Supporting Unique Students

Students with Unique needs exist in every classroom. Finding the right supports can be a difficult endeavour. On this page, you will find lesson plans, assessments and tools to help you find the right solution for your unique students. Good Luck!

Language is the key to our educational system. A student’s ability to work within the confines of the language is directly related to their ability to interact with the curriculum. Below are a few apps that can help students who struggle with the language aspect of learning. You need not confine their use to just your language block, but be considered for the breadth of the curriculum.

Language Resources

Reading

Epic! – You can use this as a website or an app, and provides many high interest reading material that can be read, or have the text read to them.
Bookflix – OSAPAC licensed, this website has a wide selection of texts that can be read to your students.
Tumblebooks – Similar to Epic and Bookflix, and is licensed by many school boards and libraries.

Writing

Google Translate – For quick fast translation to help your ELL students work in their first language, but have you understand in yours.
Read&Write for Google Chrome – A wonderful extension for chrome, it allows students to use their voice to type, have documents read to them, amongst other interesting features.
DocHub – This is another app that works well with Google Drive. You can use this to mark up previously non-editable files (like PDFs, and PNGs). Students can get more creative, and demonstrate their thinking in a variety of ways

Sometimes it is difficult to think about how you are going to modify your lessons to create a situation that is going to give all your students a chance to be successful. Creating lessons with multiple entry points, and scalable learning is daunting at the best of times. Here are a few suggestions for modifying lessons that will help you add universal design to your lessons.

Open the End of your Questions

Most lessons can be rephrased in the form of a question needing to be answered. Your differentiated instruction comes from allowing the students to answer in their own way. Teaching about measuring with centimetres? Consider asking the question “What should you measure with centimeters?”. Make the students reason and answer at their own pace. Do you have a student that is pre-verbal? Have them take pictures with an iPad/tablet/phone/digital camera of their answers. Do they need separation from the pencil to get to their best thinking, have them use explain everything to create their own narrated answer. Looking for more open-ended questions, why not check out Marian Small’s “Open Questions“.

Make Your Walls More Accessible

The walls of the classroom tell the story of our learning journey. They often are inaccessible for our more unique students. Take time to ensure that what you put up is useful to all of students. Do you have some ELL students, have them translate your co-created anchor chart so that both of you have a point of reference, and then they can answer your question. You can even start with their first language on the charts and have them teach your students the vocabulary in their first language. Do you have videos that help students with low language acquisition? Why not use QR codes so that students can access the videos independently. You can generate QR codes easily with QR Stuff – It also gives you the ability to add colour, and embed a whole host of different data.

Broaden Your Assessment

It has been obliquely referenced throughout, but finding more ways for students to demonstrate their knowledge is a must when incorporating unique (and all) students.
You can let your students record their own voice using a variety of apps – from simply recording on an iPad, to more engaging apps like Sock Puppets HD, or Explain Everything.
You can also preload apps like Boardmaker with the images and sentences for students who need the extra information to demonstrate their thinking. Anybody can be good with enough practice.

Summing It Up

George Couros’ latest blog post said it all in terms of how to add technology to our lessons. To paraphrase it was “don’t”. Don’t think about adding in technology, think about better teaching, and use technology that let’s you reach that goal (or don’t, if something else is better). You are the teacher, your art is matching the right tools to the right curriculum. The students don’t need to see it, you do.
Couros Quote

(all credit to George. Read his blog. READ IT NOW!)