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Promoting Academic Success in High School Students with Language Learning Disabilities (LLD)
The transition from middle school to high school for students with language learning disabilities (LLD) is difficult as there is an increased demand for the use of syntactically complex language in writing essays, reading textbooks (expository texts), and taking comprehensive notes during lectures. The ability for students with LLD to maintain the same workload as their peers is also challenging as they tend to demonstrate poor attention, memory, and metacognitive skills (Paul & Norbury, 2012). These students may require additional external supports from a speech language pathologist (SLP) in order to improve the areas of formulating a persuasive essay, expository text comprehension, word knowledge, and strategic note taking. Evidence based strategic tools including the use of graphic organizers, strategic note taking, and peer mentoring groups are available and beneficial for helping students with LLD learn in the classroom.
Writing a persuasive essay is an area that students with LLD may struggle with which is thought to be attributed to the higher cognitive demand necessary to sequence complex ideas (Paul & Norbury, 2012). Persuasive writing may also be difficult because it requires the use of complex language to analyze, discuss, and summarize in an organized and concise essay. Graphic organizers may serve as a visual representation of the sequencing and organization necessary to complete a well written essay in terms of creating a thesis, formulating supporting ideas, and employing a thoughtful conclusion (Paul & Norbury, 2012).
Many textbooks utilized in high school classrooms are expository in nature. Students with LLD who have reading difficulties are going to be challenged by the variation in structures of expository texts (e.g., causative, explanatory, comparative, sequential) (Paul & Norbury, 2012). Expository texts are also challenging as they can contain dense passages which may lead to poor comprehension in students with LLD. Graphic organizers can improve reading comprehension of expository texts by displaying the relationship of ideas. For example, Kim, Vaughn, Wanzek, & Wei, (2004), found large effects sizes on reading comprehension measures while completing a systematic review on the use of graphic organizers in high school participants. They can also promote the student to relate new knowledge learned to knowledge previously known. By deconstructing expository texts, the process of parsing out what is important is in itself a way for students with LLD to learn. 
Word knowledge of expository texts is a language domain that students with LLD have issues with as they typically have poor knowledge of more complex language forms and unspecific knowledge of the words previously known (Paul & Norbury, 2012). Graphic organizers including venn diagrams, semantic feature grids, and root word tables can help students with LLD develop their vocabulary to become more complex. Specifically, venn diagrams may be useful for comparing and contrasting words that the student may come across while reading expository texts (Paul & Norbury, 2012).
Note taking may also be a struggle for students with LLD, specifically in deciding what information is important to write down from lectures. The traditional note taking method, called the linear method, may not be best suited for students with LLD (Makany, Kemp, & Dror, 2009). Makany et al., (2009) investigated linear versus nonlinear (e.g., graphic organizers) note taking in students and found that the non linear note taking group performed 20% better than the linear note taking group as measured on a reading comprehension task. However, the results were insignificant. Another study found large effect sizes for strategic note taking versus conventional note taking on four measures: immediate free recall, long term recall, comprehension, and number of different words (Boyle & Weishaar, 2001). Boyle and Weishaar (2001) created a note taking template, similar to a 3-2-1 sheet, that requires students to identify the lecture topic and relate the topic to their previous knowledge (Boyle, 2001). Students are also required to write seven facts about the topic during class time and summarize what they learned at the end of class. By connecting new and previously learned information, students can store the information better in working memory (Boyle & Weishaar, 2001). 
Promoting academic success through peer mentor groups has also shown to be effective in increasing academic success in students (Mastropieri, Scruggs, Spencer, & Fontana, 2003). Mastropieri et al., (2003) investigated how students with LLD would respond to guided note taking from a teacher compared to peer tutoring in a world history class. The researchers found that students in the peer tutoring condition performed significantly better than students in the guided notes condition as measured on a world history test. Despite the study employing middle school aged participants, the results are consistent with Paul and Norbury (2012) who have established that peer mentoring groups can help students comprehend expository texts. Paul and Norbury (2012) outline four strategies to utilize in peer mentor groups: Preview, Click and Clunk, Get the Gist, and Wrap Up. Preview consists of the student recalling previous known knowledge of the topic. Click and Clunk involves metacognitive skills as the student has to actively monitor their comprehension during reading or listening by recognizing when they are ‘clicking’  with the information or when they are not comprehending (clunking) the information. Get the Gist involves restating the important ideas from the text and fourth strategy, Wrap up, is used to summarize what the student has learned.
The use of graphic organizers by special educators and SLPs may help be inclusive to all students’ learning styles. In consideration of the deficits of LLD students, it is important to note that they may require explicit instruction on how to use a graphic organizer, engage in peer mentor groups, and take strategic notes. Moreover, graphic organizers have clinical implications for SLPs as they can serve as a variation of a visual cue when working on language objectives. SLPs may also need to consider collaborating with teachers and special educators in providing information on using strategic tools when presenting information to students with LLD. Specifically, working with teachers to prepare graphic organizers and note taking sheets that guide students through a lecture, an essay prompt, or a reading passage.