Designing Flexible Lessons for Students with Learning Disability and ADHD
Learning Menus and Choice boards
Incorporating multiple options and choice into teaching and learning benefits not only learners with special educational needs but also other students in the classroom. Providing learners choice in terms of the content or medium or complexity gives them more ownership over their learning and enhances their connection and engagement with the material.
Learning menus are a great tool to provide options to students, in terms of how they want to engage with the content. They make students an active participant in their learning, thus improving their engagement and their self-concept as a learner. The idea is to provide a menu or a choice of activities or worksheets rather than giving the same assignment to everyone.
• Math lesson: Provide three different worksheets based on the same topic, varied in complexity and length. Students can choose which one they want to attempt during that class. It helps differentiate content for students at different learning levels and also provides choice to students. Some students may need support in choosing an appropriate worksheet for themselves, guide them accordingly.
• Literacy lesson: Have all the students read the same chapter or text, but allow them to engage with it in different ways. Let students do a worksheet individually with a mix of MCQs and open-ended questions, or let them illustrate their understanding of the text. They could also work in a group to discuss the ideas and themes presented in the chapter. Everyone reading the same chapter ensures that they have something in common to discuss with their peers, but they can develop their ideas in different ways.
• Choice board: Choice board provide multiple options for an assignment and can be used across subjects and grade levels. Following is an example of a choice board for reading comprehension-
Sample choice board
In today’s class, our goal is to comprehend/understand the given text and share our thoughts.
Your task is
1) Read the given text
2) Select one of the options from the blue boxes to engage with the text further
3) Share your thoughts using one of the strategies from the white boxes
Another way of providing choice to learners is by having stations in the classroom. After teaching a concept to the entire class, explore the concept in various ways by creating different stations. For example, learning through videos or artwork, or solving a puzzle, or doing a worksheet, or working with the teacher etc.
- One way is to divide the stations by activity – understand the same concept through different media. For example, after introducing fractions to the class, one station is playing a game on fractions (physical or digital), one is experimenting, one is solving a worksheet and so on. Students can choose the activity they want to begin with. Allot a time for each station after which students move to the next station.
- Similarly, stations can also be split up based on the sense that they target the most. For example, one station could have an auditory experience, and another could have a kinesthetic (movement) experience, yet another could have a visual or tactile experience. It will ensure that your learners explore the same concept in a multi-sensory manner and will support learners who may have higher sensory needs in a specific area.
- Another way to assign stations is on their learning level. Here, students go to a station that matches their current level of skill and learning. Some students who are more independent or need more advanced work could be together at one station, while some students who need more support or guidance could be at another station working with the teacher. This allows for differentiation in the classroom and provides students with the work that is appropriate for their current levels. The assignment would be differentiated for them accordingly.
Please note, that these stations based on learning levels will and should never be permanent. They should be fluid and keep changing based on what the learners need at that point. Also, in no way, should these groups be used to label students. The names of these groups should be as neutral as names of fruits or colors or plants etc.