Accommodations for the Classroom  with Contributions from Brian Mulder,ESE Program Specialist


   " Think Outside the Box"        

     All students can learn!  If they are not learning, then it is our responsibility as educators to determine how to increase their success in learning.  Therefore, teachers must continually search for effective ways to accommodate students with special needs in order to be more inclusive and responsive to diverse social/emotional needs, diverse academic needs and take responsibility for teaching all students in the classroom.

There are many ways classroom teachers can determine when and how to differentiate instruction.  Some examples include: creating a class diversity profile that provides a summary of the learning differences represented in your classroom; pre-assessing students to determine their readiness for each new unit or series of lessons and; using assessment data provided by the district to inform your instructional planning. 

Students who need accommodations can be informed of audio set up and text readers. Braille transcripts can be ordered from the district office. Allowing students to re-take tests encourages them to re-study and learn material they had not mastered before. This procedure does not allow them to ignore content that is sure to be on tests and unit exams. Classroom websites allow teachers to post practice-tests and evaluation rubrics for class assignments/projects in order to help students measure and participate in their individual academic growth. Providing homework assistance online or by phone enables teachers to assess where students need extra help and to change instruction to accommodate special needs. Lesson plans should be adaptive and flexible in order to provide more individualized instruction to a student or a small group of students as appropriate. When an activity is flexible, it prevents isolation or segregation of students with diverse learning needs. Therefore, web-quests and other types of internet activities that are interdisciplinary, differentiated and multi-leveled allow students to engage in multiple activities both in and outside the classroom.

Below are methods used to address the diverse, linguistic, and exceptional needs of students described in the target population.  These strategies can be incorporated to ensure activities and assessment practices are fair and nondiscriminatory.

  • Set up dialogue journals between teacher and student
  • Plan activities using role play and drama
  • Use student reading logs
  • Write summaries
  • Encourage students to write headlines
  • Write character diaries
  • Have students present information with illustrations, comic strips, or other visual representations
  • Allow students to provide answers and explain processes instead of teacher telling them
  • State / display language, content and meta-cognitive objectives
  • List instructions / process steps and review orally
  • Present information in varied ways (oral, written, demonstrations, with tangible objects)
  • Frequently summarize key points
  • Repeat and paraphrase important terms
  • Provide Word Wall with vocabulary for unit/chapter
  • Have students maintain notebook
  • Have student maintain learning log for meta-cognitive strategies
  • Allow sufficient response time
  • Adjusting teaching style by developing a student centered approach
  • Speak a little more slowly (not louder) and use shorter sentences, avoiding idioms
  • Increase the percentage of inferential and higher order thinking questions
  • Provide correction for language errors by modeling, not overt correction
  • Use cooperative learning
  • Incorporate peer tutoring
  • Explicitly connect learning to students' knowledge and experience
  • Take time to preview and explain new concepts and vocabulary before starting instruction
  • Use questionnaires/ interviews
  • Motivating students and providing background knowledge
  • Use Semantic Webbing and graphic organizers
  • Use Anticipation Reaction Guides
  • Have students brainstorm, then record responses on overhead before starting lessons
  • Use KWL charts
  • Use realia, maps, photos, and manipulatives
  • Do activities where students can interact and move around
  • Have students do hands-on activities and provide demonstrations
  • Use CDs, cassettes and videotapes with books
  • Use a variety of groupings so that ESL students can interact with different classmates (not only the Spanish speaking ones)
  • Provide students with outline of lesson and questions that will be asked beforehand so they have an opportunity to process information and participate more readily
  • The overhead projector is used to model highlighting text, identifying main ideas or new vocabulary or to show pictures.