All lesson plans ought to include multiple styles of learning (visual, auditory, and kinesthetic). The teacher should also create a comfortable learning environment. These are necessary for all students to be successful.
While it is Home Science Tools’ practice to write inquiry-based lesson plans that are geared toward all learning styles (especially kinesthetic or hands-on learning), there may be students who need further accommodations, so their learning can match their capabilities. Use the following suggestions to guide you in constructing an individual learning experience that allows students with differing abilities to excel.
Students with Behavioral/Emotional Special Needs
ADD or ADHD students/younger students with short attention span – Do prep work ahead of time so students can focus on the action. Have students help with a task that they would want to focus on, such as holding a timer or watching for a physical change.
Students who are easily distracted – If one such student is taking a test, offer a quiet place separate from other students or distractions. This may also be helpful during writing or research assignments.
Students on the autism spectrum (including Asperger syndrome) – Clear communication about what will happen in each project and how long it will take is key. Avoid bright lights or loud noises. If a loud noise is part of the experiment, let the student know it is coming so they can expect it. Students with autism may need extra time completing a science notebook entry or other project so they can get it how they want it. (Note: Students with autism or Asperger syndrome are often uncommonly bright and capable. They often remember details exceedingly well. They struggle to stay focused and get anxious when there is a change in schedule or when there is a noise that is distracting to them.)
Students who experience overstimulation of senses – Students who get anxious or tense when too much is going on will appreciate a step-by-step approach. Be sure to explain each step of the activity, and also give students an idea of what is to come during an experiment. While still allowing an inquiry based approach, this will let students be more comfortable with their environment.
Students with Differing Academic Abilities
Struggling readers – Have students follow along in their own textbook as the teacher reads aloud. Build confidence by letting struggling readers read a word or passage that you know they can read well. During internet research, teach struggling readers to scan a passage and look for keywords. That way they won’t spend time reading information that is not relevant to their research.
Strong readers – Let a student who is a strong reader read part of a field guide or other source of information aloud to his or her peers. Show a strong reader a lengthy vocabulary word and see if they can sound it out. Strong readers may also want to read independently to find out more about a subject.
Strong visual learners – These students may benefit from seeing (and holding) a picture, book, or real life model such as a plant, sea shell, or other object. This reinforces knowledge with a clear visual link. Strong visual learners may also benefit from seeing a PowerPoint presentation or short video clip.
Strong auditory learners – Have students recite vocabulary definitions, repeat a word, or tell another student or the teacher what they learned. Auditory learners may also benefit from reading aloud or being read to.
Strong kinesthetic learners – Let students touch or feel as many parts of the experiment as safety allows. Kinesthetic learners will remember a lesson better if they could feel and hold a bean seed, or touch the leaf of a plant, for example.
Students with a strong interest in art – Let students take time to draw details of something they saw that day in the science notebook. Students may be inspired by examples of other scientists who were also artists, such as John James Audubon.
Students with a strong interest in science – Students may wish to continue an experiment or add variables to it. Students also may enjoy recording details of their finding in a science notebook.
Students who struggle with math calculations – Because many branches of science include math, make sure that students understand the reason for including a calculation. What does each number say about science and the world around us? Students may be aided by calculators or by the teacher visually and orally walking a student through each step of the problem.
Students with a strong interest in math – Allow students to prove an example from the science lesson. For example, let a student who excels at math show how the moon is 27% of the earth’s volume using the mass of both earth and moon.
Students who struggle with writing – Allow children to dictate an explanation of a science principle rather than having them write it down or answer a test question. A test could also be read aloud to the student with answers recorded by the teacher.
Students with Physical Special Needs
Students with physical impairments (including a broken leg or arm) – Allow extra time for the student to get around during a field trip or nature walk. Assign a buddy to the student so he or she is not left out of any part of the experiment. For a broken arm, offer to write for the student as he or she dictates.
Students who are deaf or hearing impaired – Provide as many visual and kinesthetic learning opportunities for these students as you can. Make sure the student is looking at you, sitting close, and can see your mouth and hands.
Students who are blind or visually impaired – Focus on auditory and kinesthetic learning opportunities. Let students know what to expect, for example, if there will be a loud noise or something that feels strange. Consider having another student be this student’s buddy and explain what they see to the student who may not be able to see.
Students who have colorblindness – Let students use a limited amount of colored pencils or crayons, so the student can distinguish between several colors and choose which are appropriate to use. You may also accept a drawing as correct (even if the colors don’t appear to make sense) if the student can tell you what color each part of the drawing is.
Students with fine motor challenges – Students with developing fine motor skills may need extra assistance with tasks such as cutting, writing, or other work that requires fine motor skills. Let students “write” in their science notebook by dictating to the teacher what they want written.