How can I teach a SWAN (Student With Additional Needs) in the regular classroom?

There is so much you can do. Adaptations and differentiations will benefit all students not just students formally diagnosed with learning differences.

Learning differences ignored, become learning disabilities.
As an experienced teacher, you may be doing many of these differentiations and adaptations already. Make sure your school has a dyslexia policy to guide all teachers in regard to their responsibilities and help the learners manage their expectations. The Dyslexia Foundation offers a wealth of advice.

If cognitive challenges are the issue,  differentiate the curriculum by:

  • using earlier curriculum levels for the topic the class is studying. Earlier achievement objectives may more closely match the student’s capability.
  • Do activities that are lower on the Bloom’s Taxonomy.

If learning differences are the issue, within the bounds of your learning objectives for the students you could adapt the resources, learning experiences, or the assessments to suit the learner and their objectives.

Adapting Resources

Depending on what is available to you, some ways to adapt resources may include:

  • Simpler text on the same topic
  • Simpler text on the same topicText with pictures,
  • Video rather than dense text
  • Audiobooks
Adapting Learning Experiences

Some ways you can adapt learning experiences:

  • Plan using UDL principles
  • Enlarge print
  • Use only black or blue pens for whiteboard information
  • Allow the student to sit in the best place for them to work
  • Construct a storyboard rather than write an essay
  • Interview a knowledgeable adult rather than research
  • Restrict resources to make inquiries less daunting (supply fewer texts, use wiki for kids rather than the whole internet)
  • Do fewer Maths examples
  • Provide formulas
  • Use concrete materials
  • Pre-teach subject-specific vocabulary
  • Allow pair/group work
  • Allow students to say “pass” in oral reading sessions in class
  • Allow the student to take home a text prior to using it in class
  • Highlight critical sections of a handout
  • Teach using visual supports on a whiteboard such as keywords/ diagrams
  • Use Youtube clips/posters to illustrate concepts
  • Allow a student to record instructions if given verbally only
  • Be available to answer questions privately (move around groups)
  • Use aids such as calculators/ electronic dictionaries if appropriate
  • Use concept maps to teach
  • Use metaphors/ allegories to illustrate concepts
Adapting Assessments

Some ways you can adapt assessments:

  • Use simple English
  • Simple sentences and well-sequenced instructions when setting assignments
  • Read the assignment aloud to the class
  • Allow the student to use dictate to a writer
  • Use a reader
  • Allow for extended time
  • Use a separate room
  • Use speech to text software
  • Mark for content not literacy accuracy
  • Give a choice of format if applicable (power point/speech/essay/ annotated sketches/performance)
  • Ensure assignments are broken into steps rather than a general instruction
  • Provide templates/ subheadings/ sentence starters
  • Allow open book assessments
  • Provide a study guide for tests
  • Use multi-choice questions/ cloze exercises/true-false questions/matching pairs
  • Be accessible for questions about assignments
  • Have checkpoints for specified steps for lengthy assignments
  • Give specific timely feedback in private