+ Improve Abstract Reasoning: Strategies

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These strategies work for all students with abstract reasoning challenges, but I found them in a book: “School Success for Kids With  Asperger’s  Syndrome,” by Stephen M. Silverman and Rich Weinfeld.

  • Break down the lesson’s goal into its component parts; provide supportsExplicitly teach new vocabulary.  Review (or teach) skills needed to complete the lesson.  Break down the key idea into concepts that build on each another.
  • Utilize “naturalistic” or incidental instructionNaturalistic instruction emphasizes accepting spontaneous partial responses even if they aren’t complete.  Evaluate  for understanding of key concepts/actions/vocabulary.  Ask  open-ended questions.  Encourage higher order thinking through questioning.
  • Provide appropriate accommodations as you instruct — Build in the types of supports your students  need.  Repeat small units, and all levels and types of prompts.  Pre-teach new concepts/vocabulary ahead of group instruction.  Reduce the field of choices; offer tangible reinforcements. You can model responses.  Use guided practice as well as re-teaching.  Individualize accommodations, and gradually fade them out.   
  • Adapt the way you teach the lessonPresent information in such a way that students can demonstrate their understanding — for example, use visuals, videos, plays, DVDs or diagrams.  Try graphic organizers for recording key points and making abstract connections.  Make learning hands-on.  Use spatial or musical patterns to emphasize your words.
  •    Provide explicit instruction to ensure understanding of the conceptDon’t assume students automatically understand the goal.  State explicitly the concept being taught, and explain the importance of each learning activity.  Make sure they see the forest as well as the trees.
  • Move from specifics to generalizationsSome students do best with inductive reasoning; they move most easily from the parts to the whole.  Begin with specifics; gradually move to generalizations.  Offer a unifying theme to help students find the commonality in all the pieces of information they have learned.  Never assume they will make this intellectual leap without explicitly seeing connections.
  • Offer alternative ways for students to demonstrate understanding, allowing them to use their strengthsRemember there are different, yet equally acceptable, ways for students to demonstrate understanding.  Visual learners may produce a project, diagram or slideshow; auditory learners may give an oral explanation.  Methods of testing (after an activity is completed) might include brief oral or written summaries of what they learned.  Or break down questions to elicit one piece of specific information.  Or let students develop their own strategies and even help them to do so.

source: “School Success for Kids With Asperger’s Syndrome,” by Stephen Silverman & Rich Weinfeld.  Prufrock Press, ISBN 10:1-59363-215-0.

tutoring in Columbus OH:   Adrienne Edwards 614-579-6021  or email aedwardstutor@columbus.rr.com


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