Within the instructional settings, there are two curriculum frameworks; the subject-oriented and the learner-centered curriculum. As the name suggests, the subject-oriented places more emphasis on the content of the subject area and not the learner. The framework focuses on cognitive development and knowledge acquisition of the whole group of students and relies on textbooks and curriculum guide for instruction. By contrast, the learner-centered curriculum focuses on the student, recognizing the individual needs of the learner and taking into account the needs and special interests of the student. The framework places more emphasis on the social and personal issues of the student, attempts to reinforce independence and self-determination within the instructional setting. Additionally, the learner-centered curriculum encourages student input to the content during delivery of instruction. Ideally, the learner-centered curriculum model is most suitable in the current educational settings that advocates for equity and quality for all students, more so in an instructional setting that includes students with learning disabilities. In essence, when designing the delivery of curriculum, and in order to meet the learning needs of the learners, it is critical for instructors to consider curriculum modification to accommodate students’ particular need. Thus, to meet the learning needs of Grace Jenkins – IEP, the most appropriate curriculum modification to the “Social Studies Lesson Plan” is accommodation.
Curriculum Modification – Accommodation
In the education literature, schools are often referred to as communities, where students work together towards the achievement of the academic goals, including students with learning disabilities (Richards & Dooley, 2004). Virtually, one factor used to ensure that all students are learning is the curriculum goals and learning objectives as outlined by the state or local education departments. For students with learning disabilities, their achievements are often determined with the completion of learning goals and objectives outlined in their individualized education plans (IEP). Usually, the goals and objectives do not reflect the standards in the general curriculum of students without learning disabilities. In this context, curriculum modification in existing curriculum is an effective way of creating accessible learning environments to support students’ needs and special interests. According to Walters & Fisher (2012), embracing the notion of accommodation and curriculum modification is one of the most important components of meeting the needs of students. Thus, as a part of curriculum modifications, accommodation is a term used to refer to the modification of the delivery of instruction or the performance of the student. Most importantly, it accommodation does not change the conceptual difficulty or the content of the curriculum. As Walters & Fisher point out, accommodation is providing a way for a student to be able to achieve the learning goals easily. For instance, in a case where one child is short, the teacher could bring a chair for the child to step on and reach the same height as others. On the other hand, with a child in a wheelchair, the teacher could instead bring down the height to the child. By doing this, the teacher modifies the task so that the student is on the same level as their peers.
Modifying the Curriculum to Align with Specific Components of Grace Jenkins – IEP
Essentially, there are several examples of accommodation, which include incorporating different types of teaching devices and techniques within the instructional settings to meet the needs of the learners (Hall, Vue, & Koga, 2004). Such include use of audios tapes, technology, graphic organizers, pictorial representations, the timeframe for learning, think state test accommodations, word lists, and study guides. Among these methods of accommodations, and according to Grace Jenkins – IEP, the most appropriate is the use of assistive or adaptive technologies. Ideally, assistive or adaptive technologies do not address the curriculum specific learning; rather it is adopted to help the student to overcome difficulties of inaccessibility due to individual differences (Bray, Brown, & Green, 2004). In an actual classroom, although Grace Jenkins speaks well orally, she has difficulties with writing and understanding the spoken language. In particular, she has problems expressing herself in writing or understanding her teachers when information is communicated orally. In this case, Grace needs to have tools that help students who struggle with writing. The tools are meant to help Grace circumvent the actual task of writing while facilitating proper spelling, punctuation, grammar, and word usage. Such tools include word-prediction software, portable word processors, and proofreading programs. Along with writing, Grace has difficulties with processing spoken words. Grace could use assistive technologies such as optical character recognition technology that allows users to scan printed materials into the computer, where the text is then read out aloud. Virtually, in order to achieve this, the teacher should be able to avail the spoken material in written form for Grace to scan and store on her computer. Another type of accommodation is providing Grace with audio books that allow her to listen to text with special playbacks that enables the user to search and bookmark specific pages and chapters. In addition to the above, the teacher could also provide Grace with variable-speed tape recorders that allow the user to capture spoken information and play it back later. Similarly, apart from delivering assistive technologies to Grace, the teacher should also consider extending the period for Grace during the formative and second part of the summative assessments in order to meet her learning needs and to give her an equal opportunity to participate as her peers.
Meeting the Learning needs of Grace Jenkins
It is important that students with learning disabilities get meaningful opportunities during the general education curriculum, receive instructions, and interact with peers in the classroom. Ideally, the curriculum modification is intended to meet the individual needs. Teachers assess learners’ outcomes and then design the curriculum enhancement to support the student needs and make learning more student-centered. In the case of Grace Jenkins, the modified curriculum will incorporate specific writing functions to help in the promotion of the student writing skills. The modified curriculum also involves addressing the inability of Grace to understand oral presentation by the teacher. The inclusion of assistive technologies such as the audiobooks will help Grace to engage in reading sessions with auditory support. Through this type of accommodation, the student will be able to acquire the same content knowledge as others and be able to move to the next stage of learning with them. Similarly, by recording the teacher’s oral presentation, this makes it easy for the student to be able to listen to the teacher later during her independent studies and understand better.
As conceptualized above, curriculum modification contains potential benefits not only for the students who require special support but also for their peers who learn within the same instructional setting. Ideally, curriculum modification nurtures increased positive behavior and learning productivity. With this, the general education students will experience a more optimal learning environment, mutual understanding, and increased interactions. Thus, curriculum modification benefits students with not only learning disabilities but also other learners within the same instructional settings with no special needs or interests.
Bray, L. M., Brown, A., & Green, T. D. (2004). Technology and the diverse learner: A guide to classroom practice. Thousand Oaks, Calif: Corwin.
Hall, T., Vue, G., Koga, N. and Silva, S. (2004). Curriculum Modification.Wakefield, MA: National Center on Accessing the General Curriculum. Retrieved from: aem.cast.org/binaries/content/assets/common/publications/aem/ncac-curriculum-modification-2014-12.docx
Richards, A., & Dooley, E. (2004). Curriculum modifications for students with learning disabilities. Advances in Special Education, 16, 95-112.
Walters, Genevra, Edd., & Fisher, Laura. (2012). What Works for Special Education and At-risk Learners: A Framework for General Education Teachers and Administrators. North America: Trafford on Demand Pub.
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