Monday, May 21, 2018

12 Practical Strategies to Teach Grade-Level Curriculum to Students with Disabilities

It's a fact that students with intellectual disabilities must be participating to the maximum extent possible (and with appropriate supports) in the classroom lessons and activities

To do so, we presume competence in the student's ability to learn and participate in education. In other words, we can't assume that the student with cognitive issues will not learn what we are teaching. 

However, teachers and parents often wonder how the student with intellectual disabilities can be taught in a grade-level class with grade-level content. This is a legitimate concern. Understandably, some of the concepts of the lesson may not be at the learning level of the student - particularly if the student is on a modified program

So, one of the most common questions I hear with regards to inclusive education is, how can teachers keep students who work below grade level engaged and learning during class instruction? Well, in addition to providing a modified lesson activity, teachers need to back up and think about providing instructional supports and modifications to the lesson delivery. 

Thus, I have put together a list of strategies that teachers can use to reach and teach students with intellectual disabilites during classroom instruction: 

1. Outlines - Give a partially completed outline of the lecture that the student fills in at key points before, during, or after the lesson. 

2. Lecture Q & A - Give student a handout that asks questions about concepts in the lecture. Student answers questions as lecture is given. 

3. True or False? - Give student True or False questions to answer during lecture.  

4. Concept Mapping - Student draws a concept map as the lecture progresses to demonstrate understanding of lesson.

5. Doodle Notes - Student illustrates a concept or idea from the lesson during or after lecture. 

6. Focused Listening - List several main concepts given during the lecture and have students check off the concepts/make notes about concepts as the lecture progresses.

7. Scavenger Hunt – have student look for key vocab and concepts in lecture text

8. Pre-read – have student read text, watch videos, and/or complete a related activity prior to the lecture

9. Watch – have student watch teacher-created or recommended video and/or interactive lessons prior or during lecture

10. Guided Note Taking – teach student how to take notes through guided note taking. See the following for more info: 

11. Pre-read Lecture Notes – give student the lecture notes prior to or during instruction.

12. Audio Recordings – have student listen to a developmentally appropriate audio recording on the topic during lecture.

Do you have any more strategies to add to this list? Comment below!!


  1. I love using guided notes to ensure that the entire class is engaged during whole group! However, sometimes you just don't have the time to create them. It looks like the focused listening activity could be a good alternative when time is lacking. Thanks! Could incorporate the doodling idea with the focused listening activity, right?

    Also, thanks for the idea of regularly incorporating videos into "lectures".

    Have you seen how some folks use foldables that engage students and help them organize information? If you have any suggestions for SIMPLE foldables that can be created and used quickly/easily, please post.

    1. I haven't seen foldables but will let you know if I do! Thanks for commenting!