQ score to identify, label, and place children in special classrooms for the mentally retarded, the AAMD chose to recognize IQ ranges rather than specific IQ scores for classification.


Relying on the contributions of Wechsler for his WISC and Terman & Merrill for their revision of the Binet-Simon Intelligence Scale, the AAMD found that the IQ of 69 was established as the cut-off point for borderline defective. Since both Wechsler and Terman adopted standard deviations of 16 and 15 IQ points respectively, AAMD chose their method as well and implemented the s.d. of 15 IQ points for easier classification of measured intelligence levels. Thus, IQ is identified as follows by standard deviations (s.d.), IQ range, and classifications:




s.d. from
the Mean

IQ Range

Borderline Retarded (slow learner)


70 - 85

Educable Mentally Retarded - EMR (mild)


55 - 69

Trainable Mentally Retarded - TMR (moderate)


40 - 54

Severely Mentally Retarded - SMR (severe)


25 - 39

Profoundly Mentally Retarded - PMR (custodial)


0- 24




Classification and Projected Learning Potential


Educable Mentally Retarded - EMR (or mildly disabledIQ = 55 - 69 

The EMR performs at second to sixth grade achievement and have fair to good socialization skills, fair to excellent athletic ability, and will be self-supporting in many jobs, (e.g., craftsman, maintenance, mechanical, laborer etc. ).


Trainable Mentally Retarded - TRM (or moderately disabledIQ = 40 – 54

Self-help skills, vocational success in sheltered workshops and independent living centers, requires life-time supervision, 3rd grade achievement attainment in some cases.


Severely Mentally Retarded - SMR (or severely disabledIQ = 25 – 39

The SMR requires lifelong care and supervision, usually unable to be educated in the formal sense of the term.


Profoundly Mentally Retarded - PMR (or profoundly disabledIQ = 0- 24

The PMR are usually crib ridden and will require lifelong custodial supervision.


Moderate to Severe Mental Retardation

There are many factors which may result in mental retardation including, heredity, physiological, birth defects, etc. Some specific factors include: (1.) nutrition, (2.) drugs, (3.) alcohol, (4.) age of the mother, (5.) parity (birth spacing), (6.) birth injuries, (7.)  X- rays, (8.) Rubella, (9.) venereal diseases, and (10.) genetic factors. These factors result in mental retardation ranging from moderate to severe and include disorders classified as, cretinism, microcephalus, hydrocephalus, and Down's Syndrome.



A congenital disorder caused by a malfunctioning thyroid. This problem affects the thyroid hormone thyroxin which causes a secretion disruption. Infants afflicted with this disorder were susceptible during the prenatal stages of development. Thyroid problems can result from a number of conditions such as a serious lack of iodine in the diet, birth injuries, infectious diseases, and of course secretion dysfunctions.


Cretinism is manifested by brain damage, short thick body stature, large head, flat nose, prominent cheek bones, and thick eye lids, which give a sleepy appearance, dry scaly skin, thick broad hands, short thick neck, thick tongue, harsh-coarse voice, a protruding abdomen, thick black wiry hair, and poor gross-motor coordination. These individuals tend to walk in a shuffling fashion and have a measured IQ which tend to range anywhere from 25 to 54 or -4 standard deviations (s.d.) from the mean of 100.



Microcephalus means small-headedness, as children afflicted with this disorder have heads which do not exceed 17 inches in circumference as compared to the normal head size of 22 inches. This condition was misunderstood for decades, as most scientists initially believed that the disability was due largely in part to genetics, specifically to a recessive gene. Today, many other factors are associated with the disorder including prenatal maternal infections, excessive X-ray radiation, genetic, and most recently, fetal alcohol syndrome (FAS). In fact, there is an upsurge of births indicating a direct relationship to microcephalus and FAS, especially among Native-Americans residing on reservations.


This disability is manifested by a small head size which is cone shaped at the top of the skull, lower receding jaw bone, short palpebral fissures, and a poorly developed philtrum (the median groove between the upper lip and the nose), loose wrinkled scalp, small body stature, curved spine, poor posture, and poor motor-coordination. As a result, many young children identified with this dysfunction tend to hop around, walking like a monkey. Their reported IQ's as measured by the WISC or the Stanford-Binet, tend to range from 40 to 54, which is -3 standard deviations (s.d.) from the mean of 100.



Hydrocephalus is a disorder characterized by a very large head which tends to exceed 30 inches in circumference as compared to the normal head size of 22 inches. The etiology is related to a defect in the normal flow of cerebrospinal fluid which circulates throughout the head. However, a dysfunctional valve prevents the fluid from draining off, thus resulting in the enlargement of the skull and deterioration of the brain from the pressure of the cerebrospinal fluid. However, a surgical procedure involving the introduction of a shunt has proven to be effective in correcting the defective valve by decreasing the cranial pressure and draining off excess cerebrospinal fluid. The size of the head will remain large if the procedure was not performed in time.


Children identified as hydrocephalic are characterized by widespread eyes due to the size of the face, flat nose bridge, normal size body stature, poor motor-coordination, visual impairment, and severe mental retardation. In cases where surgery was successful, it has been shown that intellectual deficiencies were limited. Their reported IQ's as measured by the WISC or the Stanford-Binet, may range from 25 to 54, which is -4 standard deviations (s.d.) from the mean of 100.


Mongolism (Down's Syndrome)

The category, moderate retardation, is largely represented by individuals identified as mongoloid or having Down's Syndrome. The terms mongoloid, Down's or Trainable Mentally Retarded (TMR) are antiquated and no longer acceptable.  People falling into this phylum are referred to as individuals with moderate disabilities. Factors which have been shown to be related to this disorder include (1.) prenatal maternal infections, (2.) excessive X-ray radiation, (3.) genetics, (4.) parity [e.g., birth spacing “having too many children to close in age], (5.) nutrition, (6.) Rubella, (7.)  mother's age, (8.)  birth injuries, (9.)  venereal diseases, and (11. drug/alcohol use.


Individuals identified as Down's are characterized by an Asian appearance with slanted eyes, which are usually inflamed; hence, the term mongoloid emanated. They also have small teeth, a thick fissured tongue which is often protruding from a small mouth and which causes labored breathing, a short thick neck, short wide flat hands and feet, sparse fine straight hair, a congenital heart disorder, short stocky stature, brain damage due a skull which is too small and flat and thus crushes the brain during early fetal development, a small chin, poor fine and gross-motor coordination, speech disorders, a mental age which does not exceed 12, an IQ which ranges from 40 to 54, or -3 standard deviations from the mean and, general overall poor health.


Children afflicted with Down's syndrome are the product of a defective chromosome resulting in either one extra or one chromosome shy of the necessary 23. Since this is genetic disorder, its highly likely that future off-spring from parents suffering from Down's will probably be retarded as well. Reports show that one in every 650 live births results in moderate retardation. One of the more interesting factors associated TMR is the age of the mother. Research has long indicated that the age of women during pregnancy influence opportunities for mentally retarded children. An example of this phenomenon is evidence by the following illustration depicting the prevalence of retardation by the mother's age as follows:


Probability of MR Child Based on Mother’s Age

Ages -  16 to 20 = 1 in 2,000

Ages -  21 to 25 = 1 in 1,500

Ages -  26 to 30 = 1 in 1,000

Ages -  31 to 35 = 1 in 750

Ages -  36 to 44 = 1 in 150

Ages -  45 to 48 = 1 in 37

Ages -  49 and older = 1 in 12


Since both the measured MA and IQ of the TMR is subnormal, moderately retarded children are not educable in the formal sense of the term. Of course, they are capable of learning but not in a real sense of being able to comprehend, and conceptualize abstract stimuli. While they are capable of limited memorization, their reading ability consists largely of rote recall of simple words similar to the words common to the Dolch Basic Sight Vocabulary List of 220 sight words.


Moderately retarded children are quite capable of mastering self and life care skills, including grooming/hygiene, toileting, and safety comprehension. However, they are and always will be highly immature and vulnerable to deception and mistreatment from nondisabled adolescents and adults because of their fixed MA and inability to mature. Therefore, they will require life long adult supervision and protection. However, there are always exceptions to the rule, and there are some very isolated instances where TMR children have accomplished more than what is normally expected, but again, this is exceeding rare.


Individuals identified as moderately retarded suffer from both physical and mental under development. During the early developmental milestones they are highly susceptible to ailments such as colds, influenza, pneumonia, respiratory disorders, ear infections and many others physiological complications. In the past, some were neglected and sometimes denied medical treatment and they died as a result. This was common practice before the early 1900's because some parents did not want the burden and responsibility of caring for a retarded child the rest of their lives.


Children identified as TMR will certainly profit from mainstreaming in specific situations such as art, physical education, music, or any other activities where cognitive ability is unnecessary for success. On the other hand, full inclusion is not advised as a placement option, as this approach will only serve to frustrate and polarize the TMR from his normal classroom counterparts. The full inclusion concept should be thoroughly reviewed to ascertain which students with disabilities will better profit from this approach. Despite what some of the research indicate, full inclusion is not intended for all disabled students.


Since the passage of PL 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children's Act (EAHCA), all reported cases of children identified as TMR have been enrolled in public schools. Prior to the passage of EAHCA, many children were excluded from public schools and placed in institutions and hospitals. Many TMR children were excluded from public schools if they were not toilet trained. Thus, large numbers were forced to stay home and simply watch television. Children who were more fortunate had an opportunity to work in a sheltered workshop.


Here, the TMR received a chance to earn a salary by doing simple tasks such as painting, sorting, constructing, boxing various goods, and other tasks which are not cognitively demanding. TMR employees are expected to punch a time clock and be responsible for clocking in and out for work. Those who fail to comply are penalized by being docked allotted time. The sheltered workshop setting also provides an excellent opportunity to develop socialization skills. This is extremely important since these individuals have a mental age which will not exceed twelve. This means that the majority of TMR individuals will always be dependent upon someone. This is true even in cases where independent living centers have been established.


The independent living center is an apartment like complex consisting of individual housing units for TMR's to live in. While the criteria for participation varies by communities, it is usually held that the applicant must be TMR, 21 years of age, gainfully employed, and have permission from parents or legal guardians. Although this situation simulates actual apartment living, it must be managed by a non retarded caretaker and must be supervised 24 hours a day. However, this is an ideal option for individuals who are more mature and responsible to live somewhat on their own.


Mildly Mentally Retarded:

Up to now, every level of mental retardation was characterized by one profound distinction - physical appearance. People identified as moderate to profoundly retarded just look different. This includes facial and bodily appearance. They all tend to attract attention when they are out in the public causing people to sometimes stare at them. Even young children are aware and curious about their odd appearance and will often stop and point at them because they simply look different. Because of this one significant factor, many professionals reject the mentally retardation label as presently associated with students with mild disabilities.


For the most part, mildly retarded children do not look as though they are retarded. In fact, they are not even identified until they began experiencing failure in school, because they do not possess distinctive physical characteristics. However, they do have some other interesting commonalties, they tend to be products of low income SES depressed families and a disproportionate number tend to be ethnic minorities (African-American, Hispanic, Native-American, Puerto Rican-American). Historically, the early pioneers recognized this factor and labeled the condition cultural-familial retardation. This implied that the retardation was common to children from lower socioeconomic status (SES) and if more than one child in the family was also mentally retarded. This classification is also common to ethnic minority members. Usually, there are several children from the same household who are identified as mildly educable mentally retarded (EMR).


Today, the etiology resulting in mild retardation is linked to cultural deprivation. This implies that these children come from homes where education is not stressed. Usually the parents are unemployed, poorly educated, and highly unmotivated. Parents who reside in large metropolitan cities are more likely to be involved in alcohol and drug abuse. Therefore, children from dysfunctional households have not been exposed to the same kinds of experiences children from middle and upper income families have. Thus, education is solely unimportant and secondary. Because of the poor conditions in which they live, these children have to devote their energy toward surviving. They grow up faster and are more apt to be street wise. Very early on, they learn how to manipulate their classmates. They are more likely to be hostile and aggressive through no fault of their own, but due to the conditions in their environment.


EMR's are also at-risk as future school drop-outs, even though they possess the mental capacity for school success. Some are capable of college success with proper attention and academic preparation. But, the majority tend to fall well behind other children academically. Individuals who are unsuccessful in school tend to blend back into society after they drop-out of school. They can be successful in any employment situation where cognitive ability is unessential. Since EMR children can be educated, they are much better served by mainstreaming and full inclusion. In fact, they are the best candidates for full inclusion as are children identified as emotionally disturbed and learning disabled. They are also prone to forget material almost as soon as it is learned. Therefore, the classroom teacher is often frustrated by the constant task of re-teaching the same lessons repeatedly. Although EMR children are intellectually slow with a measured IQ, which ranges from 55 to 69, they have the ability to perform much better than the scores show.


The measured IQ results for ethnic minorities tend to be lower than their white counterparts. But, the scores are simply not representative, since the IQ tests were normed on white middle class subjects. Psychological tests are evaluated by the soundness of their validity and reliability. Researchers need to be convinced that a given test is consistently measuring what it purports to measure.


In defining validity, it is often stated that the validity of a test rests on its ability to measure something related to the group of subjects on which it was normed. Thus, psychological tests should only be used on subjects from the normative sample pool to obtain valid results. However, this practice has been totally ignored since Binet and Simon developed the first intelligence scale in 1905. Even though all of the children from the normative sample of the Binet-Simon scales were French children, the test has been adopted and used throughout the world. Similarly, all of the children included in the standardization process of the WISC were white American children as well.


MR Assessment Procedures

In order to provide optimal education and treatment for MR students, it is essential to obtain a comprehensive profile of their cognitive, affective, and psychomotor development and performance. After the initial diagnosis of intelligence (WISC or Stanford-Binet), academic achievement tests are used to ascertain the approximate grade level of performance. Some of the most frequently used tests include: Detroit Tests of Learning Aptitude (DTLA), Test of Language Development (TOLD), California Achievement Test (CAT), Kaufman Test of Educational Achievement (KTEA), Stanford Achievement Test (SAT), Peabody Individual Achievement Test (PIAT), Wide Range Achievement Test (WRAT), and the Woodcock Johnson Test of Cognitive Ability (WJ-R).


These instruments provide a wide range of information relative to the student's best modality for learning and understanding. Test results reveal strengths and weaknesses related to learning through visual, auditory, and tactile modes of instruction. After analyzing tests results, teachers are able to develop lessons plans which emphasize visual aids, films, computers, and other mediums of instruction and which focus on visual stimulation for children identified as visual learners (as distinguished through assessment). Auditory learners are assisted through tape recordings, talking books, computers, and other approaches employed to take advantage of hearing strengths. Tactile or haptic learners need to handle and manipulate the stimuli for optimal success. Activities involving building, examining, and touching are necessary to facilitate learning.


Litigation and Legislation Issues

Prior to the passage of P.L. 94-142, The Education of All Handicapped Children's Act of 1975, MR students enrolled in public schools experienced an array of placement options. But, too many were denied public education. During the 1930's and 1940's, MR students were often placed in regular classrooms until special classrooms were available. During the 1950's and early 1970's, MR students were primarily placed in special classrooms. However, many were poorly diagnosed and labeled unfairly, due to the cultural biased intelligence tests. This practice resulted in litigation and the subsequent legislation of laws enacted to protect the rights of students with disabilities.


P.L. 94-142 ensured that disabled learners were protected from unfair diagnosis by requiring that all assessments must be conducted by an administrator from the student's background; IQ assessment would no longer be the sole criterion for identification and placement; students must be educated in the least restrictive environment; all disabled students are entitled to a free public education, and students who are not able to profit from a public school experience may be educated at home; parents are encouraged to attend the individualized educational program (IEP) meetings; parents have a right to consent to special classroom placement; parents have rights to records and also to due process.


Education and Remediation for EMR Students

Individuals classified as students with mild disabilities or Educable Mentally Retarded (EMR) are mainstreamed into regular classrooms, especially since the passage of P.L. 94-142, the Education of All Handicapped Children Act, 1975 (EAHCA) and the subsequent P.L. 101-476 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 1990 (IDEA '90) and P.L. 105-17 Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, 1997 (IDEA '97). The initial law P.L. 94-142 indicated that all handicapped children must be educated in the least restrictive environment, which included general classrooms whenever possible. It usually takes EMR children between one and half to two full years to learn the same material that a normal student of the same CA learns in a single year. In addition, the EMR student will experience greater memory loss of the learned material at a much faster rate than his general classroom counterpart. Because of this characteristic, some classroom teachers are more apt to become frustrated and simply give up on EMR students. Remediation involves many techniques and approaches, which include individualized instruction, individual attention, cooperative learning strategies, use of manipulatives, concrete hands on assignments, creative and stimulating visual aids, tape recordings, films, and computer instructional media.



            (Back to the Top)















Advantages and Disadvantages of Five Reading Strategies

Reading Strategy




1. Shared Reading

The teacher reads aloud while students follow along using individual copies of a book, a class chart, or a big book.

1.      Students have access to books they could not read independently.

2.      Teachers model fluent reading.

3.      Teachers model reading strategies.

4.      A community of readers is developed.

1.                                          Multiple copies, a class chart, or a big book version of the text is needed.

2.                                          Text may not be appropriate for all students.

3.                                          Some students may not be interested in the text.


2. Guided Reading


Teacher supports students as they read texts at their reading levels. Students are grouped homogeneously.

1.              Teachers provide directions and scaffolding.

2.              Students practice reading strategies.

3.              Students read independently.

4.              Students practice the prediction cycle.

1.  Multiple copies of the text  

     are needed.

2.  Teachers control the

reading experience.

3.  Some students may not be 

     interested in the text.

3. Independent Reading

Students read a text independently and often select the text themselves.

1.              Students develop respon-sibility and ownership.

2.              Students self-select texts.

3.              Readers have a more authentic experience.


1.                  Students may need assistance to read the text.

2.                  Teachers have little involvement or control.


4. Buddy Reading

Two students read or reread a text together.

1.      Students are encouraged to collaborate.

2.      Student reread familiar texts.

3.      Students develop reading fluency.

4.      Students talk about texts to deepen comprehension.

1.                  Teachers involvement and control are limited.

2.                  One student may depend on the other to do the reading.


5. Reading Aloud to


Teacher or other fluent reader reads aloud to students.

1.              Students have access to books they could not read independently.

2.              Teachers model fluent reading.

3.              Teachers model reading strategies.

4.              A community of readers is developed.

5.              Only one copy of the text is required

1.                  Students have no oppor-tunity to read.

2.                  Text may not be appro-priate for some students.

3.                  Some students may not be interested in the text.

                             From Gail E. Tompkins, Language Arts: Content & Teaching Strategies, 2002



            (Back to the Top)











Website designed (June 25, 2002) by: George Calhoun Jr., Ph.D.


Last update: October 10, 2007