After serving as a Texas FFA state officer in 2018, Josh Witherspoon joined the iCEV team as a part-time employee for 3 years before taking on the role of content development specialist in 2022. Witherspoon holds a bachelor's degree in agricultural communications from Texas Tech University, in which his experience and proficiency in writing, marketing and CTE allow him to effectively communicate the successes of CTE educators and students and the value iCEV has to offer.
For some teachers, the difficult part of teaching isn’t developing content, it’s differentiation. Fifty years ago, classrooms were organized in a teacher-centered manner focusing primarily on completing coursework. As education has evolved, teachers now implement a variety of teaching strategies into each lesson, and those with special populations students must develop teaching strategies to ensure all student's educational needs are met.
A common way to incorporate various learning strategies into the CTE classroom is through accommodations, modifications and extensions. In the article below, we explore the three differentiation strategies and provide examples of how to use them in the classroom.
Accommodations, Modifications and Extensions
Every learner comes into the classroom with a unique skill set, learning style and background when enrolling in a course. When planning lessons, it is important for educators to consider the needs of all students to ensure every student has impactful learning experiences. To meet the needs of all students, educators are tasked with differentiating or adapting learning experiences to ensure success for all students. Differentiations used for special populations students do not make what is being learned easier, but rather adapt to how an individual student learns best.
One way to differentiate learning experiences for students is through accommodation. Accommodations allow a student to take the same work their peers are completing and change how the task is completed. For example, if writing out their answers on a test challenges students, the accommodation could be they answer questions orally or type it out on a computer. The goal of accommodation is not to make the content easier to understand, but rather to make the assignment fit the student’s needs.
Modifications are another means of adapting course work to meet the educational needs of students by changing the standard or what the student is being taught The use of an appropriate modification removes barriers to learning and allows all students to demonstrate mastery regardless of any hindering factors in their education. For example, if students are tasked with learning all 50 states and all 50 capitals in the U.S., have special populations students break the states into smaller chunks or learn fewer states.
The third means of differentiating learning experiences for students is through extensions. Extensions can be used to challenge high achieving students who complete assignments with ease. For example, if students are expected to develop a presentation over a specific crop, an example of an extension for a student might be to take notes on other students’ presentations and identify the most popular commodities. The goal of an extension is to ensure all students are challenged to learn and push their academic capabilities.
Accommodations, modifications and extensions provide support and allow special populations students to achieve the same academic success as other students. Differentiations, like modifications and extensions, benefit students across the educational landscape and add value to education by ensuring access to impactful learning experiences for all.
iCEV Teaching Strategies for Special Populations Guide
Classrooms today are filled with students of every ability, creating even more demand for teachers to provide effective, well-designed lessons for each and every student. To help ease the work load for teachers, we have created a re source to help teachers develop strategies to ensure all students find success in CTE classes.
iCEV’s Teaching Strategies for Special Populations Guide is full of resources including examples of modifications and accommodations to easily incorporate in any classroom. The guide also includes alternatives for common projects and assignments , tips for customizing a student license to meet the needs of any student, group work as well as classroom management ideas. iCEV also now includes accommodations, modifications and extensions in our new lesson plan style and can be found on the iCEV platform.
iCEV understands the value of incorporating all learning styles in CTE classes. While teachers should follow their student’s 504 plan, we hope you find valuable differentiation strategies to help your special populations students excel in this article. Download your copy of iCEV’s Teaching Strategies for Special Populations Guide today and stay tuned for more resources and updates from iCEV.