Welcome to OPEPP​
Ohio Partnership for Excellence in Paraprofessional Preparation

Take Notes: Teaching to the Edges


Because reading uses so many different skills, learning to do it can be hard for students who can’t hear or see clearly or who are learning English as their second or third language. Reading draws on the shared language that writers and readers understand. And it also depends on seeing symbols and hearing sounds. Nevertheless, English learners (ELs) can learn to read English, and students with sensory disabilities can also learn to read.

Thinking about diverse learners leads to consideration of their individual differences.
  • As we read earlier in the Introductory Scenarios, learners bring different assets and challenges to school with them. That’s why one approach doesn’t fit all students.
  • Second, learners benefit when the classroom offers alternatives that are available to everyone. No one is singled out as being different—the environment simply accommodates all students’ differences.

Parapros often work with students whose needs are especially complex


Reflection on what these students need should drive instructional planning and practice. That’s what educators mean when they talk about designing to the edges. They work to create a set of teaching and learning environments and tools that will enable every single student to learn even those learners who have unusual or especially complex needs.  This is the best approach for ALL STUDENTS! 

As a result, our teaching methods need to be:


The goal is that students’ strengths will help them overcome their learning challenges.  This means getting to know the whole child. 

Universal Design for Learning (UDL)

UDL is a way of teaching that takes all students’ needs and strengths into account through flexible and accessible preplanning and lesson design. 

The model for UDL comes from studies of the brain. It separates what happens when we learn into three types of brain networks: 

  • recognition (noticing patterns and deciding what they mean)
  • strategic (predicting and planning how to understand something),
  •  affective (feeling motivated to grasp why something is important).

We can apply this model to reading too. It points to the fact that reading requires people to recognize words, understand their meanings, and figure out how those meanings relate to their lives. Let’s look at the same list above but in terms of READING…

  • recognition (noticing patterns and deciding what they mean)- Recognize Words
  • strategic (predicting and planning how to understand something)-Understand Meaning
  •  affective (feeling motivated to grasp why something is important)-Relate Meaning to Life



          The goal is ALL  students can benefit according to their actual preferences and needs.

Module: Helping Students Read (Clone)

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