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Learner Accommodations and Instructional Modifications

Problems with
Inattention/Distractibility Organization Following Directions Memory/Recall Understanding/Comprehension

Learner accommodations and instructional modifications are designed to support students who have learning problems within classroom settings. However, accommodations and modifications do not replace the need to use effective instructional strategies for students who have learning problems.

Accommodations and modifications include adaptations to the physical arrangement of the classroom, as well as changes to instructional delivery. Such changes can include modifications to lesson presentation, student responses, and evaluation and assessment techniques. Some accommodations and instructional modifications are teacher-oriented (e.g. changes in how the information is presented) and some are focused on changes in how the student engages in and responds to the lesson. In choosing appropriate accommodations and modifications, it is important to consider the characteristics and needs of the student and how these interact with the proposed lesson format. Considering all four components- lesson presentation, student response, student evaluation, and lesson content will assure a more complete match between the student's needs and the classroom activities.

In the following section, suggested learner accommodations and instructional modifications are categorized according to types of problems that students who have math learning problems often display. The categories include: inattention/distractibility, organization, following directions, memory or recall, and understanding or comprehension. These categories are not mutually exclusive. Indeed students who have math learning problems typically have problems in more than one area. It is important to remember that those modifications that require student responses (e.g. using the SLANT strategy) should be systematically taught, and that the effectiveness of the accommodations and modifications should be monitored and changes made as needed.

Problems with Inattention/Distractibility:

  • Systematically teach student how to attend (square shoulders, lean body forward, and focus eyes on work).
  • Use mnemonics such as SLANT (sit up, lean forward, ask questions, nod your head, track the teacher) to help them remember the needed behaviors.
  • Seat student in area free from distractions such as open doors, air conditioners, etc.
  • Keep written assignments and workspace free from distractions
  • Use study carrel.
  • Use proximity seating.
  • Assign a peer tutor.
  • Surround student with appropriate role models.
  • Use color cues such as neon-colored highlighters to direct student attention to important information, key words, and directions.
  • Vary presentation of a task.
  • Allow additional time to complete assignments/tests.
  • Use a digital, silent kitchen timer to help a student who is slow to complete work .
  • Alternate short work periods with teacher-controlled breaks - have this student be your official pencil sharpener, note-runner.
  • Break assignments down into shorter segments.
  • Highlight the number of problems you want the student to complete, provide feedback, then assign the next segment.
  • Provide "windows" cut from paper or cardboard to expose only one segment at a time.
  • Use a line or place-marker.
  • Teach self-monitoring techniques: - Have the student set goals for how much of a task they can complete in an allotted time.
  • Use physical, visual, or auditory signals/cues to redirect student to stay on task.
  • Use class and individual schedules. - Check things off as they are completed.
  • Teach students to highlight operational signs.
  • Have students work each step in a different color.
  • Encourage students to subvocalize while working.
  • Have the student remove all but the material with which he is working from his desk.
  • Talk slowly. Give students advance notice (a physical cue, special word) that you will be saying or showing key information.
  • Try not to copy on both sides of the paper.
  • It is often helpful to use frequent indentations, double spacing, and boxes around key words to provide visual clues.
  • Use games such as hopscotch math to reinforce concepts.
  • Change students' environment.
  • Present material on colored paper.
  • Block extraneous information on pages to limit distractions.
  • Provide copies of work that is on the blackboard or textbook. - Don't have students copy and solve problems.

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Problems with Organization:

  • Create and teach routines and procedures.
  • Provide teacher demonstration & modeling, guided · independent practice, and frequent review opportunities. Use checklists and mnemonics to help students remember the expected behaviors.
  • Color code notebooks and school book covers.
  • Have students "check" unneeded books and notebooks at the door. They can pick up their items as they exit class.
  • Attach things that often get misplaced (pencils) to students' desks with Velcro.
  • Use assignment books and calendars.
  • Check that homework assignments are written down daily.
  • Provide a copy of assignments for home.
  • Check homework daily.
  • Send daily/weekly progress reports home.
  • Provide a time weekly for organizing desk and notebooks.
  • Assign a peer buddy to assist with organization.
  • Create backwards timelines for larger projects. Help students estimate how long it will take them to complete each portion of a project.
  • Provide an outline of the text. · Color-code to identify vocabulary, main ideas.
  • Teach students to identify and highlight key information.
  • Use slot outlines.
  • Teach note-taking skills.
  • Provide page numbers where answers can be found.
  • Provide advanced organizers.
  • Allow student to use a computer to complete assignments.
  • Use graph paper to help students organize calculation problems, or turn notebook paper horizontally.
  • Provide boxes for students to write in answers.
  • Avoid cluttered/crowded worksheets.
  • Teach goal-setting skills.
  • Teach decision-making/prioritizing skills.
  • Teach time-management skills.

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Problems with Following Directions:

  • Have the student verbalize written directions. By doing this, you will detect early errors or misunderstandings.
  • Provide example of completed item. Model or demonstrate each step.
  • Have students check off each step as it is completed.
  • Provide only one portion of the assignment at a time. Divide longer orally assigned tasks into shorter ones.
  • Face the child and speak slowly and distinctly.
  • Provide visual reinforcement as often as possible when you speak to the class.
  • Provide an outline of your lectures; use graphs and tables to reinforce concepts.
  • Provide practice in noticing, describing, and comparing details.
  • Check frequently that the student is following directions.
  • Have students repeat or re-explain directions.
  • Provide visual displays - flowcharts, webs, pictorials, pre-reading questions, and keyword note-taking organizers to help students listen and follow directions.
  • Use a buddy system to clarify directions.
  • Use cooperative learning activities (i.e. 3 before Me).
  • Use mnemonic aids to signal steps (i.e. Does McDonalds Sell Cheese Burgers - divide, multiply, subtract, check, bring down).
  • Teach students to highlight operational signs.
  • Provide visual cues and reinforcement as often as possible in lecture classes.
  • Very gradually help the student learn to take orally presented notes.
  • Give the student extra time to respond to oral questions.
  • Have the student look at you when you speak.
  • Present the key points of a lecture at the beginning of your talk, then summarize.
  • Have students write down each step of a problem and check off as they complete it.

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Problems with Memory/Recall:

  • Provide multiple opportunities for practice in different formats.
  • Use flashcards for individual or group review.
  • Use songs, rhymes, or rhythms to help remember information.
  • Chunk pieces of information together. (For example have students learn the number facts in sets of three).
  • Use acronyms to remember words or phrases.
  • Use mnemonics like "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally" (order of operations) to remember sequenced steps.
  • Help students remember items of a list by visualizing that each is "located" at a different place in a familiar room (for instance to remember 3 shapes that are quadrilaterals, a student might visualize a square on the bed, a rectangle on the dresser, and a parallelogram on the desk).
  • Use semantic maps and diagrams to help students remember the connections between concepts.
  • Re-teach item of information as often as possible, varying the approach a little each time.
  • Maximize the student's potential for success by providing a balance of visual and auditory stimuli in your teaching.
  • Teach students to use self-questioning techniques.
  • Play memory games.
  • Provide the student with a written out schedule of classroom routines and timelines.
  • Allow the student to trace over geometric shapes and other important visual patterns during visually presented lessons.

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Problems with Understanding/Comprehension:

  • Teach the meaning of key vocabulary words.
  • Provide an example of a correctly solved problem at the beginning of the lesson.
  • Provide visual cues to help students who may have difficulty visualizing shapes, dimensions and sizes.
  • Have students verbally or visually explain how to solve a math problem.
  • Provide students with a strategy to use for solving word problems.
  • Introduce only one concept at a time and teach to mastery.
  • Provide many practice opportunities and include problem solving, reasoning, and real-life application to help with transfer of information.
  • Teach students how the textbook is organized and the format for each page or section.
  • Used taped textbooks.
  • Have students "talk aloud" as they complete problems.
  • Model and teach metacognitive strategies (Model and verbalize procedure, guide students through verbalization of problem computation, monitor student verbalizations as they complete procedure, periodic reviews provided).
  • Use cooperative learning techniques such as "jigsaw" or "think-pair-share".
  • Teach in small chunks so students get lots of practice with one step at a time.
  • Provide learning aids such as calculators to help students focus on conceptual understanding.
  • Use estimation throughout the day and have students estimate a reasonable solution prior to starting any computation.
  • Teach facts in families.
  • Demonstrate all concepts with manipulatives.

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