Curriculum modification consists of potential benefits for not only the students who need special support but also other students who learn in the same learning environment at any age levels. For instance, general education students may benefit from modified curriculum designed for the students with behavioral problems in general classroom settings. Through the increased positive behavior and learning productivity of those students, other students in the same classroom may receive more optimal learning environment and opportunities for mutual understandings and more interactions. In another situation, integrating student’s linguistic and cultural needs may provide other students with the opportunity to learn new language and culture and may increase their multicultural awareness and mutual respect. In short, when a particular group of or individual students in a classroom benefit from curriculum modification, there is a great possibility that other students receive benefits as well. The mutual benefit can be planned as a shared goal like in the process of overlapping curricula. Or, such shared learning can naturally occur in our everyday teaching.
It is important for teachers to know that various factors affect the effectiveness of curriculum modification. Teacher’s understandings of students’ backgrounds, resources and materials, and school support are some of the important factors to consider. Professional development opportunities are especially necessary in order for teachers to improve their skills and knowledge in curriculum modification.
In actual classrooms, modifying curriculum may require teachers to use their creativity and flexibility. For instance, they may need to form small groups for some students during lesson or practice differentiated instruction (For more information, see the literature review of Differentiated Instruction on the CAST website http://www.cast.org/publications/ncac/ncac_diffinstruc.html) as needed. Teachers may also need realistic numbers of adults working in their classrooms and vitality to make extra efforts to modify existing curriculum. Switlick (1997) suggested that curriculum modification becomes successful when it includes FLOW: Fit into the classroom environment, Lend themselves to meeting individual student needs, Optimize understanding for each student, and Work well with the activity planned for the lesson.
Curriculum modification can be applied to general classrooms in multiple ways in order to enhance learning potentialities for all students. Only when contextual factors and principles of successful modification are taken into consideration, and the modification is well designed to fulfill individual students’ needs determined through extensive analyses and assessment, does curriculum modification play a vital role to move students forward in their learning.
Links to Learn More about Curriculum Modification
A Process for Making Changes in the General Education Curriculum
This article is made available by the Chicago Public Schools website and it contains suggestions for potential accommodations and modifications to instruct students with disabilities for general education classroom teachers. Examples are included to help introduce a process that teachers may follow to teach students with disabilities using general education academic standards. The article begins with a brief overview of standards-based instruction and then includes a list of considerations for teachers.
Curriculum for Learning Disabled Students: More Than Just Textbooks and Workbooks
The National Challenged Homeschoolers Association Network (NATHAN) supports this website and this article was written by Dr. John Sutton. The article includes a traditional and modern definition of curriculum and argues that commercially produced educational products may not be appropriate for students with learning disabilities. Dr. Sutton provides many suggestions for how to approach selecting educational materials for home schooled children and how to go about employing these materials to teach students with learning disabilities in a home school curriculum.
This link provides access to a wealth of information on working with students who are considered “special needs” because they are gifted. The links within this site provide information on the needs of gifted students and how they differ from other children in the classroom as well as suggestions for accommodating these students. Some links provide specific information, others provide the user with source information on a particular topic, and other links provide access to research on the topic. The home site is copyrighted by “Carolyn K,” and the site, called Hoagies’ Gifted Education Page.
This link connects the user to a convenient list, composed by Dr. Deborah E. Bums from the University of Connecticut, of the major elements that need to be considered in curriculum modification. The site provides an “at a glance” reference. The home site is maintained by Deborah Gahres and provides other information on the SAGE program of the Framingham, MA public schools. It is a resource for educators working with students with special needs of giftedness.
Margaret Wilson, a special education teacher from Longmont, Colorado authored the article found on this web site. The article contains ideas for teachers about curriculum modifications for students with special needs in a multitude of subject areas. In this article, Ms. Wilson answers many questions about supporting students with special needs and behavior management strategies that can be used for students with special needs in the general education classroom.
Modifying the Elementary Curriculum for Students of Special Needs: A List of Ideas
This web page was written by Jan Demontigny from Farm Hill Elementary School in Middletown, CT. The article is a bullet point list of various curriculum modifications that Mrs. Demontigny has employed in her general education classroom to help students with disabilities. The list includes nine suggestions and an explanation for why they each assist students with disabilities in the general education classroom.
Philosophy of Curriculum Modification http://barrier-free.arch.gatech.edu/Articles/philos_curric.html
This brief is located on the Barrier Free Education Website created by the produced the Center for Rehabilitation Technology and the IMAGINE Group at the College of Architecture at Georgia Tech. Barrier Free Education is a resource site devoted to facilitating the access to math and science education for students with disabilities. This particular article provides a philosophy of curriculum modification.
The information found through this link provides teachers with practical and do-able strategies for curriculum modifications. Suggestions are provided for modifications of both assignments and assessments, for students with special needs in a regular education classroom. Although these suggestions are mainly geared toward a mathematics curriculum, they can be carried over into many other subject areas as well. The home site is operated by “Connected Mathematics Project” and provides a wide array of information from curriculum and assessment to research and professional development.
Students With Intellectual Disabilities: A Resource Guide for Teachers
Developed by The Ministry of Education of British Columbia, Canada, this web site is an information resource. The ministry is dedicated to providing a high quality education for children in Kindergarten to Grade 12 so they can develop their individual potential and acquire knowledge, skills and attitudes to contribute to society. This informational piece focuses on curriculum modification and provides six examples of curriculum modifications that teachers may want to employ in their classroom. Additionally, it provides answers to a multitude of questions related to the IEP process and how to transform broad goals into objectives. This is one of several informational articles provided on this web site for teachers and parents.
The ABC's of Curriculum Adaptation http://www.pbrookes.com/email/archive/april01/april01ED2.htm
Universal Design and Curriculum Adaptation in Maine
This website contains information about the implementation of Universal Design (UD) and assistive technology programs in the state of Maine. The Maine Consumer Information Technology and Training Exchange (CITE) Project, ALL Tech, and CAST, Inc. collaborated on an internship /workshop to make assistive and UD technology available in Maine for students with disabilities. The link provides information on the program and implementation in the state of Maine. The authors include a section listing common questions about AT, and provide resources for commonly asked questions. Maine CITE is a statewide project designed to help make assistive and universally designed technology more available to Maine children and adults who have disabilities and maintains this web site.
This site is the homepage of Monroe Everyone Together, a group who supports full inclusion for all students, despite the type or severity of disability. Monroe Everyone Together supplies parent to parent support, information, networking and advocacy training for parents of children with special needs. To get a copy of a Template for a Curriculum Planning Modification Form, click on the “Printable Files” link from the main menu and choose Curriculum Planning Modification Form. This form is a tool for teachers who have students with special needs in their classrooms to help ensure that all students attain the maximum benefits from the instruction.
“What Are Teachers Doing to Accommodate for Special Needs Students in the Classroom?”
This web site contains an article from the Electronic Journal for Inclusive Education written by Brenda Stevens, Caroline Everington, and Stacy Kozar-Kocsis. The authors sought to research these questions (a) if type of disability a student may have affects the frequency of curricular modifications made for the individual, (b) if special education and typical students receive the same amount of curricular modifications, and (c) if there is a relationship between modifications made for special needs students and for average students. This article outlines what the authors did and findings on these topics.