More Information About Teaching at the Initial and Distal Precursor Linkage Levels

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Extended descriptions of the Initial and Distal Precursor Linkage Levels for the most frequently address DLM Essential Elements are now available!

The descriptions help explain the link between these lowest Linkage Levels and the target DLM Essential Elements and provide teaching ideas.  You can access the files in multiple formats:

Extended Descriptions DLM Essential Elements Initial and Distal Precursors MATH – pdf

Extended Descriptions DLM Essential Elements Initial and Distal Precursors ELA – pdf

You can also link the the descriptions for Math and ELA in  Google Sheets

New Videos of Instruction Targeting the DLM Essential Elements

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The Iowa Department of Education, Iowa Public TV, the University of Northern Iowa, and the Center for Literacy and Disability Studies at UNC Chapel Hill partnered to create a new and exciting resource.  On the site, you’ll find videos of teachers engaged in reading and writing instruction with students with significant cognitive disabilities.  The students range in age and significance of need (including students who use AAC). There are also examples of many different types of classrooms.   In addition to the videos, you will find information about the DLM Essential Elements addressed and links to additional resources.

screen shot of website providing videos of instruction on the Iowa Public Television website

Check it out! 


Use the DLM Professional Development Modules in PLCs

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The facilitated versions of the DLM Professional Development Modules provide a perfect solution for Professional Learning Communities (PLCs) that are focused on the needs of learners with significant cognitive disabilities.  The modules provide the members of the PLC with focused content and ready-made discussion topics and activities that allow them to apply the information to their own students and make sense of data they may be collecting over time.

For more information about using the DLM Professional Development Modules in PLCs, check out this document.

Pinterest Boards

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We have been working to identify existing resources that might be useful to you as you work to teach the DLM Essential Elements. We’ve organized what we’ve found so far on Pinterest Boards. Here is a list of boards for you to check out:

DLM: Compose and Decompose Numbers
DLM: Data Analysis and Probability
DLM: Fractions
DLM: Functions
DLM: Geometry
DLM: Instructional Practice
DLM: Measurement
DLM: Number Sense
DLM: Operations
DLM: Patterning and Algebra

New Professional Development Site

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We have updated the professional development site!  You’ll now find all of the modules at   Now that the modules are complete, we have organized them based on the DLM™ Claims and Conceptual Areas.  This should help you access modules that address instruction related to the Claims and Conceptual Areas you are addressing at each level.  If you haven’t already completed it, you may want to complete the module on Claims and Conceptual Areas to learn more about the way they help to organize the DLM Alternate Assessment System.  

This document will help you cross reference the modules you have completed using the original numbering system with this new organization.

Writing in Action!

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Willans Hill School in Wagga Wagga, New South Wales, Australia has been providing comprehensive literacy instruction to their students with significant cognitive disabilities for several years.  They built a web site to share their approach and successes with other educators.  Check out their what they have to say about writing instruction and watch videos of writing in action at:

Want to Know About Teaching Writing?

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You can learn about writing instruction for students with significant cognitive disabilities through the DLM Professional Development Modules. The modules you want to look for include:

Module 12:  Writing: Text Types and Purposes

Module 16: Writing with Alternate Pencils
NOTE: This module is especially important if you have students with significant motor impairments.
Module 26: Writing Information and Explanation Texts
NOTE:  In the DLM Assessment System, all students are asked to write information or explanations texts.  If you are unsure how to get started, this module will help.
Module 29: Emergent Writing
NOTE:  In the DLM Assessment System, there are conventional writing testlets and emergent writing testlets at every grade level.  If your students are not yet using letters to spell words to generate texts, they are emergent writers.


Alternate Pencil Resources

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Check out the link to Instructional Resources above to find new resources posted about Alternate Pencils.  The resources needed to create the color-coded eye-gaze frame and print alphabet flip chart are available for you to download free-of-charge.

Color Coded Eye Gaze Pencil Print Alphabet flip chart


A Word About Tar Heel Reader

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The familiar texts used in the DLM alternate assessment are being shared using  Tar Heel Reader (  This is a very large library of open-source, accessible, texts for individuals with disabilities of all ages.  Tar Heel Reader was started as a way to address the extreme shortage of easy-to-read books on topics that appeal to older students. Books are contributed to the site by teachers, students, parents, and others from around the world.   There are books on the site that are inappropriate for some audiences.  Reviewers do their best to make sure these books are marked with the CAUTION.  As a result, students should NOT be sent independently to the Tar Heel Reader site.  They should be sent to collections or sets of favorites that teachers create using the tools built into the site.  Teachers can avoid books that they might find offensive by limiting their search to books that are “Reviewed Only” and “Rated E/Everybody.”

Links to the books that are the familiar texts used in the DLM Assessment are provided on this site.  They are available as individual books for teachers to download or read using Powerpoint, and they are available as collections by grade level.

We encourage you to use other books or write your own books on Tar Heel Reader, but remember that it is a library that teachers visit to select books for students – and that students visit when particular collections of books have been identified.