Date
16 August 2020

Classroom adaptations to support learning in years 9–13

Suggestion for implementing the strategy ‘Prepare for a new student with additional needs in the classroom’

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A 360-degrees-view of the classroom

A 360-degrees-view of the classroom

In every area of the curriculum, the key to using Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is to reduce or eliminate barriers to student learning.

Take a look at this 360-degrees-view of UDL classroom.

Take a similar photo of your classroom. Imagine moving around the space as your new student. Consider:

  • how the student will find resources
  • how resources and work stations are labelled (in text, with symbols, or with images) 
  • is there a quiet space for students to work, a place to stand and work and a place to think or curl up and read?

Walk in your student's shoes

Walk in your student's shoes

Take a walk around the classroom. Use all your senses to consider how the classroom might look, hear and feel to your new student.

Consider:

  • routines and ways of working
  • how you will make assignment timings manageable
  • the practical challenges for students, such as timetabling, the number of books to be carried and the distances between classes 
  • the best listening distance, the use of the FM, seating, indicating who is speaking in a class discussion.

The school environment

The school environment

What does your student see, hear, and feel? How does this affect them?

Consider:

  • the school environment – for example, loud hand-dryers in toilets, opening or reaching into lockers, reaching hooks for coats, lighting in hallways and classrooms
  • the way your school works – for example, the length and timing of lessons and breaks, six-day timetables, time for travel between classes, staff visibility during breaks, communicating routines and changes
  • the classroom environment – for example, loud noises, order and disorder, the location of desks in relation to light and sound
  • the way the classroom works – for example, welcoming and packing-up routines, buddy systems, quiet and busy times, teacher-led, group and independent learning, time allocated for homework.

Specific adaptations

Specific adaptations

Some students may need specific differentiations or adaptations such as:
  • visual supports such a diagrams, pictures, photos, posters, visual timetables, and desktop task cues
  • a variety of teaching methods – many high school students, particularly boys, need to learn by doing rather than by listening
  • templates and frames to support students’ writing as they learn more formal processes
  • assistive technology such as software that reads text aloud or text prediction programs for writing.

Useful resources

Useful resources

Website

Everyone's In: An inclusive planning tool

Publisher: Ministry of Education | Te Tāhuhu o te Mātauranga

Visit website

Universal design for learning in action 100 ways to teach all learners

Universal design for learning in action: 100 ways to teach all learners

Publisher: Brookes Publishing

Price: One off charge NZ$36.55

Visit website

Optimizing the learning environment for students with disabilities

Optimizing the learning environment for students with disabilities

Read time: 55 min

Publisher: Lincoln Land Community College

Download PDF

Next steps

More suggestions for implementing the strategy “Prepare for a new student with additional needs in the classroom”:

Return to the guide “Transitions – managing times of change”

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