Special Needs – differentiation

As you might now, I’m currently at a special needs school. Our students have learning disabilities and our school does not need to follow the state curriculum. That gives us a lot of space and time to …. support our students individually. As we should. Not just in special needs schools.

However, it is still not a walk in the park… especially not with 16 students in your class. For the first half of the school year, I was responsible for Math in my class, a grade 5/6. Then we decided to change our approach, and to combine classes 5, 6 and 7 for Math and Language. We divided them up into 6 similar-ability groups.

Advantages

  • The students feel much more comfortable in these smaller groups and with students of similar abilities
  • Teachers can focus much more on the students’ needs
  • Learning has increased and sped up
  • Planning has become more focused and as a result…
  • Teaching has become more inquiry-based!

Disadvantages

  • It is hard to work inter- or transdisciplinary, because students go back into their classes after their Math and Language lessons
  • The lessons are often too short
  • It’s hard to be flexible and extend the learning time, because students switch courses (from Math to Language) after 50 min and then go back into their class

All in all though, this is amazing. I am able to do much more with my group of students, and the results are fantastic.

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