Standard Lesson

Exploring Disability Using Multimedia and the B-D-A Reading Strategy

9 - 12
Lesson Plan Type
Standard Lesson
Estimated Time
Four 50-minute sessions
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In this lesson, students apply the B-D-A (before-during-after) reading comprehension strategy as they explore varied aspects of disability by investigating rich, interactive multimedia resources. “Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project” is a National Public Radio documentary series about the shared experience of people with disabilities and their families since the beginning of the 19th century. The companion website, which features audio transcripts, text transcripts, images, timelines, primary source documents, interviews, and other resources, provides the main source of information for the students' literacy activities. Students will use what they learn to create a visual presentation and answer comprehension questions.

From Theory to Practice

  • High school students need guidance in effective reading comprehension strategies when working in varied content areas.

  • Prereading, during reading, and postreading comprehension monitoring strategies are an essential component of reading instruction that should be explicitly taught.

  • Using the B-D-A (before-during-after) comprehension strategy while reading provides students with a structure to take notes, summarize, and state main ideas that may facilitate comprehension.

Common Core Standards

This resource has been aligned to the Common Core State Standards for states in which they have been adopted. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, CCSS alignments are forthcoming.

State Standards

This lesson has been aligned to standards in the following states. If a state does not appear in the drop-down, standard alignments are not currently available for that state.

NCTE/IRA National Standards for the English Language Arts

  • 3. Students apply a wide range of strategies to comprehend, interpret, evaluate, and appreciate texts. They draw on their prior experience, their interactions with other readers and writers, their knowledge of word meaning and of other texts, their word identification strategies, and their understanding of textual features (e.g., sound-letter correspondence, sentence structure, context, graphics).
  • 4. Students adjust their use of spoken, written, and visual language (e.g., conventions, style, vocabulary) to communicate effectively with a variety of audiences and for different purposes.
  • 7. Students conduct research on issues and interests by generating ideas and questions, and by posing problems. They gather, evaluate, and synthesize data from a variety of sources (e.g., print and nonprint texts, artifacts, people) to communicate their discoveries in ways that suit their purpose and audience.
  • 8. Students use a variety of technological and information resources (e.g., libraries, databases, computer networks, video) to gather and synthesize information and to create and communicate knowledge.
  • 11. Students participate as knowledgeable, reflective, creative, and critical members of a variety of literacy communities.

Student Objectives

Students will apply the B-D-A reading comprehension strategy.

Before reading, students will

  • Brainstorm ideas on disability

  • Read a variety of resource materials to gain background information on disability

  • Conduct a survey on disability, and evaluate and discuss the results to activate background knowledge on the topic of disability

During reading, students will

  • Read, view, and listen to information from a multimedia website to learn about disability

  • Work in small collaborative research groups

  • Utilize a reading comprehension strategy worksheet to synthesize their understanding of the materials they are reading by writing a main idea and a summary statement

After reading, students will

  • Create a visual presentation that highlights their understanding of disability

  • Respond in writing to reflective/assessment questions

Day 1

1. Write the word disability on the board and ask each student to brainstorm a list of related ideas. After students have finished with their individual lists, ask them to share their thoughts and ideas with the entire class. Tell students to save their lists for use later in the lesson activities.

2. As a class, visit Faces of the ADA: Casey Martin to read an article that highlights the experiences of disabled golfer Casey Martin. Ask students to share their thoughts on this article.

3. As a class, explore the following websites to gain background information about disability:
These websites provide students with a positive view of disability. Discuss students' reactions to the information they discover on the varied websites, using the following questions as a guide:
  • What surprised you the most about what you viewed on these websites?

  • How are disabled people usually portrayed in media and print?

  • In your opinion, what value does seeing disabled athletes have on the general public?
4. Tell students that they are going to conduct a survey on disabilities. The purpose of the survey is for students to gain background information on the topic, and see how attitudes toward disabilities have changed through different generations. Each student should ask four people who are older than 40 years old the following questions:
  • How were disabled people treated when you were young?

  • Why do you think people's attitudes have changed regarding how disabled people are treated?

  • What is the biggest challenge facing disabled people today?
In addition, ask each student to record an example of his or her own personal experience with disability to share with the class.

Day 2

1. Ask students to share the results of their surveys and their personal experiences with the class. Lead a class discussion, using the following questions as a guide:
  • What surprised you the most about your survey results?

  • How aware are you of the challenges disabled people face in everyday life activities?

  • How can you increase your awareness of disabilities in your daily life experiences? What is the value of doing so?
2. Divide the class into groups of three or four students. Print a copy of the A Chronology of the Disability Rights Movements. Since the chronology is more than 30 pages, give each group a different section of it. Ask each group to circle the three most interesting facts on this list. Encourage students to make connections between their surveys and the information they learned by reading the chronology.

Have each group share with the entire class the facts they selected. Compare and discuss the students' choices.

3. Introduce the B-D-A strategy to students. This strategy provides a framework for students to use before, during, and after reading. Provide each student with a copy of the B-D-A Strategy Worksheet and explain the three sections.
  • Tell students that the "Before" section is a place for them to list what they know about the topic of disability before they begin reading. (In this case, students can refer back to the list they brainstormed on Day 1 and background information from their surveys and class discussions.)

  • Explain to the class that the "During" section of the worksheet is a place to write brief notes on the information they find while reading. Instruct students to place a check next to the statements in the "Before" section of the worksheet if they find information as they read that confirms what they have written.

  • Tell students that the last section of the worksheet, "After," is to be used for two purposes. First, students should write a summary of what they have learned, and second, they should write three questions based on what they learned that could be used to quiz other readers.

Day 3

1. Divide the class into small groups and tell students that they are going to explore a website called Beyond Affliction: The Disability History Project using their B-D-A Strategy Worksheets. This website features a National Public Radio documentary series about the shared experience of people with disabilities and their families since the beginning of the 19th century and will provide the main source of information for students' small group research.

2. To begin, ask students to complete the "Before" section of the worksheet by referring to their brainstormed ideas on the topic and their class discussions.

3. Next, tell students to use the "During" section of the B-D-A strategy worksheet to take notes as they explore the different parts of the specified website. Encourage students to explore the audio transcripts, text transcripts, images, timelines, primary source documents, interviews, and resources on the website to learn more about the topic.

4. After students have finished exploring the information on the website, ask them to complete the "After" section of the worksheet by summarizing the information they have learned and writing three questions that are phrased so that only readers of the website could answer them. [You may wish to have students quiz each other after all of the worksheets are completed.]

Day 4

1. As a class, revisit the students' "Before" sections of the B-D-A Strategy Worksheet. Ask students to then share what they learned from the website with their classmates.

2. In order to complete the worksheet, students will need to write a one-sentence main idea statement. Discuss the difference between the summary and the main idea with your students. For example, you may tell your students that a summary contains a series of facts. A main idea is the key overarching idea that is presented. In this activity, the summary may highlight the different facets of disability, yet the main idea is that we have changed our ideas about disability over time. This is a difficult skill, and you can continue to practice this distinction using other examples from your own class activities. Practice writing main idea statements as a class and then have students write individual main idea statements on the B-D-A Strategy Worksheet.

3. Ask students to share their main idea statements with their classmates. Discuss and compare the differences in students' statements.

4. After students have shared their ideas, ask them to reflect on what they knew about disability before they read, what they learned as they read, and what they were able to summarize after they read.

5. Have students work in pairs or small groups to create a visual representation that highlights the changes in what students learned about disability as they participated in the lesson activities.

6. Ask students to present their work to the class and explain how it represents what they learned about disability before, during, and after reading.

7. Post students' work to share with the school community.


Prompt 1:
"The reason that people with disability are often thought to have had no history is really that they've had no recorded history. Only recently have there been any histories of disability. It's been partly because society has denied that there was anything important to be learned. It was partly because, as with any minority group, the people were so of the Other that they were never given any of the tools to record any aspects of their history: 'history' would be, supposedly, only one of successes, of the heroes of the society, not those who had difficulty, in some ways, fitting in. So, people with disability have followed the paths of people with color, and women, of trying to reclaim what has long been lost."

– Irving Zola, 1995 (Source: — Click on the tab "Evidence")

Prompt 2:
Several people prefer the term "differently-abled" to "disabled."

Student Assessment / Reflections

  • Ask each student to complete the B-D-A Strategy Reflection Questions as part of the lesson assessment.

  • After students have answered the questions, spend time with each student individually to discuss how they used the B-D-A strategy to more effectively comprehend what they read.

  • Ask each student to write directions on how to use the B-D-A strategy for someone who is unfamiliar with it. Use the students’ responses to assess their understanding of the strategy, and follow up with students who may need further instruction. You may also wish to have someone use the students’ directions to actually teach the strategy, and assess their effectiveness.

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