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INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF BASIC AND APPLIED SCIENCE

Insan Akademika Publications

P-ISSN: 2301-4458 E-ISSN: 2301-8038 Vol. 01, No. 02 Oct 2012

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The Effects of Direct Instruction Flashcards with Oral Sentence Creation on the Spelling Accuracy of Three Middle School Students with Disabilities
Melaina Cole1, T. F. McLaughlin2, Rebecca Johnson3
1

Gonzaga University, East 502 Boone Avenue Spokane, WA 99258-0025 mcole@zagmail.gonzaga.edu


2

Gonzaga University, AD Box 25, Spokane, WA 99258-0025 mclaughlin@gonzaga.edu

Spokane Pubic Schools, North 200 Bernard, Spokane, WA 99201 RebeccaJ@spokaneschools.org

Key words
Flashcard, Spelling, Written communication, Extra practice, Moderate disabilities, Model, Lead, Test, Oral Sentence

Abstract:
This study evaluated the effectiveness of direct instruction flashcards with oral supplemental sentence creation practice. The study was conducted over the course of eight weeks and evaluated the participants spelling performance. The three participants were selected for the study based upon their low spelling performance. All participants had a disability that affected their academic performance; this study correlated with a goal in the participants Individual Educational Plans. Therefore providing a link between the research and the goals for each participant in written communication. Baseline data were taken each week to determine the words that would enter intervention. The criterion for words to enter intervention was that three or more participants or students incorrectly spelled the word in baseline. Intervention began with participants and students chosen at random to identify the word and provide an original sentence. Following the oral sentence creation, the instructor would model of spelling the word, then the instructor lead the participants and students in spelling the word, and finally the participants and students spell the word independently. The intervention showed that this strategy was moderately effective. Participant 1s average percent correct improved from 13% in baseline to 64% during DI flashcards and constructing sentences using the spelling words. Participant 2s average correct improved from 0% percent in baseline to 27% during DI flashcards and requiring the students to create sentences from their spelling words. Participant 3s average correct from 47% in baseline to 96% during intervention.
2012 Insan Akademika All Rights Reserved

Introduction

Accurate spelling is a necessary academic skill for children to acquire in school (Graham, 1999; McLaughlin, Weber, & Barretto, 2004; McLaughlin, Weber, & Derby, in press). Although spelling is an essential skill, there is only limited classroom research documenting how teachers can improve the performance of their students. Studies have indicated that students who struggle to identify words, often perform poorly in spelling (Graham, Harris, & Fink-Chorzempa, 2002). Student morphological awareness is also a predictor of their ability to spell, which is a factor of literacy development (Apel, & Lawrence, 2011).

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Spelling also is correlated with the quality of writing and impacts the proficiency of the students writing (Brice, 2004). Spelling is interconnected with both reading and writing skills of students, therefore both are important to develop and become proficient (Apel, & Lawrence, 2011; Graham, Harris, & Fink-Chorzempa, 2002). This is especially true for students have difficulty in school. Students with disabilities often have difficulty in school and require additional instruction and practice to acquire a skill (Tanner, 2001). Even when differences in IQ have been controlled, students with various disabilities spell fewer words correctly than do their normally achieving peers (Carpenter, 1983; Carpenter & Miller, 1984; Heward, 2013). Spelling also requires the attention to the sequence of letters in order to be accurate. Attention to each letter within a word is necessary for accurate spelling to be acquired (Mercer & Mercer, 2013). A successful method for teaching academic skills to children with special needs has the use of direct instruction (DI) flashcards (Hayter, Scott, McLaughlin, & Weber, 2007; Tan & Nicholson, 1997). Typically, DI flashcards are employed to teach and improve the fluency of various academic skills such as sight words (Higgins, McLaughlin, Derby, & Long, 2012; Hopewell, McLaughlin, & Derby, 2011; Ruwe, McLaughlin, Derby, & Johnson, 2011) basic math facts (Brasch, Williams, & McLaughlin, 2008; Erbey, McLaughlin, Derby, & Everson, 2011; Lund, McLaughlin, Neyman, & Everson, 2012; Walker, McLaughlin, & Weber, 2012), colors or shapes, (K. Herberg, McLaughlin, Derby, & Gilbert, 2011) or letter sounds (Travis, McLaughlin, Derby, Dolliver, & Carosella, 2011), and spelling (Skarr, McLaughlin, Derby, Meade, & Williams, 2012). Flashcards have been employed to teach various ages such as preschool (Chandler, McLaughlin, Neyman, & Rinaldi, 2012; Ehlers, McLaughlin, Derby, & Rinaldi, 2012), elementary (Hopewell et al., 2011; Travis, McLaughlin, Derby, Weber, & Carosella, 2011; Walker et al., 2012), middle school (J. Herberg, McLaughlin, Derby, & Weber, 2012; Ruwe et al., 2011) and high school students (Brasch et al., 2008; Hayter et al., 2008) a wide range of specific skills. The implementation of a flashcard system is unique; in that, it can be used in almost any setting and it teaches specific skills quickly (Van Houten & Rolider, 1989). DI flashcards have an error correction procedure allowing students to receive feedback so that they do not repeat the skill incorrectly. After an error, the instructor models the correct answer with the student, the student and teacher recite or write the correct answer together, and finally the student independently is required to provide the correct answer independently. This procedure is repeated until the student is able to provide the correct answer independently (Hopewell, McLaughlin, & Derby, 2011; Shouse, Weber, & McLaughlin, & Riley, 2012; Silbert, Carnine, & Stein, 1981). This card is then placed three cards from the top of the stack. This is done to provide additional practice with items that the student is having difficulty. Error correction procedures have been shown to be a data based effective strategy for a variety of basic skills, across various populations (Becker, 1977; Carnine, Silbert, Kameenui, & Tarver 2004; Kinder & Carnine, 1991; Shouse et al., 2012; Silbert et al., 1981). Supplemental sentence practice has also been evaluated in the literature. Daiz, McLaughlin, & Williams (1990) found that having elementary students with learning disabilities write the spelling words in sentences improved their performance of end of the week spelling tests. In the present report, we employed choral responding and oral practice. Supplemental practice, where students can write or say their spelling words correctly, as been suggested as an effective teaching procedure (Cosby, McLaughlin, Derby, & Huewe, 2009; Graham, Harris, & Fink, 2001; Treacy, McLaughlin, Derby, & Schlettert, 2012). The purpose of this study was to determine the effectiveness DI flashcards with oral supplemental sentence creation practice to improve the accuracy of spelling for three middle school students enrolled in a selfcontained designed instruction (DI) classroom. A great deal of classroom research has shown the effectiveness of direct instruction flashcards, but little research regarding using DI flashcards to improve the spelling performance of students with moderate disabilities. The oral supplemental sentence creation in which the students create original sentences following identifying the word was an additional technique to provide more student participation; the effectiveness of this supplemental technique is also evaluated.

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2
2.1

Method
Participants and Setting

There were three participants in this study. They were chosen for this study based upon their previous academic performance and all of our participants were below grade level in spelling. The first participant was a 15-year-old male in eighth grade diagnosed with multiple disabilities, including autism spectrum disorder and mental retardation. He had been placed in a self-contained classroom designed for individuals with autism that demonstrated explosive behaviors. Participant 1 received special education services in reading, writing, math, adaptive, and behavior at the time of the study. He was reading at 2nd grade level and completing math at a 3rd grade level. Participant 1 had difficulty listening to directions and respecting adults; this often led to the participant being asked to leave the classroom due to inappropriate behavior. His inappropriate behavior occurred most often when an assignment was challenging. The participant was transitioning from the self-contained autism classroom to the self-contained designed instruction classroom. This transition was difficult due to the novel demands the participant was given in the designed instruction classroom. According to staff reports, Participant 1 would get frustrated when material was repeated. This was true whether it was repeated by an instructor or peers. He was aware that he was academically behind his peers, and this had further decreased his self-confidence. Participant 1had received special education services since the age of three. He was referred for communication, cognitive, behavioral, and social assessment. Participant 1 had demonstrated violent behaviors in various placements in the school system. These behaviors included hitting, kicking, and screaming at peers and instructors, verbal threats towards others, and self-injurious behavior. He had attended three different classroom configurations prior to his present setting. At present, the participant had been enrolled in this environment for three years and had made improvements in self-regulation of his behavior. The participant had been transitioning into the selfcontained designed instruction (DI) for four months prior to data collection. His instructors have been very pleased with the reduction of aggressive behaviors and his ability to participate appropriately. The participant used the skill of asking for a five minute break when he felt overwhelmed or agitated; the instructors also sent the participant to a break if they deemed his behavior inappropriate. This break was delivered by handing the participant a 3x5 index card that had the word Break written on it. The participant would then return to his self-contained autism classroom across the hall. This break system was the behavior goal in the participants IEP. His medications at the time of the study were unknown. The second participant was a 13-year-old male in seventh grade diagnosed with specific learning disabilities. He was placed in a self-contained designed instruction classroom, designed for individuals with low cognitive functioning due to the smaller student to teacher ratio and the severity of his academic needs. The participant received special education services in reading, writing, math and communication at the time of the study. In the middle school, he attended one resource math classroom for a period each day; the curriculum was adapted to meet his low reading skills. Participant 2 was completing math at a 3rd grade level. He was completing reading and writing tasks at a 2nd grade level with 0% accuracy. The communication goal for Participant 2 stated he was completing 4th grade work at 30% accuracy. Participant 2 was referred for special services in kindergarten for speech and language delay and the assessment showed cognitive and academic impairments. Participant 2 had no behavioral issues at the time of the study. He is consistent in participating in class, completing his work, and responding to instructions or directions. At times when peers would be achieving the instructional target of the study, he struggled with the material. When this occurred, he acted very discouraged and failed to participate. However, verbal praise from his nstructors would increase his participation. Participant 2 had additional modifications to his homework assignment. Due to his low reading, writing, and spelling skills, he now completes his homework prior to the end of school, rather than completing it at home. This demonstrated his below-average academic skills. Although he is extremely below grade level, Participant 2 was eager to please instructors and was socially appropriate with peers. His medications at the time of the study were unknown to the classroom and school staff. The third participant was a 15-year-old male in eighth grade diagnosed with Other Health Impaired (OHI). He was placed in a self-contained designed instruction classroom, designed for individuals with low cognitive functioning. Participant 3 received special education services in reading, writing, math, and vocational at the time of the study. He attended one resource math classroom for a period each day. He also attended one general education elective class. Participant 3 was completing reading and math at a 4th grade
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level, and writing tasks at a 3rd grade level. His vocational goal was to decrease the number of redirections in order to complete a task. He was taking medication at the time of the study, but type and dosage was unknown. Participant 3 was referred to special services in 3rd grade for reading, writing, math, behavior, and communication assessment. He was then diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). Participant 3 had displayed behavior issues for three years prior to the study, including defiance and disrespect. He is inconsistent in participation, work completion, and appropriate response to instructions and directions. The participants diagnosis of ADHD was evident through his difficulty to focus on tasks, particularly remain quiet for a length of time. He demonstrated fidgeting behaviors that would often cause disruption to the classroom environment and he would be relocated to a corner desk. During the study, Participant 3 received two in- school suspensions and one out-of-school suspensions within eight weeks for offenses of lying, disrespect and defiance. This study took place in self-contained designed instruction classroom. This classroom was one of three classrooms in the section of the building. These classrooms were separated by partitions, but the classrooms did not have doors to isolate instruction. This physical arrangement allowed hallway noise to enter during times of data and intervention. The participants and peers are seated in table groups. Grouping was changed on a daily basis based upon students tendency to distract on another. Students were divided between two tables. One table had an instructional aide seated with the students. Participants 1 and 2 were regularly seated at the table with the instructional aide who was available to provide specific praise and encouragement. The other table was placed closer to the front of the classroom where the instructor of the study was standing; the proximity of the instructor assisted in Participant 3s on-task behavior. Pretest and posttest data was taken in this classroom, and intervention procedures were also conducted in this classroom. During pretest and posttest data, and intervention procedures a classroom teacher, two instructional aides and a student teacher was present. On occasion, a university supervisor was present in the classroom as well.

2.2

Materials

Our participants were provided an answer sheet and pencil to complete the baseline and intervention data each week. These answer sheets would be numbered for the students convenience and to increase the efficiency of delivering the test. The sheet would also have a clear space provided for the student to write their name and the date. The flashcards used during the intervention were made from 3 by 5 index cards. Words were handwritten in manuscript handwriting of the researcher using low case letters. The words were printed with a marker. The color of the letters varied by week in order for the researcher to distinguish the words from previous weeks words. The classroom had a document camera which was used during intervention for assessing reliability as well as implementation of the independent variables.

2.3

Dependent Variable and Measurement

The dependent measure was the percent of correct spelling. A correct word was defined if it matched the letter sequence listed on the Dolch Primer, First and Second grade Sight Word List (Dolch, 1948). Correct responses were limited to the participants writing the correct sequence of letters when the instructor orally delivered the word. Incorrect responses included the participants writing the incorrect sequence of letters, the omission of a letter in the sequence, or no response. Data were recorded using a permanent product recording system. Baseline and intervention data were taken of all participants and all the other students in the classroom. Also, these data were collected from the participants written response to the instructors oral presentation of the words. Following the completion of baseline or intervention data, the instructor or instructional aide would collect the tests for grading. The data would be recorded on the data collection form (Appendix A). The results of the baseline and intervention data were recorded using a ratio of correct responses to total number of possible correct responses. The ratio was then converted to a percentage and recorded in the appropriate column.

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2.4

Experimental Design and Conditions

A series of AB designs across different word lists were employed (Barlow, Nock, & Hersen, 2008; Kazdin, 2010) to evaluate the effects of a DI flashcards system on the spelling accuracy of three participants. The A was a pretest for a weekly list while B was the posttest after employing DI flashcards and additional written practice for that week.

2.4.1. Baselines Baseline data were collected each week prior to instruction. Words to be spelled were selected by the firstauthor from the Dolch Primer Word List (Dolch, 1948). Also, words from the first and second grade sight word list were selected based upon frequency of use in the classroom writing activities. Ten to 20 words were selected in the various baselines. The first author would distribute the answer sheet and instruct participants and students to write their name and date in the appropriate places on the page. The first author would state the number of the question, followed by the oral presentation of the word the participants and students would provide a written response. In addition to the oral presentation of the word, a sentence using the word in correct context and usage would also be orally provided to participants and students. The first author would repeat the word and sentence several times and walk around the room to view the participants and student progress before moving on to the next word. No questions would be answered during baseline and during intervention data collection on the end of the week spelling test. Following grading the baseline data, the list would then be evaluated to determine how many participants and students misspelled each word. If a word was incorrectly spelled by three of more participants or students, the word would become a word for the intervention list for that week. If less than three participants or students spelled the word incorrectly, the word was not recorded in baseline and did not become part of the intervention words for the week.

2.4.2

DI flashcards and oral supplemental sentence practice

The criterion for intervention caused the number of words in intervention to fluctuate each week. This criterion was established to have intervention words be words that were frequently misspelled by multiple students. Over the course of the study, the number of words in intervention each week ranged from 2 to 6. The words for that week were written on 3 by 5 index cards in manuscript font with a marker. The words were placed on a moveable board at the front of the room; this allowed the instructor to move the board to the front of the room during intervention instruction. The words were displayed throughout the lesson on this board. Each word was removed one at time and placed under the document camera to be displayed on the overhead projector. Each word was identified by a participant or student selected at random. Once the participant or student correctly identified the word, the instructor would then ask the participant or student to create a sentence using the word correctly. This was the procedure to generate supplemental sentence creation practice. If the participant or student responded with a correct sentence, the participant or student would be praised by the instructor for their participation and accurate work. Another participant or student would then be selected to create a sentence using the word. The number of participants or students that shared a sentence varied on the difficulty of the word evaluated based on the baseline data for that week. After one to four sentences were presented, the instructor would then lead the participants and students in direct instruction practice of spelling the word. The instructor would first model the spelling of the word by first stating the word, spell the word in the correct sequence of letters, and then restate the word. The instructor would then instruct the participants and students to repeat the above procedure simultaneously with the instructor. The instructor, participants, and students would all state the word, spell the word in the correct sequence of letters, and restate the word. Finally, the instructor would instruct the participants and students to conduct the procedure without the participation of he instructor. The participants and students would state the word, spell the word in the correct sequence of the letters, and restate the word. Individual
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turns would then be given to multiple participants or students who were selected at random. The instructor would instruct the participants or students to state the word, spelling the word, and restate the word. The number of individual turns would be determined by the difficulty of the word evaluated using the baseline data and responses during choral responding prior to individual turns. If an error was made, the instructor would implement an error correction procedure. This correction procedure was used if an error was made during the response in which either instructor, participants, or students were all responding. If an error was made when the participants and students were responding, the instructor would again employ to the modeling procedure. Following this repetition of the modeling procedure, the instructor and the participants had to respond in unison. When with the participant responded independently with the correct spelling, error correction was no longer employed. The word that was inaccurately identified or spelled would then be revisited following the practice of one other word.

2.5

Reliability of Measurement and Inter Grader Agreement

Inter-observer agreement data were collected 100% of the sessions. The primary and inter-observer recorded data independently on separate data collection forms following the participants completing baseline and intervention data. At the conclusion of the study, these data were compared and agreement scores were calculated using point-by-point procedure for each word. The mean agreement range was 100% with no range of scores.

3
3.1

Results
Baselines 1-8

Participant 1. The average percent of words spelled correctly during baseline was just 13%. The percent correct had a range of 0 to 70%. Participant 2. The average percent of words spelled correctly during baselines 1-8 was 16% with a range of 0 to 25%. Participant 3. The average percent of words spelled correctly during baseline was 54%. The range for baselines 1-8 was 20 to 100%.

3.2

DI flashcards and Supplement instruction 1-8 (DI 1-8)

Participant 1. The average percent of words spelled correctly during intervention was 48% over the duration of the intervention. The percent correct ranged from 20 to 83%. Improvements were found between baseline and intervention for every occasion but one. Participant 2. The average percent words spelled correctly during intervention was 26%. The number correct had a range of 1 to 3, with the total possible ranging from 16 to 63%. For participant 2, improvements from baseline to end of the week tests took place on each occasion, but one. Participant 3. The average percent of words spelled correctly during intervention was 97%. The percent correct on end of the week tests ranged from 67% to 100%. This participant increased his performance from baseline to intervention 7 out of 8 times.

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Fig.1: The percent correct for pre and postests across eight different sets of spelling words.

Discussion

In evaluating the effects of a DI flashcards combined with having the students develop a sentence orally, this study found the strategy to be effective. The use of this strategy improved the spelling accuracy of all participants in the study. Participant 3 reached 100% accuracy of words six of the seven weeks intervention data were taken. This achievement of mastery showed that the strategy is effective was effective with a student with ADHD. The strategy also showed to be effective for Participant 1 who exhibited the most
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severe behavior issues. Although his average intervention data did not reach mastery, his accuracy increased by an overall total of 51%. Our participants benefited from flashcards with oral supplemental sentence creation practice. Participant 2 did not meet mastery any week over the course of eight weeks. The greatest increase he made was from 0% to 40% accuracy. Although this is a slight increase, his progress does demonstrate an upward trend showing that the strategy had an increasing effect on his spelling accuracy. Participant 1s participation was rather inconsistent. He enjoyed identifying the word and creating an original sentence, which allowed him to be successful in front of his peers. Due to his dislike for repeating the same material, he became frustrated during some sessions and would use his break system to either excuse himself or be excused by the instructor. Due to his absence during the choral responding practice, Participant 1 did not receive as much instructional time as the other two participants. He also was absent for three sessions that intervention data were gathered. Participant 2s attendance was fairly consistent, although there were intervention sessions that he would become frustrated and discouraged and fail to participate. He was moderately successful in the sentence creation, although he would fail to state the correct sequence of words during choral responding on occasion. When this error would occur and the instructor would complete an error correction, the participant would become embarrassed and not respond. This was not common, but as words increased in difficulty, the participant would recognize that he did not have the skills and become impatient for the session to end. He would often no participate if he could not perform correctly so that he would not make a public mistake and become embarrassed. Participant 3s participant was consistent due to his eagerness to speak in class. In other content areas, the participant spoke out excessively. The spelling intervention was able to increase his appropriate classroom participation. He was willing to provide sentences when selected by the instructor and would participate in a loud voice during choral responding. The instructor would praise him for his clear participation, increasing his participation in following sessions. The decision to include oral supplemental sentence creation practice was made based upon the mistakes seen by the class prior to beginning the study. Many of these individuals were not using homophones correctly. It became clear prior to the study that instruction with words that sounded alike but were spelled differently needed to occur. In addition to homophones, words that varied in tense were also being used incorrectly frequently in their class work. Based on this informal assessment, supplemental practice of using the words in the correct context seemed appropriate. In intervention, the oral supplemental practice of creating sentences was shown to be challenging for the participants and students. This difficulty showed the instructor that this practice was novel instruction, but necessary for the students to generalize the spelling words into their daily writing. The use of the DI flashcard and error correction procedures replicated much of our previous research with older participants (Erbey, McLaughlin, Derby, & Everson, 2011; Glover, McLaughlin, Derby, & Gower, 2011; Kaufman, McLaughlin, Derby, & Johnson, 2011; Shouse et al., 2012; Standish, McLaughlin, & Neyman, 2012). Clearly, the parameters with respect to what age should DI flashcards be employed remains unclear. We have found differential outcomes when teaching young children with DI flashcards (Ehlers et al., 2012; and Chandler et al., 2012; Higgins et al., 2012). It is our view, that oral supplemental sentence creation practice was a strength. The students were able to gain additional practice with their spelling words. Also, this procedure could be implemented with the entire classroom. The use of sentence creation during intervention increased participation and created excitement with the participants and class. Another strength of the study was the varying number of words each week; this avoided words entering intervention that were already mastered by students and participants. The criteria for three or more students or participants to have incorrectly spelled the work in baseline allowed for the majority of the class to participate in the intervention procedures. A weakness of the student was that intervention was that mastery was not required. Participant 2 did not reach mastery for any week, even when baseline data were conducted for the next weeks words. Individualizing the conditions for participants would have been difficult since our data were gathered with
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the whole class as part of the typical teaching schedule. An additional weakness of the study was that data were not recorded for all students in the classroom. A class-wide recording system may well have documented the effectiveness of the strategy. A final weakness was the lack to data collection in daily work that would have provided a very nice assessment of generalization to written work. This would have been important information. We would also urge that future research gather such data. The suggestion, that it would have been more appropriate to individualize the words to spell for each participant needs further analysis. Cover, copy and compare (CCC) clearly allows individualization to take place (Joseph, Konrad, Cates, Vajcner, Eveligh, & Fishley, 2012; Merritt, McLaughlin, Weber, Derby, & Barretto, 2012; McLaughlin & Skinner, 1996; Skinner, McLaughlin, & Logan, 1997), but there is not any group choral responding with CCC. To implement this would require many procedures to change. The such as the words reviewed each week would include words from previous weeks list that other students have not mastered. It would also complicate the delivery of the intervention procedures. Another suggestion would be to collect data on all students in the classroom. This could demonstrate the effectiveness of the strategies on individuals with various disabilities and levels of performance.

Conclusion

Our design was limited in demonstrating the effectiveness of the intervention since a reversal in conditions was not implemented. A reversal design would show the effectiveness of the intervention strategy and show a clear correlation between the participants intervention scores and the implementation of the strategy. DI flashcards have been showed to be effective in various settings and content areas, but little research has been conducted on the effectiveness of increasing the accuracy of spelling (Hayter, Scott, McLaughlin, & Weber, 2007; Tan & Nicholson, 1997). If a study was replicated the strategy, it would be recommended to study the effects on a larger group of participants.

Ackowledgements
This research was completed in partial fulfillment for an Endorsement in Special Education from Gonzaga University and the State of Washington. The author would like to thank the participants, and the classroom teacher, for their cooperation.

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