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Below are topics discussing planning and awareness, instruction and assessment, and social and emotion well-being. The first step to effective differentiated instruction is knowledge and understanding, followed by developing teaching materials and assessment measures so that all students within a classroom can learn effectively, regardless of differences in ability.
Also provided is resources from Alberta Education for adapting the program of studies; specifically math, science, social studies, and physical education.
PLANNING AND AWARENESS
Meet with the student, parents, and the student's previous classroom teachers to discuss necessary supports for the student. This could include information about:
Review basic concepts prior to the presentation of a lesson. Even if the student is familiar with a concept, pose questions to identify accuracy and completeness of understanding.
Implement strategies for getting notes presented during a lesson (e.g., electronic copy of notes, sharing notes recorded by a peer).
Plan in advance the materials and resources you will be using in daily lessons. Ensure availablility in the students' appropriate alternate format at the same time as their sighted peers.
Establish procedures to ensuring student access to textbooks, supplementary, and teacher-made materials at the same time as peers receive a print copy.
Provide additional time to complete assignments, if necessary. If a concept is mastered, reduce the number of practice questions.
Consult with a specialized teacher of the visually impaired regarding access to learning aids and equipment designed specifically for students who are blind. This may include access to visual materials presented in various formats (e.g., bulletin boards, videos, software programs).
If using glassware or other fragile materials, ensure proper storage when not in use, and secured throughout activities.
Properly label items that students use regularly with either a braille labeller or large and clear font. Ensure consistent organization and storage.
Allow for additional time for tests/homework.
Use oral rather than written tests.
Organize instruction to include the use of concrete teaching methods, stressing the relationship among things in the environment.
Use real models, tactile representations and objects for manipulation to support verbal explanations of new concepts.
Implement strategies to ensure the student has access to visual materials presented in various formats (e.g., bulletin boards, videos, software programs).
Use descriptive words such as left and right, and avoid the use of vague terms, such as "over here" or "this," when giving the student directions.
Avoid using worksheets or handouts that are damaged (contains creases or smudges) in such a way that might make the content hard to read
Maintain a high contrast between paper colour and ink colour (avoid coloured paper and inks)
Use black paper with cut outs to help decrease the glare and shine from the white paper (thus only making the text within the cut out area visible to the student).
Assess the student's ability to interpret the information in various assigned textbooks to gain a sense of the visual abilities and limitations of the student.
Provide appropriate lighting accommodations to enhance the student's access to instructional materials.
Reduce glare and enhance contrast to increase the visibility of printed materials.
Ensure the student has sufficient training and practice with low vision devices and adaptive technology to use them as effective tools for learning.
Alternate activities that require close visual attention (e.g., reading) with those focusing on the use of other senses (e.g., listening). Students who are visually impaired routinely experience visual fatigue because of the close reading distance and the effort required to interpret blurry images.
In collaboration with school team members, including parents, implement strategies to ensure meaningful social inclusion of the student.
Based on observation and assessment of the student during social interactions, provide instruction to address identified social skill needs and mastery of age-appropriate social skills and behaviours. Some skills can be taught in a group setting while others may require one-on-one instruction.
Encourage independence by expecting the student to take the same level of responsibility (that classmates have) for his or her learning.
Provide direct teaching of social skills based on observation and assessment. Consider the implications of incidental learning associated with social interaction, and assess the student's mastery of age-appropriate social skills and behaviours.
Prepare to address issues associated with "passing" as sighted, a behaviour routinely exhibited by students with low vision in inclusive settings. The parents and specialist teacher can provide suggestions and strategies to help the student deal with the stress of feeling different from peers.
Alberta Education strongly emphasizes that Blind and Visually Impaired students
should participate in as much of the regular curriculum as possible according to
the strengths and needs of each individual student. Unless there are other
disabilities present, the student should be working at the same level as the
rest of the class. In order to assist teacher s in adapting the POS for these
students, Alberta Education has provided the following resources: