When you teach a lesson in your classroom, you can use differentiated instruction to meet the needs of every student in the room. Both regular educators and special educators need to know how to do this because all teachers will be faced with a group of diverse learners each and every day.
With more schools moving to an inclusion model, students with special needs are being placed into regular education classes; even if you don’t have a single student with an IEP in your class, your students will still benefit from differentiated instruction. There are some very easy ways to differentiate lessons in all types of classrooms.
When you plan your instruction, plan with all of your students in mind, not just one or one type. Students tend to learn best through either:
- hands-on methods
So, when you are constructing a lesson plan, try to make sure that all types of learners are addressed. You may not be able to teach in three different ways for every single day, but try to hit all of the learning styles with your instruction each week.
If you like to provide students with notes there are some things you can do to differentiate. Some students may be able to copy all the notes, while others may not. For those that have difficulty copying notes, you can provide adapted notes in which they only fill in a few words.
You can also provide them with all of the notes and give them a highlighter to highlight important concepts on the notes. A copy of other students’ notes may also be a feasible option. You can also record the notes on tape for the students to listen to.
Whiteboard For Discussions
For teachers that ask a lot of questions when teaching, provide students with small whiteboards with which to answer the questions. This takes the pressure off of the students and allows all the students an equal opportunity to respond. An added benefit is that you also know that all students are paying attention.
This is a great way to help students focus on the content you are teaching because in my experience, students love the whiteboards. Give each student a marker and ask her to write her answer on the board and hold it up for you to see when she is finished; this way you can quickly assess the student understanding in your classroom without calling out one student in particular.
Modify Assignment Length
Assignments are another area of lessons that can easily be differentiated. Allow students to choose the problems or questions they want to answer. For example, if there are 20 questions, tell them they only need to do 10. You can also create an alternate assignment for some students that is based on the major topic that was introduced.
Try to eliminate higher thinking questions for students with special needs. If there is an essay, allow them to provide a bulleted list instead. If defining vocabulary words, have them only define the important terms.
Longer assignments, such as a project, should be chunked for students with disabilities. Instead of giving them one due date, break the project up into small sections and provide due dates for each section. It may also be necessary to extend the deadline altogether depending on the length of the assignment.
These are just a few suggestions for how to create differentiation lessons. Remember that each student is different and may require different adaptations in order to be successful. Try some of my suggestions in your classroom; they are very simple ways that you can help.