Novak, Mrs. L.

Mrs. Laura Novak
Learning Disabilities Teacher/Consultant

To ensure a fair selection, you all get the same test  - animal cartoon

This cartoon reflects the teaching philosophy of years past!  In recent years, teachers are required to differentiate instruction to meet the specific needs of all students.  This is even more important for those students who demonstrate learning differences.  Quite the endeavor for the educators of today!  "What's fair is not always equal" is a good way to view each student's educational needs.  Just as each person is unique, so is the manner in which he/she learns.

My position as a learning consultant allows me the opportunity to view student performance across the spectrum of the school day; language arts literacy class, during a math lesson, while engaged in a science lab, in the gymnasium and even in the lunchroom.  A student may demonstrate varying behaviors dependent upon the task demands in each environment.  These observations are very important when determining a student's functional educational performance; how does he/she interact with class activities, writing assignments, with peers and teachers.  My assistance may be required to collaborate with the teachers in designing strategies to differentiate the instruction.  This different approach may enable the student to experience success while engaged in grade level curriculum. 

If the student continues to struggle considerably, the teacher has differentiated instruction and the result is limited to no positive change, educationally and/or behaviorally, this can suggest that there may be 'something more' that is preventing the student from performing well in school.  Is there a learning disability? Is there an emotional component that is contributing?  Is there a medical diagnosis?  Are there factors from home that are causing the student to be distracted while at school?

If a Child Study Team evaluation is warranted, my role is to administer standardized assessment tools that compare the student's performance to a set of national norms. Unfortunately, there are no individually administered test batteries that compare student performance to a norming population of fellow New Jerseyans. The scores attained on the New Jersey Assessment of Skills and Knowledge, administered in a group format to all students in grades three through eight, provide the comparison of student performance within the urban, suburban and more rural sections of the state.  Viewing the student from a global perspective when assessing his/her skills, while recognizing how the teacher has  differentiated, will be beneficial in understanding the student's strengths and weaknesses.  

You may find the following website (www.enhancelearning.ca) helpful in understanding the 'broad stroke' of brain research, which provides a basis for the act of learning.  It also provides information about ways teachers can differentiate instruction; through differentiating the content, activities, product and/or manipulating the environment to accommodate individual learning styles. 

Contact Information:  908.647.1202 ext. 6     lnovak at longhill.org