Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Modify and Accommodate?...Okay.

It's the seventh day at school where I'm at, and I was just thinking that interims were due in 3 short weeks time. I thought maybe several readers may be in the same boat, and that now would be a good time to share some modifications/accommodations/tidbits I do in the classroom. I strongly believe that children need to feel successful, no matter how small that success may seem to you, the teacher. I try to do everything I can to help my students feel that success.

A friend of mine asked me once to share some of the "tidbits" that I use in my classroom at a staff meeting. I thought that I would share some of the things I do with you. I'm always looking for ideas to use and would appreciate any comments/posts of the same sort. They may not be modifications/accommodations but they are always helpful. Not all of my own ideas are of the sort. If you have a question, feel free to ask. =)

Here are some simple things I do that I can think of off of the top of my head.

  • A lot of IEP/RTI students are visual learners. There is always difficulty transferring information from the classroom board to the paper. An easy fix--I tell my students that they are more than welcome to move closer to where I am any time they choose to. The classroom carpet is situated in the front of the room for this purpose. I also have carpet squares they can use.
  • Self-Made Tests--If you make your own test for a particular topic, the test CAN and SHOULD be modified, and color-coding is a good idea. I also sometimes will create a test with 5 problems as opposed to 10, there may be less choices, there may be picture-answers instead of words. Also, allow students to draw a picture instead of write if they need to. Below is a simple continents and oceans test that I modified to help my IEP/RTI students. The concept is still being tested, but the modified piece is "friendlier." If students have difficulty writing a lot of words, I work with them to number their choices and then have them put the numbers in the boxes. Abbreviations work well, too.

  • Ready-Made Tests: What if the tests go with a program we use like Everyday Math? Do I have to take that test and create a new one? I haven't. Again, color-coding is key, and I do a lot of highlighting. I also shorten the test or extend the students' time. The questions meant to drive your instruction?--I usually don't ask my IEP/RtI students to do those because I know they will need help with those concepts any way. I WILL ask them questions, now or later, if I want to check their progress or analyze what they need help with.
  • Multiple Choice--Highlight half of the possible answers, eliminating the other half.
  • Two-Column worksheet with words on one side and answers/definitions on the other side--color-code them to group them: i.e., 4 are orange on both sides, 4 are green, 4 are blue, etc. In essence, they are taking several smaller tests rather than one big large one. 
  • Highlight important information and questions.
  • If the class writes 6 sentences, have them write 4.
  • Shorten spelling lists. Focus on word families.
  • Writing--They dictate and you write or they can have a partner (the one always finished first with good quality work) write for them.
  • Writing--You write it in pencil. They trace it in marker. Again, they can have a partner for this as long as the partner writes neatly. Below is an example of a writing project we just did. One student has Asperger's and the other does not. The writing looks good on both of them.

  • The students above also sit beside each other in class. This is a great tool to use in the classroom. Do you see how it can be helpful?
  • Reading--"Books-on-Tape." There's no reason why a student can't feel like part of a group because he/she cannot read at the same level as the class. Usually struggling students have very good comprehension skills and are able to join a reading group with some partnering, help from the teacher, and a good book-on-tape. If I can't get a book-on-tape, I make it myself.
  • Reading--Make a "modified chapter book (or grade-level book)."  Write in a book? Oh, no!...Ohhhhhh, YEESSS! I've not tried this particular idea in the classroom. In truth...I came up with it as I was editing this post. (I did say they were off the top of my head...) Since I'm on a color-coding kick, why not try highlighting a chapter book. Highlight the book the night before as you read it, only getting the sentences that you believe help with comprehension, eliminating extraneous info. Ask the student if they see any other important sentences that need highlighted. What a great comprehension conversation and they get great lit. at their grade level! =)
These are a few of my "tidbits" I use in my classroom. I tend to be an "in-the-moment" girl, so, as I find myself using other things in the classroom I promise to share. If you see a child sitting in the back of a room and being discluded, help out by sharing some of these ideas and your own. (Also, see how color-coding can eliminate all the words not highlighted and still give comprehension? Always allow them to ask questions and feel COMFORTABLE asking them.)


Enjoy your Labor Day!


  1. Would you be willing to share your modified continents and oceans map? I love it! Thanks,

  2. @ Ursula. I put both Continents and Oceans quizzes on my "Freebies" link for you. Glad you can use them. =)

  3. Becca,
    Thanks so much. My team will deinitely use these. Thanks for posting them.