Even a first-year teacher will tell you that no two
children learn at the same pace or in the same way. Some need lots of
reinforcement; others "get it" immediately. Some read well;
others get more from listening or from visuals. Some have trouble writing
clearly, but express complex ideas in art or music.
Experienced teachers learn how to spot "what works"
for each student and check to be sure that lessons contain activities
and content that will connect for each student in the class. They also
recognize that each student will require individual attention from time
Adapting a classroom to accommodate a special education
student is a very similar process, but the degree and scope of the adaptation
may be more extensive. The underlying principle, though, remains the same.
Below is a chart showing some of the adaptation strategies common in working
with special education students.
Ways to Adapt Instruction
||Level of Support
the number of items that the learner is expected to learn or complete.
For example: If student is to know the
fifty states, have students only be responsible for remembering a
certain number at a time. This would be dependent on the student's
level of disability.
the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing.
For example: Allow student additional
time to complete timed assignments. However, if the total project
is due by a particular time, have the student complete each portion
of the project over various intervals with the required finished project
due at a later time.
the amount of personal assistance with a specific learner.
For example: Allow for peer teaching.
Pair the slower students with the more advanced students in order
to provide support. Offer some sort of incentive to the more advanced
student for assisting others. Design some type of contract with students
that they could show to their parents indicating completion of their
work and the assistance they are giving to others. Offer this as a
bonus to their grades.
|Adapt the way
instruction is delivered to the learner.
For example: Provide students with a
audio and/or video tape of the lesson. Allow for field trips, guest
speakers, peer teaching, computer support, video productions performed
by students, Incorporate lesson in other subjects areas
|Adapt the skill level, problem
type, or the rules on how the learner may approach the work.
For example: Allow the student to be
creative providing that task is completed according to instructor's
specifications. For example the student may draw a picture of the
assignment, do an interview, etc. depending on subject. Allow the
student to come up with the idea. Accept any reasonable modifications.
|Adapt how the
student can respond to instruction.
For example: Allow students to draw
pictures, write an essay, complete specific computer software program
relating to lesson.
|Adapt the extent to which
a learner is actively involved in the task.
For example: Tailor the student's participation
in a task to his or her abilities, whether intellectual or physical.
|Adapt the goals or outcome
expectations while using the same materials.
For example: In a writing assignment,
alter the expectations for a disabled student who takes longer to
write a paragraph.
instruction and materials to meet a student's individual goals.
For example: Instead of discussing the
reasons for the civil war, have the disabled student work on a puzzle
showing the Union and Confederate states.
from Adapting Curriculum and Instruction in Inclusive
Classrooms: A Teacher's Desk Reference, by Deschenes, C., Ebeling,
D., and Sprague, J., 1994.