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The Intersection of Technology Tools and Cognitive Strategies: Improving Content Area Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities. Cynthia Okolo Michigan State University Cognitive Strategy Instruction. Been around a long time Skills versus strategies 

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The Intersection of Technology Tools and Cognitive Strategies: Improving Content Area Instruction for Students with Mild Disabilities

Cynthia Okolo

Michigan State University

cognitive strategy instruction
Cognitive Strategy Instruction
  • Been around a long time
  • Skills versus strategies 
  • Students with disabilities may not be strategic learners
  • Strong evidence for efficacy 
cognitive strategy instruction1
Cognitive Strategy Instruction
  • Strategies help students make use of what they know
      • Still need to learn content
      • Still need to learn skills
what is cognitive strategy instruction
What is Cognitive Strategy Instruction?
  • Cognitive strategy instruction (CSI)
  •     e.g., Robert Reid, University of Nebraska 
  • Learning strategies instruction
  •     e.g., Strategic Instruction Model (UK),
  • Self-regulated strategy development (SRSD)
  •    e.g., SRSD in writing
what is cognitive strategy instruction1
What is Cognitive Strategy Instruction?
  • More than a recipe


  • Set of principles + set of instructional practices
principles of cognitive strategy instruction
Principles of Cognitive Strategy Instruction
  • Strategy is like a heuristic, a set of steps
    •  How do I do this?
    •  What steps do I follow?
    •  In what order
  • Helps the implicit become explicit
  • Interactive, dialogic
  • Students take ownership of their learning
    • self-regulation
    • generalization
    • flexible use and adaptation
hamburger strategy
Hamburger Strategy
  • This is a set of steps, but not a strategy
  • Top of bun: Topic Sentence
  • Meat: Supports (related to your topic sentence)
  • Condiments: Expansions: analysis, interpretation, explanation, insight
  • Bottom bun: Concluding sentence
practices of cognitive strategy instruction
Practices of Cognitive Strategy Instruction
  • Develop background knowledge, reason for learning, motivation
  • Describe/discuss strategy and steps
  • Model the strategy
    • Heart of strategy instruction
  • Memorize steps
  • Guided practice (skill appropriate)
  • Independent practice (age appropriate)
  • Generalization
examples of strategy instruction
Examples of Strategy Instruction
  • Watch and discuss an example: Strategies for Reading Fluency
    • Utah Center for Reading and Literacy
examples of technology based strategy instruction
Examples of Technology-Based Strategy Instruction
  • Discuss CAST Strategy Tutor
  • Discuss SOAR
    • Carolyn Harper Knox, Ph.D.541-346-3543 voice mail541-346-6226 fax
task x strategy




technology is not always the best approach
Technology is Not Always the Best Approach
  • Sometimes good old pencil and paper works best
  • Consider affordances and constraints
studying facts and vocabulary
Studying facts and vocabulary
  • Mastering a set of information requires a large amount of focused practice
    • Can take upwards of 24 times to reach 80% accuracy
    • May be more for kids with learning difficulties/disabilities
  • New learning does not happen quickly, requires practice spread out over time
    • Small set of information at a time
    • Spaced practice
    • Review
    • Build on existing knowledge networks
  • Increments in learning start out large then taper off
study tools for study strategies
Study Tools for Study Strategies
  • StudyHive (basic flashcard program)
    • Cramberry: (self-quiz)
  • Sometimes technology tools model cognitive strategies
    • HeadMagnet:
      • “Explore” option to see how the tool works
    • Quizlet:
      • (see Speak It option)
study strategy steps
Study Strategy Steps
  • Prioritize
  • Take the first step—any step
  • Identify resources to help you
  • Schedule
    • blocks of study time and breaks
    • Use free time wisely
    • Postpone distractions
  • Study space
  • Review
    • Weekly
    • Before class
    • After class

before reading strategies
Before Reading Strategies
  • Brainstorming
    • PreP: PreReading Plan
  • Setting a goal for reading
  • Skimming, scan, predict
    • SQ3R
    • Reciprocal teaching
  • K-W-L
    • Know, what to know, learn(ed)
example survey
Example: Survey
  • Survey
    • the title, headings, and subheadings
    • captions under pictures, charts, graphs or maps
    • review questions or teacher-made study guides
    • introductory and concluding paragraphs
    • summary
  • Question while you are surveying:
    • Turn the title, headings, and/or subheadings into questions
    • Read questions at the end of the chapters or after each subheading
    • Ask yourself, "What did my instructor say about this chapter or subject when it was assigned?"
    • Ask yourself, "What do I already know about this subject?”
concept mapping
Concept Mapping
  • Inspiration/webspiration
  • Mindomo
  • Popplet
  • Freemind
during reading
During Reading
  • Access to print
    • e.g., text to speech, large print
  • Predicting
  • Questioning and clarifying
    • Vocabulary (online dictionaries, translation tools)
    • Unfamiliar concepts (linking, searching)
  • Locating important ideas
    • Notetaking
    • Annotating
    • Bookmarking
    • Highlighting
  • Social networking (asking others, discussing)
  • Free application available on web toolbar:
  • Ideas for using Diigo in education:
what strategies do students need to use diigo
What Strategies Do Students Need to Use Diigo?
  • Finding and evaluating information
  • Identifying important information
    • Main ideas
    • Details
  • Monitoring comprehension
    • Annotating
    • Finding additional information
after reading
After Reading
  • Reducing/reorganizing
    • Summarizing
    • Timeline
    • Concept Map
  • Expanding
  • Studying
  • Communicating
    • Writing
    • Presenting
project pal
Project PAL
  • Integrating a strategy for reading text into WYNN
  • Strategy makes use of WYNN tools
  • WYNN tools support the strategy
  • Strategy helps kids understand and learn from text
prepare strategy
PREPARE Strategy
  • Preview
    • Set goals for reading
    • Ask specific, color-coded questions
  • Read
  • Examine
    • Look through text to meet goals or answer questions
  • Pick what’s important
    • Highlight (color coded to questions)
  • Arrange
    • Highlighted text is extracted by color
    • Students can arrange topically
  • Reduce
    • Write a summary
    • Create notecards for study or to support writing
  • Explain
      • Supported writing for different types of text (e.g., narrative, expository)
prepare features
PREPARE Features
  • Student can access all WYNN tools from all strategy steps
  • Choice
    • Student can skip strategy steps
      • But teacher can override
    • Student can go back and forth between strategy steps
  • All directions and prompts are editable
    • Can use local language of instruction
  • Accompanied by professional development materials
organizing information
Organizing Information
  • Ideas
  • Materials
    • Reading
    • Notes
    • Pictures
    • Resources
  • Collaborating
  • Searching & Tagging features
  • Web, desktop, mobile
  • Trunk
      • Study Blue
  • Mobile
    • Evernote Peek:
  • Chrome and Firefox extensions, clip from browser
    • Evernote web clipping
other uses of evernote
Other Uses of Evernote
  • Share electronic copies of notes
  • Research web sites & clip pages directly from browser.
  • Create to-do lists, jot down random thoughts, leave voice memos
  • Keep notes organized for different classes in one place.
  • Use as index cards while writing a research paper.
  • Post reminders of upcoming events
what strategies do students need to take advantage of evernote
What Strategies Do Students Need to Take Advantage of Evernote?
  • How to organize
    • Classes
    • Activities
    • Tagging
    • Media types—best ways to represent ideas
  • How to create tags
  • How to search and choose information from the web
  • When and how to collaborate
  • Byrne, R. Free Technology for Teachers.
  • CAST Strategy Tutor:,help
  • Conley, M. W. (2008). Cognitive strategy instruction for adolescents: What we know about the promise, what we don’t know about the potential. Harvard Educational Review
  • Harris, K. R., Schmidt, T., & Graham, S. (1997). Strategies for composition and self-regulation in the writing process. LD Online:
  • Novak, J. D., & Canas, A. J. The theory underlying concept maps and how to use them.
  • Reading Rockets:
  • Project SOAR:
  • Special Connections: Cognitive Strategies:
  • Study Guides and strategies:
  • University of Kansas Learning Strategies Overview:
  • Utah Center for Reading and Literacy: