Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Modifying Materials for differentiation

Students who have special needs are in your classrooms or sitting at dining room tables trying to do homework or worksheets which pose problems.  The font is too small.  There are 30 problems on a page.  There is no space on the worksheet to write calculations, or the space offered is far too small for normal sized digits forcing the student to write in miniscule script.

Keep in mind that students need space.  They do need to conserve paper, trees and the cost of printing; but we do have recycling these days.  Some students are simply unable to recopy all problems, maintain alignment and accommodate their learning needs on prefabricated instructional materials.

If you have special needs students in your class, consider making one document per unit which incorporates specific features to enhance learning.  Create a word processing document with the equation editor or a program such as MathType.   Use 18 point font or larger.  Place fewer problems on a page and provide ample white/work space for computations.  If you are working on a word problems or fractions, provide a space for drawing a representation of the problem.  This is easy to do if you use the "insert table" function and create a template which confines the problem to one quadrant, the representation to another, the calculations to yet one other and a space to write the solution and perhaps a justification of the solution.

In worksheets that  practice long division, integer operations, equation solving, you can also use the "insert shape" function to add lines for alignment, a number line or a space to insert a times table for reference.  Use the "insert text box" to offer students a place to write the number facts they will use.

On the second day of the unit, open the file again and save it under a new name.  This allows you to double click on the equation and change the numbers without changing the format of your document.  You can do this several times to use as warmups or homework.  Thus, you can even create different worksheets for the same class.  Your gifted students receive greater challenges and your students who struggle get a real chance to learn concepts and procedures in a student friendly format.  I am posting two examples for review.