Special Needs – 1- Accommodations in an Online Environment

Teaching Tip Tuesday

As we continue to discuss accommodations for students with special needs one can’t help but think, how can you make accommodations in an online environment?

While I agree that not every child is cut out for online learning, you might be surprised at how well the online environment can support learners with special needs.

Take my student Haley (not his/her real name) for example.  Haley has been diagnosed with ADHD.  This means that Haley has difficulty with: following directions, following open ended writing assignments without clear requirements, turning in assignments on the correct due date, task completion due to issues with focus and time management, organization in general and finally not completing all questions or rushing through a test/quiz.

The online environment would be beneficial for Haley’s disability for three reasons.  First, it would help her with her tests and quizzes.  Second, it would help her focus.  Finally, it would help her with open ended writing assignments.

The online environment would help Haley with her tests and quizzes because since she has a habit to rush through the questions or not complete it, the teacher/parent can enable the show clock feature to show the time left in timed quizzes or tests.  If Haley has the accommodation of extra time, and in this case she does, restrictions could be set up to give her extended time.  Haley gets 50% extended time in my math class and her grades are soaring in the As.

The online environment would help Haley focus more simply because she would be doing her work at home or outside of the regular classroom environment.  Haley and her family would be able to control the environmental factors more, thus helping her to focus.

Finally, the online environment would help Haley with her open ended writing assignments if the teacher enables the rubric feature which allows the student to see precisely what would be graded and how it will be assessed.  Haley might also have the option to submit the assignment orally or by video.  In this case, Haley did not need that accommodation in mathematics.

There are a few challenges Haley might experience if not managed well.  She might experience trouble turning in assignments on the correct due date and time management issues.  As a teacher I post the assignments weekly and reminders.  There are several outside resources that she can use to support her.  If she has a smart phone, utilizing a digital calendar with reminders that pop up would be helpful as well as a schedule.

Haley seems to have managed potential challenges very well and continues to excel in my class with her extended time accommodations.

Are you considering online for your child?  What do you think might be the challenges they would experience?

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