As special education teachers, our biggest superpowers is the ability to fit the needs of all of our students. Our caseload might be 4 students or 40 students… but we’re over here differentiating and customizing lessons like a boss!
One size is not a fit-all in education. With so many different learning styles in one classroom, we have to be prepared with a large bag of tricks. We have to set students up for success, whether that means errorless learning, matching skills, or something more hands on.
Customizing lessons and resources provides students with more than materials to help them learn. It gives them endless opportunities for success.
Here are some lesson ideas and real-life examples about how customizing my lessons for my students has not only made them more successful in the classroom, but also made me a better teacher.
Many students in my elementary self-contained classroom are working on their fine motor skills, and writing independently can often be a difficult task. To help them be successful in learning to spell, sound out words, identify letters, and write, I like to use magnetic letters to make the task accessible to all of my students.
In the same way that magnetic letters work, you can easily use hook and loop Velcro to make building words interactive and not so rote, but also a way that is portable and individualized.
My students LOVE putty and slime, homemade or store bought. So I started incorporating it into our lessons. Instead of having students write the letters or verbally ID letters of the alphabet, we build the letters using putty.
Not only are we practicing our letter knowledge, but we are strengthening our fine motor skills too.
The best part is how engaging it is for them!
You may be noticing a trend here with writing (because it’s a skill we work on all the time). I have found that by giving students a writing task that involves tracing (you can find free tracing fonts online!), it models what the letters look like and can be something some of my students complete independently.
Counting and writing make for a great cross-curricular lesson. It is one that can be engaging and interactive for all of your learners. Use a dry erase marker on a whiteboard and your students favorite manipulative to practice multiple math concepts. This can be 1:1 correspondence, addition and subtraction, comparing numbers, more or less, colors and shapes… the list goes on and on!
Adapted Piece Book Sets are my favorite way to practice answering “wh” questions and assess my students’ comprehension of a story, all while instilling a love of reading, modeling fluency, and introducing new genres of stories to my students.
How do you customize lessons for your students? Share your success stories in the comments below!