Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with
Learning Disabilities
April 2011
Table of Contents
General Guidelines
Teaching the Seven Key Components
Basic Understanding
Bridging Text and Context
Analysis and Interpretation
Post Reading
Summative Assessment
Scaffolding for Teaching How to Answer Questions
Getting Ready for the Bagrut Exam
Completing Tasks
Logistics for doing the Log
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
Part A: General guidelines for planning literature lessons, taking into account
students with special needs.
Scheduling: Teach a unit of literature in consecutive lessons. Try to keep the teaching of the unit as
uninterrupted as possible (including vacations, trips, special activities, exams, etc.)
Unit Graphic Organizer (UGO): The purpose of the UGO (in the toolbox file for Students with LDs) is
to map the entire unit visually. The teacher may use the UGO, prior to teaching, together with the
Unit Planner, to organize all of the Key Components and other elements of the unit on one page. It
can be used by your students while working on the text. You can fill it in together, as you work
through the text, so that they can graphically see the connections between the different elements
of the literature unit they are learning. The UGO is also helpful for reviewing.
Unit Graphic Organizer (UGO)
Analysis and
Analysis and
Analysis and
Literary terms
Pre-Reading Activity
Bridging Text and Context
Summary of Events
Post-Reading Activity
Date: (time and place):
Before teaching a literature text: In the first step in planning the unit of work, spend time
considering what your students will need in order to be able to understand, analyze and appreciate
the text. It is recommended that you prepare notes relating to the difficult parts of the piece that
may need supplementary explanation and plan how to scaffold those parts when teaching your
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
Examples of difficulties: Reading the name “Ozymandias”; the use of a dialect in the text; the issue
of prohibition in the 1920’s; or a setting that is very foreign to them (i.e. a cruise ship and why cabins
had to be shared for “Mr. Know All”)
General Suggestions
1. Teachers may choose to pre-teach the targeted higher-order thinking skill (HOTS) for this piece
of literature through other activities in their classroom. Doing this will enable your students to
already be familiar with the HOTS when they start to work on the literary text. Spiral the HOTS
as often as possible.
Example: Teaching the HOTS with a reading comprehension text from the course book, and
incorporating it in other activities in your classroom before the literature unit has begun. For
more ideas see the webcast on the TLC site (Thinking through Literature and Culture) about
Incorporating HOTS Instruction in Your Classroom Practices.
2. Never assume that previously taught material will still be remembered well enough by students
for active use.
3. Recycle (spiral) the vocabulary learned while reading the text. The more review, the better the
retention. You can use any of the following:
 Repeat : oral repetition of the things that you want students to remember.
 Recycle: re-introduction of information in a different way.
 Re-enter: re-teaching and review what you have already taught.
All of these should include active production by the students.
4. Find connections (hooks) between the text and the students’ previous knowledge and/or skills.
Relate back to previously taught content and re-enter (spiral) literary terms and HOTS in order
to activate their previous knowledge and in order to give the literary text meaning for the
5. Make connections between the characters, emphasize the relationships between them. Point
out important events that involve the connections between the characters.
6. Reading aloud to the students with learning disabilities is IMPERATIVE. Students should be
encouraged to listen to the text as many times as possible. There are recordings of all of the
literature texts of the test options on the TLC site. If you do the Log, you should record the texts
for your students or find them recorded online.
7. Remember when assessing your students’ work that the emphasis is more on content than on
accuracy. See the rubrics in the Literature Handbook.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
8. Taking into account that students with learning disabilities often have difficulty writing, support
them by:
a. using guided writing models, graphic organizers and templates. Examples of various GOs
(including the ones discussed here) can be found on the TLC site.
b. encouraging your students to use their learned vocabulary
c. providing language structures that can be used
d. using multisensory aids (e.g. GO with hand. See below.)
Example: Five Finger Kinesthetic Memory Cues
Turning Point
Additional ideas and examples of Five Finger Kinesthetic Memory Cues can be found in the
Toolbox for Students with Learning Disabilities and on the TLC site.
8. It is worthwhile to get through the first reading of a poem in one day so they can get a general
understanding of the poem. Then in subsequent lessons, go through a more detailed reading, in
order to start analyzing and interpreting the poem.
9. For longer texts begin each lesson with a recap of what has happened so far in the story/play.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
10. Vocabulary words should be divided into three categories:
High frequency
Words specific to
the text
Low frequency
These words should
be taught.
These words can be
pre-taught to ensure
while reading.
These words can be
Example 1
For the “Road Not
Taken”: travel and
For the “Road Not
Taken”: diverge and
For the “Road Not
Taken”: trodden
Example 2
In “A Summer’s
In “A Summer’s
Reading”: respect
In ”A Summer’s
Reading”: urge
11. After completing two or three literary texts, and when appropriate, tie them together and
review with your class. Students may use their previously completed UGOs, adding
memorable details (triggers) about the texts as you go along.
Example: Mr. Know All: Setting - on a ship. Important details: pearls, people and prejudices.
Here is another GO that can help your students remember and make connections:
Title/People/ Place/Triggers (TPPT)
Mr. Know All
Mr. Kelada
a passenger ship
pearls, people
A Summer’s
George and Mr.
Poor neighborhood dropping out of
in New York City
school, lying,
reading books
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
12. Focus on the main points/events/themes that you want your students to remember.
Emphasizing the less significant details will confuse them, and dilute their focus.
Example: Students must know that in All My Sons, Larry is missing in action or that Chris takes a
stand against his father. They don’t have to remember how many pilots went down as a result of
the cracked cylinder heads.
13. Not all students in your class MUST do the same amount of tasks and in the same way. You
can decide what is appropriate for your students with learning disabilities.
Example: A student with writing disabilities could prepare a PowerPoint presentation, an oral
presentation, fill in a chart or do something creative instead of a written composition, that reflects
the same level of understanding and analysis.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
Part B: Teaching the Seven Key Components to Students with Learning Disabilities
These suggestions emphasize the needs of students with learning disabilities and provide practical
suggestions as to how to help them succeed.
I. Suggestions According to Key Components:
A. Component: Pre-reading Activity
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
Provide background information that is necessary for understanding the literal meaning of
the text (See “Bridging Text and Context” component below).
2. Introduce the central theme and introduce an activity that enables the students to connect
to the theme in some way.
3. Brainstorm and/or provide thematically-related vocabulary that will lead your students to
the text or the theme. (To determine which vocabulary you want to be sure is included at
this point refers to #10 in Part A in this document.)
Example: For the poem “Count That Day Lost”:
a) Describe a day which was a waste of time.
b) How do you know that your day was meaningful?
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
Use of audio and visual prompts will provide additional memorable, thematic, concrete triggers
(picture, YouTube, props, etc.).
Example: For the short story “Mr. Know All”: Bring in the boarding scene from the movie “The
Titanic” or photos of what a cruise ship looks like.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
B. Component: Basic Understanding
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
Teach high-frequency vocabulary that are important for understanding the story; gloss lowfrequency vocabulary.
Recycle, review and re-enter names and relationships of the characters. Review the setting
and recall main events.
When possible, include pictures of what the characters and settings might look like (either
teacher provided or student drawn).
Ask questions which relate directly to each character:
 Who is the character? What did he do? What did he say?
 End the Basic Understanding component by:
o reviewing the setting, characters and main events of the story.
o reviewing, recycling, and re-entering high frequency vocabulary that has been
taught using a variety of tasks.
In longer texts, each chunk must include an entire Basic Understanding component (dialect,
vocabulary, questions).
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
Provide titles for parts/chunks of the story to hint about what is going to happen in the next
2. When providing pictures, label the low-frequency vocabulary items in addition to glossing.
An example of such a picture used for “Split Cherry Tree” can be found on the TLC site.
Example: For the short story “The Split Cherry Tree”, you can title the chunks as follows:
a) Dave’s punishment at school
b) His return home to Pa
c) Dave and Pa go to meet Mr. Herbert at school
d) Pa has a day at Dave’s school
e) Pa and Dave sweep up and go home
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
C. Component: Bridging Text and Context
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
1. This component is extremely important for Basic Understanding as well as for successful
Analysis and Interpretation.
2. Bridging Text and Context is a “floating” component. It can be taught anywhere you feel it is
relevant in the process of teaching the piece of literature, and as often as deemed necessary.
3. Do NOT take any prior knowledge for granted.
4. Sometimes more than one bridging aspect is required to understand the text.
5. The more relevant the background information, the better the students will learn and
remember the text and its messages (See example below).
6. Provide the information for Bridging Text and Context. If students are sent to find relevant
information, guiding instructions must be provided. Ensure that the length and level of the
material is appropriate for your students. Be sure that the bridging material is something that
will help students connect between the “known” and the “unknown”.
7. If you have the technical capability in your classroom, take advantage of YouTube clips when
relevant to provide contextual and multisensory information.
8. Keep the information relevant to the text:
 author’s background
 historical information
 cultural information
 social information
(See examples below)
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
1. The information provided does not have to be text-based. It can also be graphic or audio. Make
it come alive. Use different media. Do not rely only on the printed word.
2. Providing the information is of prime importance for students with LD.
3. Some students will need more guidance and scaffolding than others.
Example of information that is relevant: In “Mr. Know All” it is important to provide enriching
information about pearls, transatlantic ship travel, prohibition, and the British Empire.
Example of author’s background information: The fact that Pearl Buck’s parents were missionaries
is NOT relevant to the understanding of “The Enemy”, whereas her knowledge of the Far East IS.
Example of historical information: Knowledge of rural America during the Great Depression is
central to understanding “The Split Cherry Tree”. Knowing who the president of the US was at the
time is NOT.
Example of cultural information: In "The Split Cherry Tree”, understanding the concept of what a
dialect is and its connection to social status are important. Learning to produce the dialect itself is
NOT necessary.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
D. Component: Analysis and Interpretation
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
It is probably best to try out different methodologies of teaching the HOTS to see which suits
your class best.
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
1. It is highly recommended to identify the most effective methodology for your class or for your
students with LD and use as often as necessary.
2. Students with LD need more help organizing the details of a text in order to answer higherorder thinking questions. The scaffolding for this necessitates some LOTS questions that will
guide them to find the details that they need in order to organize the answer for the higherorder questions.
Example: In order to understand the proverb “If you spare the rod you spoil the child” which
appears in the story “The Split Cherry Tree”, we break down the question as follows:
What do you think this means?
Who says this?
To whom does he say this?
Explain why he says it.
Is there a similar expression in your mother tongue?
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
E. Component: Post-reading Activity
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
Ensure that several options for this component are available and that these take into
consideration both the students' understanding of the text and the different learning styles and
intelligences which characterize your students.
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
This component offers the students the opportunity to make connections with the text(s) and
their own experiences. It allows for self-expression and creative responses in light of having
read and analyzed the text. When a written response is required for the rest of your class,
students with LD should be allowed to submit other modes of presentation.
Example: For the poem “Introduction to Poetry” here are some examples of Post-Reading
Option 1: Draw a comic strip of the poem. Describe the poem in pictures, the way you imagine
them. The strip should be at least 8-10 frames.
Option 2: Create a PowerPoint presentation of the poem.
Use the images you had in your mind when you first heard the poem (similar to the YouTube clip
we saw only with your own interpretation). The presentation should have at least 10 slides.
Option 3: Give a speech. You are the poem. How do you feel about how people try to
understand you, as opposed to how you would like to be understood? At least 80 words.
Option 4: Describe orally how poetry can be taught. Make a recording explaining which way you
would prefer to read and analyze poetry. At least 80 words.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
F. Component: Reflection
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
Activities for Reflection encourage students to articulate their thoughts about what they
have learned and their thinking process.
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
According to research, reflection is especially important for students with LD in order to help
them process and remember what they have done in the unit of work. In addition, reflecting on
the learning of the HOTS and how it can be used in various situations, strengthens their ability to
use the skill and gives the student great confidence in her/his ability to successfully use the skill
in other areas of her/his life. That confidence of success motivates the student to use the skill
more in his studies as well as in more areas of her/his life.
However, students with LD often write the minimum, and may be limited in their vocabulary
and language skills, especially when it comes to writing. As a result, in a reflection task it may be
difficult for the teacher to really know what the student is thinking. This is a wonderful
opportunity for the teacher to encourage students to reflect orally, to have a conversation, and
to ask questions directly related to the students’ reflections on the text, the HOTS and the
students’ learning processes.
a. Prepare a list of questions to guide their answers.
b. Scaffold to elicit their answers.
c. For the four-point students with LD, responses in their mother tongue may be acceptable.
Example: Possible questions to guide their answers:
a) How did learning the poem with the different components help you better understand
the poet’s message?
b) How did learning the HOTS of Explaining Patterns help you better understand why the
poet used this rhyme scheme?
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
Example of scaffolding (guided writing) for Reflection:
I enjoyed/ did not enjoy reading _____________________ (title of text) because
______________________________________________ and because
We studied the HOTS called ___________________________________. We
learned the HOTS by _______________________________________________.
This thinking skill is useful because _____________________________________
The thinking skill helped me understand ____________________________
about the text.
I can also use the HOTS __________________________(name of HOTS) when I
_____________________________________ or when I
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
G. Component: Summative Assessment
Suggestions relevant for teaching all students:
This component provides the students with the opportunity to demonstrate their knowledge,
understanding and interpretation of the text, including the specific HOTS studied. Summative
Assessment allows all of our students to review and process all of the information they have
learnt for this unit of work.
1. In order to prepare students for the Summative Assessment, it is a good idea to review,
recycle and re-enter what was taught in the unit, whether in the same way it was originally
taught or in other ways.
2. The teacher can prepare a Trivia game, or a memory game asking questions about the text,
or simply retell the story - possibly stopping to have the students fill in the missing details.
(This is especially helpful for your auditory students).
a. Review the basic ideas of the theme and the interpretation of the text with the students,
because remembering abstract concepts may be difficult for some students.
b. Do a “who said to whom” activity.
c. Give parts of the story, have the students fill in what is missing.
d. Sequence the main events of the literary text.
Additional suggestions for students with LD:
Teacher intervention is vital to enable students with LD to have the opportunity to successfully
synthesize everything that has been learned. It is not easy for the students with LD to
remember all of the information that was learned and therefore the more review they have, the
The following are some suggestions for teachers to help the students with LD prepare for the
Summative Assessment:
a. Make connections between the characters.
b. Suggest different tips for organizing and studying material.
c. Help make connections between pieces if you are testing more than one piece of
literature at a time.
d. Remember not to overload on details. Prioritize and put an emphasis on the most
important ones.
e. Use mnemonic memory tips and kinesthetic memory strategies (i.e. multisensory
teaching) for some of the details. This will help students on the Bagrut exam as well.
Example: Use the UGO graphic organizer and other mind maps or graphics to help them
organize their information and make connections between characters and events.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
II. Scaffolding for Answering Questions for the Exam or for the Log
A. Basic Understanding (LOTS):
Example question from Mock D exam about “A Summer’s Reading”: What does Mr. Cattanzara
usually do after work?
Procedure for student:
1. Be sure to understand every word in the question and the question itself.
a. Understand what the question is asking you to do.
b. What information is needed in order to answer the question?
2. This question is asking the students to understand and remember the details from the text
of what Mr. Cattanzara does after work. (Note to teacher: In other words, information
requiring basic understanding must be reviewed repeatedly during the teaching process. )
 What do you know about what Mr. Cattanzara does? Where does he go, what does
he do, and what does he see?
 Possible acceptable answers (can answer one or more of the following):
 Reads the newspaper: The New York Times
 Reads the newspaper from the first page to the last page
 Sits on a stoop
 Sits in his undershirt
B. Analysis and Interpretation (with Justification):
Example question from Mock D exam about “A Summer’s Reading”:
a. What did Mr. Cattanzara mean when he said, “George, don’t do what I did.”?
Thinking skill I chose: ________________________________________.
(10 points)
b. Explain why you chose this skill
(5 points)
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
Procedure for student for answering Analysis question with Justification:
1. Make sure you understand every word in the question and the question itself.
2. Understand what information and explanation you need to provide in order to answer the
3. What information do you need in order to answer the question?
Example question: What did Mr. Cattanzara mean when he said, “George, don’t do what I
You need to remember:
 Who Mr. Cattanzara is (Mr. C. is a neighbor whom George likes.)
 Who George is (George is an unemployed teenager who has dropped out of school.)
 When he said this to George (Mr. Cattanzara said this to George after he - Mr. Cattanzara
- came home drunk one night. He asked George to name one book he had read, but
George could not do so, since he had not read any.)
 What he is referring to (that George was not doing what he had promised; in other
words reading or doing something with his life.
 Why he is saying it (he feels that George is making the same mistake in his life as he –
Mr. C – did.)
Scaffolding how to answer the Analysis and Interpretation question with Justification:
In order to be able to answer these questions successfully, teacher modeling for the first couple of
times is imperative. After that, student practice will ensure successful answering of this type
of question.
Sample teacher modeling:
1. Look at the list of thinking skills
2. Decide which thinking skill will best help you to answer the question. Think of a reason
why this would be a good skill to choose. Remember: there is never only ONE correct answer.
3. Answer the question using the thinking skill you chose.
4. Explain why you chose it.
Sample Procedure:
1. Thinking skill I want to use: Comparing and Contrasting
2. I answer the question:
Mr. Cattanzara didn’t continue his education, even though he was a person who read all the
time. Because of this he feels that he cannot succeed in life. He doesn’t want the same thing
to happen to George. He wants George to use his potential, go back to school and make
something of himself.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
3. My justification for Comparing and Contrasting:
Comparing and Contrasting: I chose this skill because I compared the way Mr. Cattanzara
looked at his own life and the way I think George’s life will be. Mr. Cattanzara is trying to help
George not make the same mistakes that he made.
Note: With the same answer, the student could have also chosen two other thinking skills.
Here are the justifications for them:
Distinguishing Different Perspectives: I chose this skill because I know that Mr. Cattanzara is
looking at life as a grown-up and not as a teenager like George. Each of them sees life from a
different perspective and Mr. Cattanzara wants George to learn from his own grown-up point
of view.
Uncovering Motives: I chose this skill because I tried to understand what would make Mr.
Cattanzara say such a thing to George. I think he is unhappy with the way his life is, and
because he likes George, he wants to try to stop George from making the same mistakes he
(Mr. Cattanzara) did.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
III. Getting ready for the Bagrut Exam
Remember: Everyone forgets! Remember: Everyone loses things, especially from year to year.
Remember that as teachers we have to help our students remember to remember. SO:
1. Have an organized list of all the literary pieces that have been studied. Post it online and
give your students a hard copy.
2. Have at least a few extra copies of each of the work pages and instructions of tasks you have
assigned for the units, in case the students have lost theirs. Alternatively you can email these
to your students.
3. Review the HOTS you have taught. Give out a list of the HOTS and remind them of the
triggers you used to teach them, in which text they were explicitly taught and how they were
applied to that specific text.
4. For EACH of the literary texts, an additional story map should be filled in again, when you
begin to review it.
5. Read each of the poems aloud again, and make access to hearing the poem possible for your
students who need to hear it read again and again. Most of the texts on the exam programs
are recorded and accessible on the TLC site.
6. Just like all of the other subjects that our students learn, it is important to have review
sessions and concentrated study times to go over the material again before the exam.
7. Help your students become comfortable with the format of the test. Make sure that each of
them knows what kinds of questions will be asked, and help them identify their strong areas
of knowledge. Make sure they understand the instructions on the exam.
8. Some, if not most of your students, have study habits that they have found works for them
in their mother tongue. Encourage them to use those skills here as well. See how you can
help them implement their successful skills to succeed in the literature module in English as
9. It is vital to spend time working with the students on understanding questions that may
appear on the test.
a. Teach them to identify the question words.
b. What is the question asking us to do?
c. What literary text/s does this question relate to?
d. How many sub-topics are included in this question?
10. Model possible answers for each question type (question types according to the Table of
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
IV. Completing Tasks
Here are some ways of adapting the tasks for students with LD. The usual adaptations used for
these students in all of the other tasks in the English classroom are, of course, acceptable for the
literature program. Use worksheets or tasks in the classroom.
a. Making sure students hear the questions read (and understand them).
b. Encouraging students to take notes (even in L1) or highlighting in the text or recording
c. Working in mixed-ability pairs (student-student/ student-teacher) talking together with one
of the students writing the answers, is an excellent way of reviewing material or completing
a task.
d. Working in small groups at the teacher’s desk (teacher writes answers if necessary).
e. Using assistive technology (laptop, computer, recording MP) especially for the students who
have severe reading and writing difficulties.
f. Use checklists: A checklist is a way for your students with LDs to make sure that all of the
assigned work or all of the elements of a specific activity, have been completed.
Guidelines for Teaching the Literature Program to Students with Learning Disabilities
V. Assessment
Assess the students with LD as they would usually be assessed according to their testing
accommodations. When assessing all students’ work in literature, emphasis must be placed on the
content. For five points the grading ratio is 80% content and 20% language; for four points the
grading ratio is 90% content and 10% language.
Logistics for Logs
1. The Log includes the work on all of the pieces of literature that were taught (see the section
called “Calculation of the Final Grade for the Log” in the Handbook for the details.)
2. In addition to watching the webcast of Log Logistics for all students, keep these things in mind as
well for your students with LD:
a. Remember that many students with LD, and/or Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD), have
severe difficulties with their organizational skills that also affect memory and recall.
b. All students should have a large binder with at least 10 dividers (one for an introduction,
table of contents and cover page; one for each completed and marked unit of work and one
for reflection on the Log) to be kept at home and used ONLY for keeping the COMPLETED
and graded units of work.
c. At the end of the unit, include a clear and detailed checklist and go over it with the entire
class in order to ensure that the students have included all of the work in the unit. Insist that
your students have copies on the computer for all of their hard copy work.
d. For those students who are really challenged when it comes to saving and keeping track of
things, you may need to walk them through the whole process of putting together a unit and
a Log. A teacher can also have their students send them their work through email for them
to keep as back up on their computer. This is for the students with the most severe
organizational issues. After all, teaching the students organizational skills can be one of the
benefits of working with them on this program.
e. Enlist the help of the parents for keeping track of the Log work. Parents should be aware
that the final grade for the Log necessitates inclusion of ALL the work produced over two or
three years.
f. Emailing lists or school websites are an excellent way of reminding students what needs to
be done by the next lesson.
a. Handouts can be posted, so students can download them if they get lost.
b. Checklists can be posted and updated periodically so students can be sure that they
know what they need to have done so far
g. A weekly or monthly calendar of dates and lessons can be emailed to students and/or
posted in the classroom to remind the students of the lessons and due dates.
h. In order to keep the lines of communication open, try to find the most appropriate channel
of communication for each of your students with learning difficulties.
i. Be as kind to the environment as possible. Remember to upload every worksheet,
document, assignment and checklist to your site or email. Logs can be submitted digitally.

Teaching the Seven Key Components to your Students with