In an attempt to create individual learning plans that are meaningful and useful, we have launched a mini inquiry. We are noticing that there is a myriad of accommodations that teachers make without even thinking about them.
- including every child in the lesson
- giving them a choice and a variety of levels of challenge
- starting with what children know
- using calculators to do some problems
- using manipulatives, charts, concrete apparatus
- grouping students with higher reading groups so the story can be enjoyed and good reading strategies are modeled
- rotating groups – use purposeful pairing
- not “frontloading” – rather creating short, meaningful mini lessons
- conferencing to teach at points of need
- gaining the respect of everyone in the classroom by giving it
- taking time to get to know all students; ensuring that what we are asking them to do, on a given day, is thoughtful and thought provoking… remembering that children have bad days too
- having a sense of humor and helping children to develop theirs
- discreetly letting the special needs students know that we understand their learning difficulties and are willing to help them be successful in the class
- providing modifications BEFORE disruptions occur
- being consistent
- avoiding sarcasm
- giving instructions multiple times and in multiple ways. Paraphrasing, writing key points up for everyone
- making reflection a part of every learning experience and using this as assessment
- noticing and naming successes. Modeling this and encouraging learners to do the same
- using a tone and manner that does not make learners feel that they are babies or below us
- using VISUALS all the time, with auditory back-up
- adding icons or pictures whenever possible
- developing a discrete hand signal to use with the student to indicate their need to modify behavior.
Reading and exploring sites like this has given us some ideas for strategies to look out for and to think about in developing plans that are individualized to the specific needs of each learner. They have also made us realize that what we do for learners with special needs are often modifications that are beneficial to all learners.
The image below made me giggle, but it also led me to think about how different it is to know the answer and to be able to articulate thinking and understanding. Formative assessment is a powerful tool when seeking to create modifications and allow students to show what they DO know, before finding things that they do not know.
Some questions to ask ourselves:
1. When and what do I need to teach ALL students in my classroom?
2. How do I use assessment to inform teaching and grouping?
3. How do I ensure that every child is making progress?
4. Is learning engaging? How?
5. How will accommodations benefit not only the special needs students in our classes but all students – don’t they all have needs?