Accommodations and differentiated instruction are often confused by teachers. Many teachers believe they are the same thing but they are not.
Accommodations are given to students who have a physical disability, a learning disability or students who are labeled ELL. Accommodations for students with disabilities stem from interventions that were tried during the SST process or the RTI process. These accommodations are written in the IEP. Once the accommodations are written in the IEP, it is mandatory for all teachers to provide them to the student. Accommodations are intended to even the playing field for students with disabilities so that they can be successful in school and in the inclusive classroom. As mentioned before, ELL students are also provided accommodations to help them learn English as well as the content.
The following are examples of accommodations that can be used for both SPED and ELL.
- Provide flashcards at the beginning of a unit
- Provide reference sheets with all content at the beginning of the unit
- Provide a study guide at the beginning of the unit and assign sections based on the material covered in class that day
- Preferential seating
- Spell checker
- Spanish-English Dictionary or Thesaurus
- Interactive Writing that guides them through the writing process
Differentiated instruction applies to all levels and all learning styles from gifted to SPED. Teachers can differentiate instruction by using the same content and deliver it different ways either by using leveling or the Multiple Intelligence Theory. When differentiating instruction using leveling, teachers will simplify the content and use repetition for those students on a lower ability level while going into more detail and using more critical thinking for those with a higher ability level. This is often done with reading assignments but can also be done easily with a co-teacher using the parallel teaching technique while providing mini-lessons to students.
Differentiated instruction can be used to introduce and repeat content in different ways during a mini-lesson. Differentiated instruction using the multiple intelligence theory can provide multiple options of activities that work with the same content. This type of differentiated instruction can encourage the use of student choice which usually leads to an increase in student ownership in education as well as interest.
Accommodations and differentiated instruction have the goal of helping students be successful in the modern classroom. The difference is that accommodations refer to helping a single student with a specific disability and differentiated instruction includes all students in a class learning the same content all being challenged at their ability level while using their multiple intelligence learning style.
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