Madison and Sam-Basic Comprehension


When working with students with moderate to severe disabilities, it can be difficult obtaining data that accurately represents the student’s true ability level. I find this especially difficult in the area of comprehension or any type of questioning activities.

One of my students will respond with the last choice that was read or given to him. This doesn’t show his true ability level. Therefore, we have been trying different approaches.

Student Led

If the text is written on his independent reading level, he reads it. This way he isn’t answering with the last thing he heard me say. I will read the story/text to him. He will read the question and answer options. Then, he selects his answer.

Other times. I read the text or information to him. Then, I read the question. Next, I read each answer. Before allowing him to choose an answer, I reread the question. This way the last thing he heard is the question not the answer choices.

Madison-Sam Comprehension

SpecialEdSimplified has short stories that can be used with comprehension activities. One example of this is Madison-Sam Comprehension. These stories are about three sentences long and have three questions per story. For this activity, we do three separate stories. This allows for one story with errorless learning, a different story for instruction, and the final story for data collection.

Errorless Learning

With this, cut the story off the top and cut apart the question from the answers. Read the story and question. Then, read the answers. Before he gets the opportunity to choose a response, I will show him the correct answer in the story. “Madison is going shopping.” “Where is Madison going?” “Shopping.” Finally, “Where is Madison going?” During this part of instruction, I am feeding him the answers both verbally and showing the correct answer choice.

Data Collection

After going through errorless learning and another instructional session (which is basically the same), it is then time for data collection. At this point, I will read the story, read the question, read the answers, and reread the question. I am constantly debating if I should take data after the instructional activities. Suggestions? Ideas? I would love your input!

Sometimes these very simple techniques is all that is needed to assist students. What simple strategies do you use in your classroom to help students become more successful?