How do teachers meet the academic needs of youth in juvenile corrections settings?

Page 8: Incorporate Additional Instructional Practices

A number of EBPs have been shown to be effective in teaching average students, struggling students, and students with disabilities in public schools. Although no research has been done to validate these practices in a JC setting, experts hypothesize that these strategies are likely to also prove effective in those settings. Some of these practices are briefly described in the subsequent sections.


Instructional scaffolding is a process through which a teacher adds supports for students in order to enhance learning and aid in the mastery of tasks. The teacher does this by systematically building on students’ experiences and knowledge as they are learning new skills. Just like a scaffold used to construct buildings, these supports are temporary and adjustable. As students master the assigned tasks, the supports are gradually removed. For example, when teaching a new strategy, the teacher can use the scaffolding technique below.

scaffolding depiction

Study Skills Instruction

Students with learning difficulties, particularly those with LD and ADHD, often do not approach academic tasks in a planful, strategic manner. They might lack knowledge of an appropriate strategy, or they might make use of inappropriate or ineffective ones. Whatever the case, the result is that they often perform poorly on academic tasks or fail to complete them in a timely manner, if at all. Therefore, these students need to be explicitly taught how to strategically approach academic tasks in order to gain and use information effectively. In other words, they need to be taught effective study strategies, often referred to as study skills. The table below lists several study skills strategies that can help students be more successful in the classroom.

Activities Related to Learning Study Skills Strategies
Processing information
  • Graphic organizers
  • Comprehension strategies
Retaining and recalling information
  • Mnemonic strategies
  • Note-taking
Organizing materials and managing time
  • Time management
  • Materials organization
Selecting, monitoring, and using strategies
  • Self-regulation strategies

Reading Instruction in the Content Areas

Successful performance in subject areas depends on strong reading skills. As you learned earlier, many students in JC settings read far below grade level. Many of those who can read still have difficulty with the types of complex text found in content-area materials. Therefore, the majority of students in JC settings would benefit from explicit content-area reading instruction. Teachers can integrate reading instruction into content instruction by using the specific vocabulary and comprehension strategies and described in the table below.

Vocabulary Comprehension

Providing effective vocabulary instruction by:

  • Selecting essential words
  • Explicitly defining and contextualizing those words
  • Helping students to actively process the information
  • Providing multiple exposures to the words

Improving students’ comprehension skills by explicitly teaching strategies to help them:

  • Activate prior knowledge about a topic or concept
  • Monitor comprehension and correct misunderstandings while reading
  • Use graphic organizers to relate information from the text
  • Answer different kinds of questions about the text
  • Generate questions about the material in the text

In the video below, educational consultant Anita Archer demonstrates how to explicitly define and contextualize a vocabulary word (time: 4:24).

View Transcript

Video is courtesy Anita L. Archer.

For Your Information

Many youth in JC settings have low levels of literacy. In addition to providing reading instruction in the content areas, it is critical that teachers incorporate individual or small-group explicit instruction of reading skills for these youth.

Mathematics Instruction

Two major objectives of high-quality mathematics instruction are to move away from primarily teaching computational procedures and to move toward helping students achieve a deeper understanding of mathematic concepts. A related objective is to assist students in making connections between mathematical concepts. Teachers can implement, either independently or in combination, a number of classroom practices designed to increase their students’ mathematical understanding. For example:

      • Using manipulatives—concrete objects that represent a mathematical idea—to help students make the connection between the concrete object and the abstract concept being taught
      • Using assessment data (e.g., formative assessment, error analysis) to guide instruction
      • Presenting and comparing multiple solutions to develop an understanding that a problem may be solved accurately using different procedures

        Example: Comparing Multiple Solutions

        + 28
        Solution 1:
        Solution 2:

        Step 1.
        + 20
        Step 1.
        + 28

        Step 2.
        + 8
        Step 2.
        + 28

        Step 3.
        + 12

        Guidelines for Supporting Comparison

        1. Present examples side-by-side.
        2. Use common labels (e.g., ones, tens columns) to draw attention to similarities.
        3. Prompt for specific comparisons tailored to your learning goals.
        4. Be sure that students, not just the teacher, are comparing and explaining.
        5. Include a summary of the main idea from the comparison, highlighting key points of the comparison.

        Rittle-Johnson & Star (2010), p. 26

      • Encouraging students to describe the strategies and mathematical procedures they used to solve a problem (time: 3:07)

        View Transcript | Credits

teacher toolbox

This toolbox lists and describes additional resources related to the information presented on this page. These resources are provided for informational purposes only for those who wish to learn more about the topic(s). It is not necessary for those viewing this Module to read or refer to all of these additional resources to understand the content. The resources are organized by the page section/topics to which they apply.


Study Skills Instruction

Reading Instruction in the Content Areas

Mathematics Instruction

  • High-Quality Mathematics Instruction: What Teachers Should Know
    This Module describes the components of high-quality mathematics instruction: a standards-based curriculum and evidence-based strategies. It also highlights several effective practices teachers can use to teach mathematics (est. completion time: 1 hour).

Revisit NDTAC’s resources about Teaching and Learning, including including an issue brief on FAPE. To access these materials, visit the NDTAC Website and select Teaching and Learning from the Topic Areas menu at the top of the page.

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