ERIC Identifier: ED480433
Publication Date: 2003/07/00
Author: Keith Lenz and Jean Schumaker
Source: ERIC Clearinghouse on Disabilities and Gifted Education
Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom. ERIC/OSEP Digest.
When instructional materials present a barrier to student learning, teachers often adapt the materials to allow students greater access to the information to be taught. These adaptations may involve changing the content of the materials (the nature or amount of information to be learned) or changing the format of the materials (the way information is presented to the learner).
For students with mild cognitive disabilities, most adaptations should be a bridge to skill development, not a substitute for intensive instruction in the skills and strategies that students will need to become independent learners. In other words, adaptations should be approached as a short-term solution to increase access to the curriculum and to increase the probability that the students will be able to complete an academic task. However, there may be some cases in which short-term adaptations become permanent adaptations if they are needed by a particular student.
Ideally, adaptations would be designed into curricular materials by the developers, and the built-in adaptations would be broad enough and flexible enough to assist students regardless of their disability. When they are not, teachers must adapt materials themselves, and effective adaptations take time for teachers to design and implement. In some cases, making and implementing adaptations can be more time consuming and complex than teaching the student the skills needed to meet a particular demand.
A careful process can help to ensure that the decision to adapt materials is the correct one and that adaptations will be effective. This digest describes a process consisting of nine steps for planning and implementing materials adaptations.
Step 1. Create a Plan for Adapting Materials
Step 2. Identify and Evaluate the Demands that Students Are Not Meeting
Step 3. Develop Goals for Teaching Strategies and Making Adaptations
Step 4. Determine Whether Content or Format Adaptations Are Needed
When the curriculum is considered appropriate for the student, adaptations may focus on format rather than content. Again, the teacher must identify the critical elements of course content that students must learn: First, identify the critical course ideas or concepts. Then identify the information that must be mastered in each unit to ensure that the critical course ideas are mastered. Finally, determine how students will demonstrate their mastery at the end of each unit and at the end of the course. Format adaptations are made to compensate for mismatches between the presentation or design of the materials and the skills and strategies of the student. In format adaptations, the content is not altered.
Step 5. Identify the Features of the Materials that Need To Be Adapted
Step 6. Determine the Type of Adaptation That Will Enable the Student
To Meet the Demand
- Altering existing materials-Rewrite, reorganize, add to, or recast the information so that the student can access the regular curriculum material independently, e.g., prepare a study guide and audiotape.
- Mediating existing materials-provide additional instructional support, guidance, and direction to the student in the use of the materials. Alter your instruction to mediate the barriers presented by the materials so that you directly lead the student to interact with the materials in different ways. For example, have students survey the reading material, collaboratively preview the text, and create an outline of the material to use as a study guide.
- Selecting alternate materials-Select new materials that are more sensitive to the needs of students with disabilities or are inherently designed to compensate for learning problems. For example, use an interactive computer program that cues critical ideas, reads text, inserts graphic organizers, defines and illustrates words, presents and reinforces learning in smaller increments, and provides more opportunities for practice and cumulative review.
Step 7. Inform Students and Parents About the Adaptation
Step 8. Implement, Evaluate, and Adjust the Adaptation
Step 9. Fade the Adaptation When Possible
For more information and for examples of materials adaptations, see Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom by Keith Lenz and Jean Schumaker.
Deshler, Schumaker, and McKnight, (1997).The survey routine. Lawrence: University of Kansas Press. Guidelines for identifying features of materials that may be inconsiderate of the learner.
Knackendorffel, E.A., Robinson, S. Schumaker, J.B, & Deshler, D.D. (1992). Collaborative problem solving. Lawrence, KS: Edge Enterprises.
Lenz, K. & Schumaker, J. (1999). Adapting language arts, social studies, and science materials for the inclusive classroom. Reston, VA: The Council for Exceptional Children.
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