Monthly Archives: September 2011

What is the difference between an accommodation and differentiated instruction?

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
  • Repetition
  • 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. offers social studies differentiated instruction materials.  Check it out!

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico


What accommodations can be given for GA Studies?


Accommodation Ideas for SPED in GA Studies

GA Studies or Georgia History is a social studies class for the 8th grade in the state of GA. Accommodations are given to students who are considered to be SPED or ELL. An accommodation is different than differentiated instruction because accommodations are given to a specific student for a specific need. Accommodations can also be given to students who are going through the SST process. In this case the accommodation acts like an intervention.

One accommodation I gave to students when I was the content teacher as well as when I was the SPED teacher in a co-teaching situation was to provide flash cards with the vocabulary, important events or people on them. I gave the flash cards out at the beginning of the unit. The students were allowed to use them before the class started or when they had extra time in class. They also used them to study at home with their parents.

Another accommodation I used to give for GA Studies was a preview, reference and review page for each unit based on the GA Studies State Standards. This is a multipurpose packet. I used this packet in the following ways:

  • Breaking it up and handing out the review sheets (keys) at the beginning of every unit to SPED and ELL as an accommodation. They then used this as a reference sheet throughout the unit which saved time in class during opening and closings, note taking, class discussions, activities and helped the parents help their children with homework and studying.
  • Study guides as note sheets
  • Study guides as study guides before unit tests for all students
  • Study guides and review sheets were handed out as a big packet for studying for the CRCT.
  • Catch students up on content due to transfers, sickness, absences etc.

This packet goes through every GA History state standard in the order that the state of GA framework suggests but does not include the Connecting themes in GA History unit 1 of the frameworks.

  1. Early Natives in GA and Geography
  2. Exploration and Colonization
  3. Statehood
  4. Civil War-Reconstruction
  5. The New South
  6. The 20th Century
  7. Post WWII Georgia
  8. Civil Rights
  9. Modern GA
  10. State and Local Government
  11. Adult and Juvenile Justice System
  12. Personal Finance

It lists the standards and then either lists or charts the facts, events, people, etc. that are in the standard along with a definition, importance of, or explanation of whatever is listed or charted. There are study guides that can be filled out by students and a key to go with it. It is written in Word so it is easily modified to meet your needs as a teacher. This is available at

Accommodations for vocabulary and content can help students who are labeled as SPED as well as ELL by providing the assistance they may need to flourish.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico (Connect with me on

Hierarchy graphic organizers can be used to differentiate instruction

Hierarchy Graphic Organizers help to Differentiate Instruction

Triangles can be used as hierarchy graphic organizers for content such as the food pyramid or social classes. They can provide the percent of each food or population in each social class. Hierarchy graphic organizers can also be used to help teachers differentiate instruction.

Differentiated instruction is when each student in a class learns the same content by doing leveled assignments or by using different multiple intelligences.

In order to differentiate instruction by using levels, a teacher may provide a key for or include a certain amount of content in the hierarchy graphic organizer for a lower level while the other students in the class use higher critical thinking skills by deciding which content should go where in the graphic organizer.

In order to differentiate instruction with a graphic organizer by using multiple intelligences, a teacher may offer a choice to students whether they want to draw a picture and or use writing to fill in the graphic organizer. This can bring in both the logical and spatial multiple intelligences. offers teachers graphic organizers that can help teach hierarchy as well as many other kinds. These graphic organizers are great because they each include text boxes so that including content can be quickly done.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

What is an example of a cycle graphic organizer to be used for differentiated instruction?

Cycle Graphic Organizers can Help to Differentiate Instruction

Graphic organizers are a great way to differentiate instruction for learning cycles in any subject area. This is because cycle graphic organizers can differentiate instruction in three different ways.

  1. By using them to bring in different multiple intelligences
  2. By using them to level/scaffold/tier assignments
  3. By using them for remediation while other students are getting enrichment

A graphic organizer for a cycle can be created simply by using a circle as a base and drawing equally spaced lines off of it to represent the different parts of the cycle and also to allow text to be added and sometimes even drawings. One great resource for graphic organizers is All of the graphic organizers on the site have text boxes which allows teachers the ability to add content quickly on the computer in order to differentiate instruction for an assignment or part of their lesson plan. Those with a higher ability level would get a blank graphic organizer to encourage a higher level of critical thinking while those on lower ability levels will have more guidance as to where to put the content they are organizing. Graphic organizers can also use drawings to increase the amount of differentiated instruction by adding to the logical multiple intelligence with an increase of the spatial intelligence.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico (Connect with me on