Monday, September 21, 2015

Examples of Modifications When You're NOT in the Classroom: SCIENCE

My piece called Planning for When You're NOT in the Room: Part II has become my most viewed blog post by a landslide. By a mile. By a galaxy. You get it. Anyway, because of the interest in the content I thought it would be great to delve a little more intensely into this topic. Below are picture examples of how I provided meaningful science modifications to allow MORE access (and not exclusion) from the curriculum without swamping the one teacher in the classroom. Keep in mind that these mods and accommodations are created for individual students. My hope is that you see a set up that works for you and then individualize it to meet the needs and strengths of the student and the routines of the science teacher. 

The Journal

Most fourth grade classrooms and above use composition notebooks in order to keep science work organized and in one place. The front cover of the journal might look the same for every student, but the meat inside can be set up to meet the individual needs of a student. In my experience, the easiest way to modify for students for when you are NOT in the classroom is to provide supports that are already cut and pasted into their science journal. If students were expected to answer questions from the text on page 50 of their journal, the modified questions would also be on page 50 of the individual student's journal. The answer to most of my science modification questions: Modify, print, cut, paste, repeat.  

Daily Set Up

In one science class, the students were asked to make their science journals look like the journal on the board.This first set-up example is an accommodation and not a modification. The science teacher printed out 50 or so copies of the journal set-up shown above. The papers were placed in a pile at the side of the room and ANYONE in the classroom who needed this sheet was taught to go over to the pile, pick up a sheet, cut down the paper in order for it to fit into the journal and glue it in. I have also done the cutting part beforehand to minimize the amount of time it takes to get the set-up sheet well... set up. Another tweak I've made is to actually have the sheet glued or taped into the journal before they even get to class. This allows the focus to be on the content only. This is a good tweak for students that need more time to write. 
On the left is a journal set-up sheet in which I filled in the activity and big question. This limited the amount of time needed to look at the board. Another easy tweak would be to make a photocopy of the teacher's example journal which the student could look at while at their desk.

On the right is a modified journal set-up. Instead of asking a "Big Question" or an inference, the student focused on reviewing the key objectives. These objectives were decided during co-planning during the start of each unit and the student would be assessed on them. 
This is an example of a setup that includes partially written notes and writing prompts. This helps students to learn note taking skills and generalize strategies learned in writing class. 

Table of Contents

The one on the left is an accommodation for any student who needs help structuring the T of C. The one on the right is partially filled in. I never want to fully fill in work for a student because it is important for them to have ownership of the work in their journals.


Journals should be modified not only to meet student need, but to focus on important skills and strengths. The student on the right was a gifted artist. The student on the left benefited from seeing a visual in order to understand the vocabulary.

Here are some labels I made for a student that struggled with creating their own visual. In this case, I still wanted them to identify the appropriate picture that matched with the vocabulary word and definition. The pictures were printed on Avery labels. The student used them like stickers.

The Activity

The great thing about science is that the labs are typically interactive and set up in such a universally designed way that most can access. Remember, for some students it's about exposure to the content, the activity, and the social interactions. The objectives assessed and the overall unit goals might be different. Here is a post from The Science Penguin. It includes a freebie with lab team roles and a video (also, below) for how to set it up.   

Universally Designed Group Activities:
  • Individual jobs for each group member
  • Visuals to show science procedures
  • Teacher demonstration
  • Providing examples and word choice for how to ask group mates for help and work with others
  • Hands on!

The Content

The above example is modified from the actual textbook and I didn't want to show you the whole text since I'm not about plagiarism. In this example, students were expected to read the science textbook and answer the reflection questions. I provided a modified text that focused just on the main objectives I made for the student at the beginning of the unit. Other ways to share content:
  • Brainpop
  • Youtube videos
  • Read aloud text on iPad or computer
  • Read aloud text full class/ individually
  • Buddy read
  • Bookshare

Independent Work
Here is an example of a modified analysis questions for the student to answer independently. I cut and taped this into the student's journal before the lesson. 

Both of these are accommodations for students who struggled with the executive functioning aspects of the science journal. They were expected to answer the questions and do the same class work as their peers but struggled with creating organized tables or looking from their textbook and responding in their journals. The analysis questions are cut off since they are word for word typed from the science textbook. I worked with one amazing middle school science teacher that would print out the modifications and accommodations made. She would hand them to students and they would be expected to cut and paste them into their journals. Again, I would do this for students who struggled with the time management of this activity. Cutting and pasting in beforehand is also great for students who resist modifications. I have found that they are much more likely to use them when they are already in their journals as it looks like their peers' work. 

This students "science journal" was an iPad. He kept it in the room and took it home with him whenever he had homework or needed to study for a quiz. Extra sheets were kept in his science folder. 

Going Over Work 
Here's an answer key for a student who was struggling with going over answers whole class. He had modified questions and although the questions were connected with the ones in the textbook, he struggled with connecting them when checking his answers. This was a solution we thought of mid-year and was really successful. I've only ever used this specific support with one student.

What do you do to support students in science class? 

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