Professional Research Notes from Delaware Valley Friends School

The LDIQ Professional Research Notes are research-based articles by Delaware Valley Friends School professionals, and cover topics on education, LD education, and information that will enhance your professional development.


Follow these links to published Research Notes:


Research Notes JANUARY 2017

Achieving Milestones in Middle School with Multisensory Math

By Kelly McHugh, Middle School Math Teacher

When I started teaching at DV, I was introduced to the Orton-Gillingham (O-G), diagnostic-prescriptive approach to teaching language. I was given the opportunity to take a course in the math counterpart, Multisensory Math, last Winter, and it transformed my approach to lessons. Armed with the knowledge and research-based techniques for instruction I waded into the shallow-end of the Multisensory Math pool with my students in the Spring. It was exciting to have more tools to help them grasp more abstract concepts. Read more -->

Research Notes MAY 2016

Effective and Efficient Learning: The Science of Successful Learning as Applied to Learning Differences (part 2)

In my last research note, I discussed ways to make learning more effective based on current understanding of the science of learning. Effective learning involves effortful retrieval of information over time, which can be fostered by frequent low-stakes practice that is varied, spaced, and interleaved. Learning is also most effective when learners have a growth mindset, are reflective and resilient, and bring a sense of agency and purpose to their learning. These approaches result in the most effective approach to building, or more accurately literally growing longterm memory. Read more -->

Research Notes JANUARY 2016

The Element of Surprise: Using Improvisation to Create meaningful Music Curricula for adolescents with Learning Differences

by Timothy Simmons, Music Teacher, Delaware Valley Friends School

In many ways, a spirit of adventure and experimentation has always been the driving force behind everything we do in the Music program at Delaware Valley Friends School. From the very beginning, our mission has been to empower students to rediscover the joy in making music, and to find their own musical voices within themselves. But this program is also founded on exciting research suggesting that daily improvisation and drumming can boost phonological awareness and reading prosody, help students process language more effectively, increase connectivity in the brain, and improve basic executive functions, and working memory and may even improve reading skills in students with dyslexia. Read more-->


Research Notes SEPTEMBER 2015

Effective and Efficient Learning: The Science of Successful Learning as Applied to Learning Differences (part 1)

Applied psychology, neuroscience and behavioral studies have coalesced into a broad new understanding of what actually works in making studying and learning more effective and efficient. We at DVFS have adopted these practices into our program and are actively teaching our students how to be more effective and efficient. Read more -->

Research Notes JANUARY 2015

The Benefits of Mindfulness Training for Students with Learning and Attentional Challenges

Over the last few decades, the practice of mindfulness, which is most often based on an attention to breath as a way of anchoring in the present moment, has grown in popularity and in respect. As mindfulness becomes increasingly common, how can we use it as a way to help ADHD and LD adolescents in the classroom? Read more -->

Research Notes OCTOBER 2014

The Possibility and Pragmatics of Identifying, Implementing, and Assessing the Use of Assistive Technology among LD Adolescents: A Classroom View from the Trenches

The use of Assistive Technology to help students with learning differences, particularly Specific Language Disability (SLD), is extremely promising, but implementing a coherent plan for assistive technology in such a way that students can use it effectively, independently, and habitually remains a challenge for teachers in the classroom. If we are to expect students to use AT, it is not enough to present them with it. We have to teach a new skill just as we do the unmastered skills that this technology is designed to replace and the teacher who is training the student in the AT must be proficient in its use him or herself. Read more -->

Research Notes MAY 2014

Auditory Comprehension: Can You Hear and Understand Me?

Many children who have learning disabilities struggle to read and comprehend, yet they are able to succeed when they receive differentiated instruction tailored to their learning profile. Sometimes, however, despite specialized instruction and small classroom settings, a few students may not make expected progress. These students often struggle to keep up with their classwork and frequently need directions repeated and one-on-one support to meet academic demands. When called on in class they frequently say they don't understand or can't remember despite explicit instruction and modeling. At times a teacher may wonder where the students were when the concepts were taught. Could it be that they were distracted or could something else be responsible for interfering with their ability to hear or process the information provided in a lesson? Read more -->

Research Notes DECEMBER 2013

Content area reading: Can audio books help LD students access the curriculum?

“Content literacy refers to the ability to use reading, writing, talking, listening, and viewing to learn subject matter in a given discipline." (Vacca, Vacca, Mraz, 2011) Unfortunately students with learning disabilities often spend “valuable learning time decoding difficult concepts and vocabulary at the expense of effective higher level comprehension." (Boyle, Rosenberg, Connelly, Washburn, Brinckerhoff & Banerjee, 2003) How can these students regain this valuable learning time to focus their efforts on higher-level comprehension? This is a question many teachers struggle to answer as they teach their content curriculum. Read more -->

Research Notes SEPTEMBER 2013

Language Structure: A Key to Content Comprehension

Do you have students who can read but struggle to comprehend their science and history textbooks? Why do so many adolescents struggle to comprehend this reading despite the fact that their word recognition skills are on grade level? How can content area teachers support students' reading development while not losing their focus on the curriculum? These are the challenges that most content area teachers face as they design their instruction to meet the needs of their students and the Common Core literacy standards. Science, history, and other subjects present major challenges to students, and a great part of the challenge is linguistic. (Halliday, 1993) Functional linguists believe that many of these challenges can be solved if students are explicitly taught the language structures that are characteristic of each content area. Read more -->

Research Notes MARCH 2013

Rethinking our Definition of Fluency: A Discussion of Current Research

Highlighted as one of the five pillars of literacy by the National Reading Panel (2000), fluency instruction is an integral component of any researched based reading curriculum. Lessons that include fluency instruction and assessment are standard practice throughout schools yet “experts still disagree about the precise definition of reading fluency" (Morris & Gaffney, 2011, p. 331). How can it be that experts cannot agree upon this definition when fluency “is often responsible for driving major instructional decisions?" (as cited in Kuhn, Schwanenflugel, Meisinger, 2010, p. 230). If we do not have an agreed upon definition of fluency, how do we know we are assessing it correctly? Are there additional components to fluency that we are not currently assessing and using to inform our instruction? A discussion of recent research answers these questions and seeks to enhance our current instruction and assessment of fluency. Read more -->


Delaware Valley Friends School welcomes students in grades 5 - 12 with learning differences, particularly in reading (dyslexia), writing (dysgraphia), math (dyscalculia), memory (long-term and working), processing speed, ADHD and executive functioning challenges.

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Delaware Valley Friends School
19 E. Central Avenue, Paoli, Pennsylvania 19301
Phone: 610.640.4150
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