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Simple Study Guides and Strategies for Students with Special Needs

written by: Margo Dill • edited by: SForsyth • updated: 1/5/2012

Teachers often provide study guides for students before a test or with a complicated unit of study. Some of your students with special needs may need more than just a regular study guide. Here are a few tips to create a study guide that will be simple for your students to use.

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    Tip #1: Match Your Objectives

    Helping students with study guides and strategies is part of your job as a special educator. When creating a study guide for students with special needs, it is important to know your exact objectives for a unit of study. The information on your study guide should match these objectives exactly. These are important modifications for students. As teachers, we often give students more information than is required, especially if we are interested in or know a lot about a topic.

    An example of study guides and strategies a fifth grade social studies objective might be -- students can list the causes of the United States Civil War. During class, you taught the main causes, but you also told stories about battles or historical figures. This made class interesting, but it was extra information for any students who might have difficulty with the subject of history; and it might not be important for the assessment. When you make your study guide for the unit test, be clear and to the point. List ONLY the causes of the war on the study guide and not the extra information you provided in class.

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    Tip #2: Make the Study Guide Interactive

    Study guides and strategies are most useful for students with special needs when they are interactive and given as part of an assignment. The easiest way to make your study guides interactive and to start assessing what students are understanding about a unit is to include areas where they are asked to fill-in-the-blank.

    • If you finished a unit of study about simple machines, instead of listing all the simple machines on your study guide, only list four of them and ask students to write the rest.

    Other modifications for students would be providing the vocabulary words that would go in the blanks. When you give students an interactive study guide and you check to make sure they have filled it out, you are also verifying that they looked at the material before the assessment. You also know they comprehended it enough to look in their textbook and fill out a study guide. Make sure to give students enough time to finish the guide and provide time for the teacher to correct any mistakes before the unit test.

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    Tip #3: Write the Assessment Before the Study Guide

    Many of your students with special needs will need specific study guides and strategies. These are modifications for students that are important to make. As mentioned in tip number one, these students do not need extra information on the study guide to distract them. If you write your unit test first and then write your study guide, you will have a more specific study guide for students. If you teach a class within a class and some of your students do not need specific study guides, then create two versions of the guide.

    It is important to provide your students with a useful tool to prepare for the assessment. You can also list textbook page numbers or the dates that you gave certain notes on the study guide in case students want more in-depth information. The important thing to remember when creating study guides and strategies is that you want students with special needs to be successful on their assessments and show you what they have learned. The study guide is an important step in helping them accomplish this goal, and it will be more useful if you are certain about the assessment items before you create the tool for your students.