Pin Me

Improve Reading Comprehension for Students with Special Needs

written by: Barbara • edited by: Lamar Stonecypher • updated: 7/12/2012

Identifying the main idea and topic of reading selections for students with learning disabilities can be a challenging task for both student and teacher. By creating the right reading tools to enhance reading comprehension skills, teachers can provide students with the right toolkits for learning.

  • slide 1 of 1

    Reading Modifications

    Learning Objective:

    The learning target or objective for most Language Arts' reading curriculum comprehension is the same for all students: "Students will identify the main idea or topic of the reading selection and provide supporting details from the selection." For students with identified special needs who may have a reading deficiency as indicated in their IEP (Individual Education Plan), lesson plan modifications will increase their reading comprehension and application of that knowledge in increasing reading capacity.

    Learning with Modifications:

    Anticipatory Set

    Providing an anticipatory set that hooks the student to the learning objectives is crucial. Before selecting reading materials ask yourself the question, "Will this selection catch the student's attention and Why?" Create a diversity of materials that provide real-life application to a student's life. For example, an article on "How to Maximize the I-Pod Storage for Songs," will catch a student's attention far quicker than an article on, "The Recession of 2009 and It's Impact on Global Warming."

    Clear Instructions

    The instructions must be clear with defined learning outcomes for the class period. For example, the teacher can instruct each student to pick a reading selection from the table next to the board. The selection can include newspaper selections, favorite books, game instructions (leave the game in a locked desk) or the student may bring in a favorite reading selection. Students can read their selection to each other and discuss the proposed main ideas and highlight facts to support their proposal.

    Use Graphic Organizers and Computers

    The lesson outcome can include demonstrating to students how to use graphic organizers to organize their main ideas with supporting texts or using assistive aids to detail that information. Modifications can include modeling with clear expectations and providing clear visual aids on the board or an overhead. Students using assistive devices can use prescribed templates using computer software or voice activated software to scribe their thoughts and proposals.

    Reflective Journaling Practice

    Reflective journaling can provide opportunities for students to think about their learning and evaluate whether they met the goals and objectives including reasons for why and why not.


    A clearly sequenced learning objective with real life reading selections and opportunities for student mastery and understanding along with reading modifications for students with special needs can allow for meaningful learning collaboration and outcome for effective student performance. By providing these reading tools to enhance reading comprehension skills, teachers can provide students with the right tools to become better readers.

    Source: author's own experience