Accommodations vs. ModificationsPosted In Homeschool Assistance | Posted By Susan York
Throughout the school year, our education team fields many questions from parents and other instructors related to modifying curriculum. But more often than not, struggling students need accommodations rather than modifications to the curriculum in order to experience academic success.
Modifications change the content. They change what the student will be expected to learn. For example, a 4th grade student with a modified math curriculum may be expected to master addition and subtraction of 3-digit numbers, while his grade level peers are expected to master the times tables.
Accommodations simply change how the learning of the grade level skills will take place. Let’s look at some simple ways accommodations can be implemented to meet the needs of students with a variety of learning styles and specific disabilities so to create a truly differentiated curriculum.
What’s the Difference?
Accommodations are meant to “level the playing field.” A very common example would be having a student with a learning disability in basic reading listen to an audio book while another student reads the same book silently. The outcome is the same (i.e., the students have both read the same text), but an accommodation has been made for the student with the special need. Similarly, a student with difficulty tending to task may need frequent breaks or a schedule that allows for flexible class time, but he or she may very well be able to excel at the course work.
When does the student need accommodations?
A student who struggles in math, for instance, may be required to complete only 50% of the problems assigned to other students, but that same student may need no accommodations for tasks related to reading if that is his or her area of academic strength. Likewise, you may find that a student struggles with her attention span more during the morning, so you may need to apply more accommodations during that time of day. It is not uncommon for children to outgrow the need for some accommodations as they mature as learners.
If possible, discuss accommodations with your student. Many educators allow the student to help choose the accommodations they think will be most helpful to them. Empowering students to have some control over their own educational decisions can give them a sense of ownership that often leads to stronger work habits and a real feeling of accomplishment as goals are achieved.
Below is a list of common accommodations that can be made for students exhibiting a variety of learning challenges.
Instructional Accommodations – Things the Instructor Can Do
• Provide written instructions to go along with verbal instructions.
• Model all lessons — ‘talk through’ the activities with the student.
• Create a plan for all writing/compositions using graphic organizers.
• Read instructions and/or text aloud to the student.
• Simplify the presentation of information by presenting it in outline form or bulleted lists.
• Frontload the lesson by pre-teaching vocabulary and general concepts to be presented.
• Allow the student to listen to audio recordings of text.
Output Accommodations: Differentiating How Students Complete Assignments
• Limit assignment length. Example: Write 5 sentences instead of 10.
• Allow the student to type lessons.
• Suggest the student use colored pens or pencils while composing text.
• Use speech-to-text software (often included with laptops or computers).
• Recommend the student use features such as spell check while composing.
• Have the student dictate answers to a scribe.
• Allow the student to answer verbally or record his/her answers to quiz/test questions.
• Have the student put new learning into his/her own words as soon as possible after class — talk about what they have learned.
• Adjust the pace as needed. EIW offers an optional 34-week plan to help pace the school year, but it is really all about YOUR student and their journey. It is ok to stop if a child becomes frustrated. “Pushing through” a task rarely produces quality work and can reinforce a dislike for writing or feelings of insecurity.
• Allow the student to help create his/her schedule.
• Provide breaks as needed and some flexibility when possible.
• Set a timer if you feel your student has difficulty with time management.
• Limit anxiety by breaking down large assignments into smaller pieces.
• Use a planner or calendar to keep track of all assignments across your curriculum.
• Adjust the lighting — brighter or more subdued — either can be good.
• Play quiet music. This can help some students concentrate and block out distractions.
• Take tests in the same setting where material was learned.
• Allow the student to choose (within acceptable boundaries) the location for instruction.
• Consider matching the educational setting to the lesson. Example: If you are writing Haiku poetry, go to a park or forest for inspiration. To encourage sensory details in writing, go to the market or a store and then write about all the sights, sounds, smells, emotions, tastes, etc.
• Enroll your student in virtual classes. For students with social anxiety, the virtual setting can eliminate many stressors. In the EIW virtual classroom, students see only the instructor on screen, not one another. Students feel more confident because their questions and comments are viewed only by the instructor.
Looking for a Writing Curriculum?
Essentials in Writing is proud to offer a curriculum that incorporates many common instructional strategies to differentiate instruction for students demonstrating a wide range of learning styles.
Here is what makes Essentials in Writing stand apart from other writing curriculums:
• Lessons are short and to-the-point and can be viewed as many times as needed.
• Students learn a step-by-step process to write well — Consistency is the key to success!
• The EIW writing model includes a plan prior to drafting, simplifying the writing process.
• Each composition is broken down into 5 steps — 5 separate lessons.
• Each lesson is taught on a separate day, so students do not become overwhelmed.
• You can try Essentials in Writing for FREE (no credit card required)! Just contact our customer services department.