I get a lot of questions about how I modify instruction and accommodate for Special Education students.
Here’s how I modified students’ instruction last year in a 5th grade science classroom. I had 10 students last year with an IEP (5 in two of my three classes). This seems like a lot of work and I’ll be honest, it is! But it was a good use of my time to see how successful my students were when they were provided with these accommodations. Of course since every student has different needs, different things are provided. This is just a summary of how I provided the accommodations.
Here are the common accommodations that were commonly listed on IEPs:
During district tests or teacher-made quizzes, I had students sit at a table and I read each question aloud.
I give all directions aloud anyway. Usually, they are written down too. I read them and have students repeat them back to me.
Students can have an extra day to complete an assignment or I reduce the assignment length.
Study Aids/ Manipulatives:
Students make models, learn vocabulary through hands-on opportunities, keep notes and information in their science notebooks, maintain a vocabulary notebook, and refer to anchor charts and acronyms posted in the classroom.
I meet with students in small group as often as possible for about 15-20 minutes at a time to review previously taught material. This is done while students work in stations.
This depends on the student. Usually (s)he sit near a peer that enjoys helping others and works well with the student. I’ve seen this play out extremely well in several learning partnerships. The seat is in close view of the teacher when doing a whole group lesson.
Check for Understanding:
Sometimes, I check in with students during warm-ups or while setting up notebooks to preview the information. During the 10 minutes of Output time, I check in with students to make sure they understand the lesson.
I use verbal praise for effort most often, as well as the PBIS reward system.
Note Taking Assistance:
Students are provided with notes that have blanks to fill in. They are responsible for adding key words and illustrations. During lessons with notebooks, they fill in what they need to make sense for them.
Here are some additional supports I’ve used:
- Peer Tutoring with Learning Partners during stations
- Retyped tests/quizzes so the print is larger, language is more clear, and there are fewer answer choices for multiple choice questions
- Differentiated reading options
- Online learning opportunities
- Help students with setting up notebooks (pre-cut materials for some students or help with writing)
One of the Best Things You Can Do:
Know your kids. Know what works for them. If you’re not sure, ask them! Give them different things to do and ask which helped them understand the most.
I hope this helps you generate ideas to assist your students in special education!