Response Accommodations in the Classroom: Tips for Teachers

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Kindergarteners and preschoolers love homework. They feel so ‘grown up.’ Teachers in these classes hear the “all by myself” sentences: “I wrote this all by myself, I made this all by myself, I drew this…” all day long. How do we sustain this interest as the students move to higher classes?

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Remember your class has students with the whole range of abilities: the all-rounder, the middle of the road kid, and one who struggles with a diagnosed or undiagnosed learning need. Do you provide your students with a variety of ways to complete their assignments and tests? How do you support your students as they execute the projects and tasks? What can you do to promote student independence in reaching his/her potential?

Ask yourself these questions to plan the response accommodations in your classroom:

Do you give notice of assignments? Are the timelines clear? For example, take a project which gets 25% of the grade. Do you set it up so that the general outline is due on a certain date? Do you then build up the sequence of submissions and presentations—in two weeks, four weeks, and so on? Do the students have a written set of instructions with the due dates for each section?

Do you provide your students with a variety of assignments other than the usual written format? For example, can they make a video or other visual presentations, can they build something relevant to the topic, or enact a play? The most common accommodation used in Indian schools for testing purposes is the multiple choice questionnaire. What other forms of testing do you use to get a comprehensive understanding of the students’ abilities?

If it is a writing assignment, can the student hand in a typewritten piece instead of writing? A majority of schools in India still insist on handwritten work alone. Some students have poor writing skills because of difficulties in fine motor coordination and in some cases, unsteady hands due to side effects of medication. Or they are unable to sit for extended periods of time. Typing reduces the amount of time they have to sit to complete the assignment.

Do you use technology to its full potential? Can the students email you their assignments?

If your student is absent due to illnesses or hospitalization, do you continue to provide class work? Maintaining academic routine helps the student psychologically and to meet his or her educational goals. The student stays on par with peers when he/she returns to class. If you do this, take care not to emphasize ‘grades and marks’ while the student is ill. The purpose is to keep the student on track and maintain as regular a routine, not to introduce more stress into the equation.

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