From the ERIC Cleaninghouse: Book Preview: Eric/OSEP Mini-Library on Adapting Instructional Materials

Article excerpt

Today's teachers have a big job! Whether you're teaching a mixed ability classroom, co-teaching with a general education teacher, working in a resource room, or serving as a consultant, you're working with a diverse group of students who have a variety of instructional needs. You need curricular materials geared toward these different student needs-a one-size-fitsall curriculum just doesn't fit all. To get materials geared to the learning of your students, you may have to adapt the materials you're using.

A new mini-library to be published by the ERIC/OSEP Special Project at CEC provides practical guidance in adapting materials. It describes the kinds of adaptations that have proven to be successful for teachers, identifies the characteristics of materials that will be easy to adapt, and shows how to make these adaptations. This mini-library is for teachers who are experienced at making adaptations as well as those who aren't. It focuses on students with mild disabilities and is directed to both general and special education teachers.

This mini-library is based on research and consists of three books:

An Overview of Curricular Adaptations by Deborah Simmons and Edward J. Kameenui,

Adapting Reading and Math Materials for Kindergarten Through Fifth Grade by Jeanne Shay Schumm, and Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for Grades Six Through Eight by Jean Schumaker and Keith Lenz.

Here we give you a preview of Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for Grades Six Through Eight to illustrate the types of information included in these books.

Preview of Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for Grades Six Through Eight

Many students with disabilities reach the middle grades with skill deficits that will impair their learning in middle school and hold them back when they reach high school. These students may read below grade level, may not be able to consistently write complete sentences, may not fluently know basic math facts, or may have difficulty remembering information.

Such skill deficits are a great disadvantage for students with disabilities when they are included in the general education classroom at the middle-school level.

A Short-Term Measure

While new methods are available for teaching the skills and strategies to be successful learners in the general education classroom, these students will need support to help them keep up while they are learning. Adapting the instructional materials used with these students can be an effective means of providing this support. Adaptations can be used as a short-term solution to increase student access to the curriculum and increase the probability that the student will be able to complete the academic task. They should not become a permanent substitute for intensive instruction in important skills that students will need to become independent learners and performers.

What Are Material Adaptations?

Material adaptations are alterations that are made in the materials students use to learn or teachers use to teach. These alterations become necessary when the materials currently being used act as a barrier to student success. Adaptations might entail altering either the content or the format of the materials. Content adaptations involve changing the nature or the amount of what will be learned. Format adaptations involve changing the way the information is presented to the learner. Format adaptations can be made when there is a mismatch between the design of the materials and the skills and strategies of the students.

For example, if the material is too abstract, the short-term design adaptation would be to provide the student with more concrete examples, analogies, interpretations, or experiences. The long-term instructional goal would be to teach students how to seek more examples, explanations, and interpretations through questioning and research. …