EducationWorld is pleased to feature a variety of book excerpts in collaboration with Stenhouse Publishers. The following excerpt comes from Learning in Safe Schools: Creating classrooms where all students belong, Second Edition, by Faye Brownlie and Judith King (Pembroke Publishers, 2011; distributed in the U.S. by Stenhouse Publishers). The book retails for $22 ($19.80 e-book) and is available on the Stenhouse Web site.
This article shares concrete examples of curriculum adaptations and modifications that support learning in inclusive classrooms. For additional excerpts from Learning in Safe Schools, see Creating an Inclusive Classroom: 7 Key Strategies and “Show What You Know” Assessments in Inclusive Classrooms.
Specific classroom examples help build our understanding of ways to support learning. These examples demonstrate how we try to adapt as much as possible, even for those students with significant challenges. We also try to work toward independence at all times, and are pleased to see that students, once having learned how to do a task, often can work without an adult by their side — a very important achievement!
Math, Grade 6
The area of study is fractions. Many of the students are independently working on practice questions on multiplication of fractions, some with manipulatives and some in groups. One student’s sheet is enlarged because she has challenges with written output. Two students are doing only the odd-numbered questions, as it takes them longer to complete the computations. One student is working with a designated partner, as this helps him focus. These are all examples of adaptations of materials, goals, presentation, and assistance.
One child is working on a modified curriculum. He is using the same sheet as his peers, but is focusing on two of his IEP goals: matching and recognizing numbers from 1 to 10, and recognizing shapes. Today he is to circle the number 6, to draw a square around the number 7, and to draw a triangle around the number 8 wherever they appear. This is cued for him at the top of the page. He is also to match all the appearances of each of these numbers with each other by drawing a line to join them. He is doing this task independently without the help of a teaching assistant.
Spelling, Grade 3/4 Combined
Students are practicing individual spelling words that have been teacher or student-selected. There are a different number of words for different students. Students have been taught various spelling strategies to use when practicing their words, including closure activities; look, say, cover, write, check; sketching; tracing; verbal rehearsal; rhyming; dictating words to partners; and writing words in sentences. This method of implementing a spelling program could be described as an adaptation of a traditional spelling program in terms of materials and presentation; however, as it is the program being implemented by the teacher, the only adaptation is in goals (some students are working on fewer words or more words than might be determined as the norm for grades 3 or 4). One specific student with written-output difficulties is working with adapted material in that he is practicing his words on raised-line paper.
One student is working on a modified spelling program. She is listening to a peer read and practice his spelling words, and is writing the first letter of each word as part of her IEP goal of representing letters of the alphabet.
Language Arts, Grade 8: Readers Workshop
All the students are reading books of their own choosing, from a selection of 10 different choices. These books represent a range of difficulty. The students meet in small groups to share their responses. The purpose of the activity is to connect personal experience with the material being read and thereby enhance comprehension of text. Three students are listening to their book on tape. Two of these students often draw rather than write their responses, and typically summarize orally what they have read. There is a visual prompt by the listening station: “What does this remind you of?” All students are included in the small-group discussions. These are examples of adaptations in assistance, materials, and evaluation.
Language Arts, Grade 5: Class Read-Aloud Novel
The teacher is reading a novel about slavery to the class. Students have a four-square response sheet with the following squares: (1) surprises, (2) laws about slavery, (3) description of where slaves were almost caught, (4) types of food slaves ate. As the teacher reads, students make notes in the appropriate sections. Two students are drawing their responses. One student who is visually impaired has had her sheet enlarged to 11” X 17”; another student who is physically challenged and cannot hold a pen is dictating his responses into a hand-held recorder. These are examples of the adaptation of materials and evaluation.
Two students are working on a modified curriculum. One has difficulty listening for four different areas. His goals have been modified and he is listening for only (3) description of where slaves were almost caught. Another student who is physically and mentally challenged is sitting at a tilt-top desk, using a stamp and making a mark in square (4) types of food slaves ate every time he hears a food mentioned.
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