Category Archives: Accommodations


How can teachers encourage students to do their homework?

Getting students to complete their homework is a huge obstacle that frustrates teachers on a daily basis. I’ve come up with a list of tips that may help you improve your homework return rate.

1. Agenda: Make sure your students have their homework written down. They are more likely to complete their homework if they have their homework written down in their agenda no matter what grade level they are in. Make sure there is a set time during class that they are to write their homework into their agenda that can become a routine. Make sure your assignment is in an obvious place in the room and is written neatly in that spot everyday. I like to have my students write their homework down right after they do the opener or bell ringer at the beginning of the class. This gives me the opportunity to check their agendas during the mini-lesson while they write their notes. I stamp their agendas, which is faster than writing my initials, if it is done correctly. If it is not, I tell them to fix it and wait next to them while they do it. Other teachers like have their students write down their homework at the end of class and then check it. I used to do that but I noticed that at least once a week, I would run out of time and wouldn’t be able to check it or I would create a traffic jam at my door as I checked them as a ticket out the door. Having students write their homework in their agenda at the beginning of class eliminates those problems.

2. Time: In middle school, each core teacher (math, social studies, science, and language arts) should only be giving about 10-20 minutes of homework a night.

3. Ability Levels & Appropriateness: Think about the students you have in your class. Do any of them read lower than grade level? Does someone have dyslexia, ADD or ADHD or other special needs? Do you have any ELL or ESOL students? I have never met a middle school teacher that has ever had a class that was full of on grade level readers and had no accommodations or interventions due to special education, ELL, or the RTI process. Our students usually span from kindergarten level to college with their reading levels. So if you choose to assign a reading assignment out of the textbook or on a tablet, if your school is tech savvy, and it is on grade level (Did you know that most textbooks are actually written above grade for the grade they are approved for?), it will take your students that are on a lower ability level or in special education or receive ELL services 3 to 4 times longer to complete the reading assignment because they will not only have to comprehend but decode as well or their medicine will have run out and will not be able to concentrate. I have a few ideas that can help you get these students to return their homework completed.

a. Rewrite the chapter at a lower reading level for students who are not on grade level. This is time consuming but most teachers will use the same textbook for at least five years so in the long run, it’s really not so bad. Co-teachers can help out with this.

b. Assign only the paragraphs that are necessary to answer the questions that you assigned to make sure they comprehend the reading. Have students either flag the paragraphs with strips of sticky notes or put a light dot next to the paragraph with a pencil. This reduces the quantity of reading they have to do but doesn’t reduce the quality of the reading.

c. Use a slotted reading assignment (slotted notes or questions for each paragraph assigned) that will force them to answer questions as they go through the reading. This will force them to stop while they read and make sure they are comprehending. I recommend doing this only for the paragraphs that are the most important as this may actually increase the amount of time that is spent reading. It is worth it though because it makes sure that the students are comprehending what they are reading. It is a great technique to use as an intervention and as an accommodation.

d. Allow students on a lower reading level, students that have dyslexia, ADD or ADHD 2-3 days to complete reading comprehension homework by breaking the chapter up into several days. A piece of it should be due on each of the days the assignment is spanning otherwise your procrastinators will just wait until the night before anyway and your efforts will be for not.

4. Consistency of Grading: Teachers need to be consistent with grading homework. It should only take a teacher 3 days maximum to return a homework assignment to a student with a grade. The sooner you return homework, the better for the student. They need to see the effects of their effort before they forget about the effort, or lack there of, that they put into it. If you do not plan on grading something, don’t assign it unless it’s to study something like vocabulary which could be graded during a quiz the next day.

5. Quality not Quantity: You do not have to assign homework. If you don’t have something that will help preview, review or enrich then don’t assign it. Do not give students busy work. It’s a waste of their time and because you should be grading everything that they do for homework, it’s a waste of your time as well.

6. Communication with Parents/Guardians: If students are consistently not returning their homework then teachers should contact home. Their parents may not be aware of it.

7. Start in Class: Allow students to begin their homework in class during the last five minutes. This allows you to go over the directions with them and if they don’t understand something then you can explain it to them.

8. Class website: Update and post the homework assignments and the due dates on your class or teacher website/webpage so if students forget their agendas, they can check what they are supposed to do when they get home.

These suggestions are not going to make you have a 100% homework turn in rate. They should help increase it though. If you have more suggestions on how to improve the homework return rate, please comment so I can approve it. I love to hear new ideas and techniques that can help my students.

Written by,

Kasha Mastrodomenico

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