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Including Children with Special Needs: Individualized Instruction
Ed Clement

Not long after I began my teaching career I realized that I could not get the students in any one of my classes to progress at an even pace, no matter how homogenous they were. Add inclusive children to the mix, and classroom achievement becomes even more erratic. In an effort to even out the achievement of my students, I turned to individualized programmed material like the old SRA cards, and the new computerized instructional materials.

When I didn't find any commercial products that lived up to expectations, I began making my own materials. Over the years I've created hundreds of individualized lessons and I find that individual instructional lessons work best when:

  • They are based on a set of well thought out oral(recorded) or written directions that students follow. Here is an example:
    1. Ask teacher for a DART work sheet.
    2. Put your name at the top of the work sheet
    3. Solve problem one on your DART work sheet.
    4. Use problem one answer to make a dot on your Cartesian coordinate grid.
    5. As you solve the rest of the problems, place a dot on your Cartesian coordinate grid for each answer.
    6. Connect the dots on your Cartesian coordinate grid.
    7. Ask teacher to check your Cartesian coordinate grid.
  • They are project based: paper airplanes, clock faces that are turned into clocks, and cardboard geodome play houses for the Kindergarten are examples of the project based individualized instructional lessons I've developed.
  • They can be evaluated visually: it can be extremely time consuming to check all the work your students do, and this can slow down the learning process. But if that work results in a picture or some other visual image, you can check the work of an entire class, at any stage, in a matter of minutes.
  • You do "just in time" instructing. One of the math tasks that many of my students have trouble with is rounding. When this occurs I give the student a little mini-lesson in the form of a set of illustrated, typed or oral (recorded)directions that will help him/her master the particular skill and proceed with the project. The student works on this mini-lesson at his/her own pace.
  • They are based on modular task sheets: these sheets are independent from the main body of instructional directions and can be easily tailored to the ability level of individual students or student groups.


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