Language Sensei

A Language Teacher's Journey

Adapting To Support….Adapting For Growth….


My educational jurisdiction is adamant about universal adaptations –  the idea that not only students with IEP’s but any, repeat that with more emphasis ANY student, can access these to show their knowledge.  Rebecca Blouwolff outlines the goals of “all student success” in her article in February’s ACTFL “Language Educator” (check it out!). I started on this journey a few years ago – when I was lucky enough to have a fantastic student with an IEP. She taught be so much  – including the idea that an IEP is something that outlines strengths and not areas of weakness. I included what I learned  in my post “Thank You For Having An IEP.”  I’ve continue to learn more about adapting to support and felt the need to expand on the post…and so ….mode by mode…my small steps in offering adaptations for success..IEP or not…

Interpersonal Orals….My interpersonal orals take generally take 2 classes and involve multiple speaking partners…so to support success students have…

  • Notes – If they need notes to allow them to participate…I let them. No they won’t be fully meeting but they will be confident enough to participate and minimally meet expectations. Even holding a paper with notes is sometimes effective. In my Japanese 11 class a student (with an IEP) used the class ‘resource book’ to participate. The smile on her face at the end when she said “I didn’t need them as much on day 2!” said it all.
  • Multiple opportunities to speak –  It’s challenging in one aspect but supportive in another. What is supportive is the idea of ‘do overs’. It can be precarious when a student is dependent on only one partner. With multiple people,  students will work better with some than others.  All partners offer small bits of language that the student sometimes borrows. So rather than ‘one and done’ I’ve found the opportunity to repeat (and expand) leads to more success
  • An “Understanding” Rubric – All students fear not understanding…and making a mistake. I’ve worked to take that fear out by honouring good communication in the rubric. Students know they can’t fully meet unless they tell their partner that they don’t understand something…and help out if asked. Do they try to self-correct? That’s valued too. It’s not an adaptation per se but it’s a support…and removes the ‘must say it perfectly without hesitation the first time’ fear…

Interpretive Tasks…

  • Reading – Audio – that’s one of my adaptations. Any student who needs it can listen to a recording of the text that they have been asked to read. Admittedly it’s me reading it (recorded on my phone) but its available if needed. I have several students who have found this to help them in reading…Students do the task with their class then come in on their off block  (or at lunch) to listen again (I load the audio onto a page on my blog – they listen – then I take the page down…). Another support is to highlight the general area that an answer is in (and the question that it refers to). Students still must use their understanding to complete but they are more focused on finding the answer.
  • Listening – Like the reading – supporting listening is all about opportunity… they can listen again. (and again). Sometimes I’ve given them a ‘timing’ range. (The answer is between the 35 and 50 second mark).

Presentional Writing…

  • Again it was the resource teachers in my school who helped me to put together ‘organizers’ for writing…I’ve used a fill in the blank/add a sentence strategy for some tasks. For others it’s been a target structure/add a reason/add a detail’ sheet. The full post on this “Scaffolding UP: Learning To Support The “Less Confident” Writer” details both approaches.

As I explore adaptations I am grateful for the insight and support of my students – and the fabulous resource teachers who have much to teach me. Thanks especially to colleagues Liz Bell and Connie Santos who share their ideas, and offer their input as I work to help kids to show what they know…


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