The Manus Academic Process
The Manus Academic Process, or MAP, is a teaching process and set of curricula for delivering customized instruction to students with learning barriers. It is grounded in the belief that all students can improve their ability to learn given the right instructional program, delivered in the right environment and at the right intensity. The MAP consists of four steps that guarantee improvement in each student’s ability to learn. The premise for making this guarantee is simple. If the plan does not work, we identify the reasons for the break-down in learning then fix the plan so it does work.
The steps to the MAP are repeatable, measurable and backed by decades of international research on how to teach students with academic delays. The process, developed by Rosanne Manus, M.A., continues to be subjected to rigorous, in-house testing at Manus Academy and updated.
The steps of the MAP are easy to follow. Teachers and administrators who are fluent in the process can usually develop and refine effective instructional plans within a week or two after beginning instruction, even for students with severe learning barriers. They can also make those hundreds of instant and small adjustments during lessons to further improve a student’s responses. There’s no time wasted trying to figure out how to help a child learn well.
The MAP consists of a teacher-training program and, for each academic skill covered by the MAP, student practice packs, homework packs and teachers’ guides with answer keys. Here are the steps of the MAP and brief descriptions of them:
Step 1: Determine the student’s skill achievement.
Step 1 walks the examiner through the process of administering placements tests in reading, writing, math or other skills. In Step 1, examiners: a) identify the skills the student can perform fluently; b) identify the point at which his or her learning starts to break down; and c) note this information on the learning objectives checklist for the targeted skill. The learning objectives checklist serves as the teacher’s working copy of the student’s ongoing achievement in that skill.
Step 2: Determine the reasons for the student’s skill delays.
Step 2 walks teachers and administrators through the process of identifying the root causes of the student’s skill delays. This information is essential. To facilitate learning, teachers need to effectively manage the learning barriers that hinder learning.
Step 3: Develop then deliver a customized instructional plan.
Teachers use the information gained from completing Steps 1 and 2 to develop the customized instructional plan. The plan contains four elements essential for effective instruction. These elements are:
- the learning objectives
- the teaching approach and curriculum
- the intensity at which the student learns and practices the skill
- the accommodations
Each of these elements must be correct. If even one element is off, the student may not be able to respond well to the plan. Here is a brief explanation of each element and its important place in an instructional plan:
- Learning objectives – After completing Step 1 (administrating a placement test or, if desired, a standardized achievement test), teachers note the level of skill at which the student can perform fluently and that level at which the student’s performance begins to break down. The beginning of the skill breakdown is where teachers start instruction, which they note on the learning objectives checklist that covers the skill they are teaching.
- Curriculum – The Manus curriculums for the various English, reading, writing and math skills consist of a series of teacher’s guides with answer keys, student practice packs and homework packs. The pieces of each curriculum incorporate research-based strategies, including the sequence for teacher-directed instruction. The practice and homework exercises are directly aligned with the learning objectives so all interactions between the teachers, students and curriculum lead to skill achievement. The instruction is explicit, systematic, multi-sensory, cumulative and based on skill mastery and generalization.
- Intensity – Learning barriers cause students to learn inefficiently and fall behind their peers. To learn efficiently, they first need a customized instructional plan that enables them to benefit from practice. Then they need intensive practice. If all other elements in the instructional plan are correct, the more correct practice exercises a student completes, the faster he or she learns the skills; therefore, teachers set high yet realistic goals for the number of practice exercises the student is to complete each day. Students with mild or no skill delays, who simply need to maintain the same rate of progress, usually benefit from light to moderate practice in the targeted skills. Students with severe skill delays usually need extensive practice each day. For instance, a student with severe delays in word recognition, reading fluency and spelling will need upwards of 12,000 or more exercises per month in word recognition and reading fluency and 1,200 or more exercises in spelling. They will likely also need intensive practice in the skills that support reading and spelling instruction, such as grammar, usage, phrasing, vocabulary, reading comprehension and written expression. A student with significant delays in math will typically need upwards of 2,000 or more exercises per month in math facts, 400 to 600 exercises in computation, 30 to 50 word problems and additional applied math practice in such activities as those found in shop class, arts, crafts and cooking.
- Accommodations – Some students have severe and pervasive academic barriers that make your efforts to teach and the students’ effort to learn very challenging. Barriers that have long-reaching effects include attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, generalized anxiety, depression, behavioral problems or various sensory problems that leave the student too unsettled to focus. In developing a customized instructional plan, teachers select accommodations that significantly improve a student’s ability to learn by minimizing the otherwise impairing effects of his or her learning barriers. Many accommodations are built into the Manus Curriculums teaching approach and practice exercises; however, teachers sometimes need to add more accommodations, particularly for students whose barriers prevent them from attending to instruction.
Step 4: Monitor and report progress and adjust the plan, as needed.
When working with students with learning barriers, teachers do not want to leave their instruction and the student’s learning to chance. Step 4 walks teachers through the process of counting and recording the number of practice exercises the student completes each day (a measurement of intensity), recording the objectives the student learned because of the practice and deciding if his or her skill achievement is satisfactory.
If teachers are satisfied with the student’s progress, they assume the plan is working and continue to follow it. If the student’s progress is not satisfactory, teachers return to Steps 2 and 3 to examine those factors that hinder success and adjust one or more elements of the instructional plan.
As teachers monitor the student’s skill achievement over time, they also note the factors that facilitate learning, the barriers that continue to hinder learning and the degree to which they interfere. This information is important as it eventually gives teachers and future instructors insight into those conditions under which the student learns best.
Note: Teachers communicate the students’ progress and other pertinent information with parents through weekly progress reports, phone conversations, face-to-face meetings each quarter and additional meetings as needed.
The Benefits of Following the MAP
The MAP works because it helps teachers, who are the most important element of a student’s instructional plan, make decisions that directly improve a student’s ability to learn. In following the MAP, teachers eliminate distractions and focus only on those elements that lead directly to skill achievement. The MAP shows teachers how to select the right goals and objectives to teach, develop the right instructional plan and deliver it at the right intensity and in the right environment. In working with students with skill delays, there is no spinning one’s wheels trying different strategies and hoping they will work. Because we follow the MAP, our students find themselves most often “in the flow” of learning.