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Resources – Adaptations

Many practicing Special Education teachers have found that the most effective and efficient “adaptations” are actually teaching strategies embedded right into daily and weekly lessons, learning activities, and assessment practices. All students benefit from these adaptations while providing the extra advantage of not publicly identifying any specific students.

Any teaching strategies which incorporate visuals and formatting structures have been proven to be of significant help to learners. Below you will find references and examples of several such strategies that scaffold learning, allowing all students to actively learn and to respond in ways which demonstrate their learning. 

Categories: General
Graphic Organizers 


  • BC Ministry of Education Guide to Adaptations and Modifications, August 2009. Includes chart on final page showing the decision path for developing an individualized education plan.
  • Questions and Answers on the topic of Adaptations and Modifications by Lavana Heel. PDF file; Acrobat Reader required.
    This 8-page resource written by a BC teacher answers such questions as: What are the different types of adaptations? Do students who lag behind other students by two grade levels require a modified program? Isn't it cheating to give some students different accommodations or adaptations? Does reading or scribing for a child mean that the subject is modified? ... and many more.
  • Students With Intellectual Disabilities - A Resource Guide for Teachers
    Ministry of Education Special Education Resouce Guide
    This resource guide contains practical suggestions for you. It includes information about: the nature of intellectual disabilities, preparing to teach students and sources of support, involvement in the transitions and changes that will occur from K to 12 and beyond, tips for teachers covering a wide range of topics, along with relevant resources and references.
  • Ministry Resource Guide on Adjudications 
  • 9 levels of adaptations: Children that learn together, learn to live together PDF file; Acrobat Reader required.
    This article outlines the different degrees of adaptations which may be necessary. 
  • A Guide for Developing IEPs for Reading
    by Dawn Reithaug (2005)
    Includes lists of phrases for developing goals and objectives, over 300 objectives, lists of practices and adaptations to attach to the IEP, ways to measure progress. $34.95. To order, contact Stirling Head Enterprises dreithaug@shaw.ca.
  • “The Accommodations Book”
    by Mary Moody and Sheila Suteau
    Another Canadian reference tool which includes many tried and true strategies that yield huge payoffs in the inclusive classroom.
  • Adaptations are Essential: The Early Years 
  • Adaptations are Essential The Middle Years: Reading 
  • NEO (formerly Alphasmart)
    A simple, portable, low cost computer companion with extraordinary battery life. It is great for classroom use for all students.
  • Assistive Technology BC  
  • Assistive Technology BC (ATBC) provides assistive technology resources to make learning and working environments usable for people with disabilities throughout British Columbia.
  • California Distance Learning Project (CDLP)
    The goal of the project is to enable learners access to adult basic education services in California. Topics to explore include information about family, community and work resources. A user can click on the name of the story or article they want to read or watch a video clip.
  • Davies and Johnson Associates Ltd.
    A great B.C. site for adapted novel and content area materials.
  • Designing Outcomes - Another Approach PDF file; Acrobat Reader required.
    From the book by Anita DeBoer and Susan Fister called Working Together: Strategies for Collaborative Teaching. It is reprinted with the author's permission and was first seen in the Learning Assistance Teachers Association (LATA) Newsletter Volume 5, Number 2, Spring 2000. Another way to plan minimal and adavanced competencies for students
  • Differentiating Instruction: A Modified Concerto in Four Movements
    by Rick Wormeli
    Some alternatives to the basic approach of differentiating by teaching slower.
  • “Differentiating Instruction in the Regular Classroom”
    by Dianne Heacox, Free Spirit Publishing, ISBN 1-57542-105-4
    How to reach and teach all learners, Grades 3 through 12. Strategies for changing the pace, level or kind of instructions in response to students’ needs and talents.
  • Teaching in mixed-ability classrooms
    Differentiation first requires the realization that all learners vary in their readiness, interests, and learning profiles.  Teachers can set up classrooms where everybody works toward essential understandings and skills, but uses different content, processes, and products to get there. Differentiation is all about options.
  • ERIC Digests
    These are short reports (1500-2000 words) that provide a basic overview, plus pertinent references; available from their web site: ERIC directory - www.ericdigests.org/eric-digests.html.
    E645: Adapting Language Arts, Social Studies, and Science Materials for the Inclusive Classroom (2003) 
  • Great Classroom Accommodations for ADHD
    Talks about the physical environment of the classroom for children with Attention Deficit Disorder.
  • Inspiration. Software, Inc.
    Great software for webbing, brainstorming, story planning, research writing. It is supported by BC Government so check the price before you buy.
  • Kurzweil 3000: SET-BC's Trainer of Trainers Program (2003)
    SET-BC Learning Centre
    Training module that presents an overview of the features and classroom uses of Kurzweil 3000 software for students who have difficulty with printed material. Includes an overview of Kurzweil 3000 features, skill development checklists, and implementation ideas.
  • Mayer Educational Products
    Carbonless notebooks are convenient for students who need assistance. Three hole punched perforated sheets tear out easy and ready to put into a 3 ring binder.
  • Mel Levine – “All Kinds of Minds”
    When general lesson interventions fall short of an individual’s learning needs, there is a wealth of support and help in the Learning Base section of Levine’s website including:
    1.Thinking with numbers
    2. Mastering the challenges of reading
    3. Getting thoughts on paper
    4. Developing control over attention
    5. Acquiring motor mastery
    6. Understanding ideas
    7. Producing and communicating ideas
    8. Getting organized and having good work habits
    9. Learning to relate to others
  • “Orchestrating Academic Success by Adapting and Modifying Programs”
    by Dawn Reithaug, Stirling Head Enterprises, ISBN 0-9694974-2-3
    An excellent book written by a BC educator, including strategies for reading, writing, spelling, math and even assessment.
  • “Organizing Thinking, Graphic Organizers (Book 2)”
    by Sandra Parks and Howard Black, Critical Thinking Press, ISBN 0-89455-355-0
    This book is chock-full of blackline master visual organizers. It also includes prepared lessons in Language Arts, Math, Social Studies, Science, etc.
  • “Pathways to Understanding: Patterns and Practices in the Learning-Focused Classroom”
    by Laura Lipton and Bruce Wellman, Pathways Publishing, ISBN 0-9665022-0-5
    This book clarifies teaching/learning cycles, enhances active learning. It has many useful strategies that enhance active learner participation and also contains visual formats.
  • “Practical Ideas That Really Work for Students With Dyslexia and Other Reading Disorders”
    by Kathleen McConnell, Gail Ryser, James R. Paton, Pro-Ed Publishing, Austin, Texas
    Practical strategies to help teachers improve reading skills which impact student’s performance in content areas.
    (There are other useful books in this series)
  • Self-Advocacy: Accommodations Chart
    Teaching middle school, secondary and post-secondary students with learning disabilities how to develop self-advocacy skills.
    Source: LATA Newsletter, Volume 5, Number 2, Spring 2000
  • “SmartReading”
    School District No. 40 (New Westminster)
    821 8th Street, New Westminster BC V3M 3S9
    Telephone 604-517-6240 Fax 604-517-6390
    A synthesis of the latest research combined with tried and true strategies that develop both Language Arts and thinking abilities. Active learning and visual formats make this particularly applicable to students with special needs.
  • Teaching Strategies - Nine Types of Adaptations
    From Adapting Curriculum and Instruction in Inclusive Classrooms: A Teacher's Desk Reference, by Deschenes, C., Ebeling, D., and Sprague, J., 1994.

Graphic organizers

Updated June, 2015


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