Teachers have a thousand tasks to complete every day. Identifying and sharing accommodations is an important one that takes time. This blog post shows a resource that allows teachers to literally shop for accommodations like they shop for items on Amazon or Target.
Accomods is an online source of accommodations for special education and intervention. It is useful for both special education and general education students.
Here is a FB Reel and a YouTube video showing how this works. You can choose to browse for a specific accommodation by topic such as “attending to instruction” shown below. You can customize a plan by identifying strengths and weaknesses and Accomods will provide you a full plan. Or you can search for a specific accommodation.
The resulting plan provides an explanation, examples, and links to implemented examples.
This post details a scaffolded approach for multiplying multi-digit numbers by 2-digit numbers. It was originally created for a student with ADHD who understood how to do the multiplication but would rush and repeatedly made simple mistakes. It is useful for all students.
This grid and color-coding strategy was used as a means of slowing him down. He had to alternate between highlighting and writing each product for an individual multiplication of two digits. This turned out to be an effective way to teach multiplication by 2-digit factors, in general. Here is how this works.
First highlight the ones-digit in and the row for the product that results from the ones-digit. This helps unpack the place value and why the algorithm works. Note: use a lighter color of highlighter (you will see why).
Highlight the ones digit in the top factor. Multiply the ones digits. Write the product. This is where the student alternates, which can allow for thinking through the steps.
Continue highlighting and writing products using the ones digit from the bottom factor.
Now use a darker highlighter to highlight the tens digit in the bottom factor, as well as the tens row at the bottom. Because the 3 is in the tens place, we write a zero. This unpacks the place value.
As was done with the yellow highlighter, alternate between highlighting digits to multiply and write the product in the row below. The darker highlighter is used second to make it visible when drawing over the previously used lighter color.
For carrying (regrouping), the top row can be split and the color can be used for the digits that are carried.
Here is a link to the handout used for these photos. It contains the two problems shown in this post along with blank templates. Here is a link to another post that shows a scaffold I use to unpack the carrying of a digit in multiplication.
Human senses are bombarded by external stimuli: smells, images, sounds, textures and flavors.
We have a filter that allows only some of these stimuli in. We focus on the ones that are most interesting or relevant to us.
Our working memory works to make sense of the stimuli and to package it for storage. It is like a computer, if there is too much going on, working memory will buffer.
The information will be stored in long term memory.
Either it will be dropped off in some random location and our brain will forget the location (like losing our keys)
Or it will be stored in a file cabinet in a drawer with other information just like it. This information is easier to find.
Analogy to Classroom Learning
Here is an analogy to what happens during school instruction. You are driving down the street, like the one shown below.
There is a lot of visual stimuli. The priority is for you to pay attention to the arrows for the lanes, the red light and the cars in front of you. You have to process your intended direction and choose the lane.
Other present stimuli may be filtered out because it is not pertinent to your task: a car parked off to the right, the herbie curbies (trash bins), the little white arrows at the bottom of the photo. There is extraneous info you may allow to pass through your filter because it catches your eye: the ladder on the right or the cloud formation in the middle.
Maybe you are anxious because you are running late or had a bad experience that you are mulling over. This is using up band width in your working memory. Maybe you are a relatively new driver and simple driving tasks eat up the bandwidth as well.
Impact on Students
For students with a disability that impacts processing or attention, the task demands described above are even more challenging. A student with ADHD has a filter that is less effective. One with autism (a rule follower type) may not understand social settings such as a driver that will run a red light that just turned red. Another with visual processing issues may struggle with picking out the turn arrows. Their brain may start to buffer, like a computer.
Often we view disabilities in the context of the individual as a student, or a child or adolescent. The long term effects may be had to understand or extrapolate based on what we see at the younger ages.
There was teacher candidate whom I trained who had ADHD and struggled in the program in which we worked. He shared his struggles to keep up with the programming, organization, and in general, keeping up with the demands placed upon him.
I asked him to write a statement explaining his challenges that I could share with others. The statement is shared below. I hope this can help parent and educators make a more refined connection between the setting at an earlier age with the settings and outcomes the individual will face later in life. I explain to sped teacher candidates whom I train that we have an awesome responsibility and opportunity in how we can impact young lives…when they are no longer young.
Perhaps the vast majority of students with disabilities need support with math. Their challenges with math can be directly related to their disability or can be the result the effects of an ongoing struggle with math. The later results in what is termed secondary characteristics.
When I work with students with a disability, I first seek out background information about the student to identify what interests them, what reinforcers (rewards) can be used to enhance their performance, and what challenges and behaviors need to be addressed. Upon gather this information, I often decide to use a token sheet that is personalized for each student.
Below is an image of such a token sheet. At the start of our work together I felt the student in question needed immediate reinforcement for work completed to get him into a groove. I was also targeting a behavior in which he would draw dots on each digit he wrote, which slowed him down considerably. He would earn a Scooby (I would circle it) in the middle column for completing his work and an extra Scooby in the right column if he wrote digits appropriately (no dots). After 2 sessions, his dot writing dropped significantly to the point that I was able to remove the column on the right. As you can see at the bottom, 5 Scoobies resulted in iPad time.
This can be particularly effective for students who have more severe math anxiety, a fear of failure, or have ADHD. Such a token sheet can be included in the accommodations page of the IEP.
Carrying the TENS digit in a multiplication problem is a sticking point for many students. To address this, I use a task analysis approach to zero in on the step of identifying the product for the ONES as a prelude to carrying.
In the example below, 5 and 4 are in the ONES place and the product is 20. The task analysis steps involved:
compute the product
identify the digits in the product
identify the digit in the ONES
identify the digit in the TENS
Understand that the TENS digit must be carried to the TENS column
By creating a place holder for the product and scaffolding it to differentiate between the TENS and the ONES, the student can visualize the product. This reduces the demand placed on working memory. Once mastery with the place holder is demonstrated, it can be faded (and used as necessary as part of corrective feedback).
NOTE: I started this mini-lesson for a student with ADHD by having him warm up with problems without carrying. Also, extra line below the 60 and 20 are used for multiplying by 2 digit numbers (next in the sequence).
Here is a post on how I use color coding to unpack the multiplication by 2-digit factors.
It is easy to get caught up in the steps and rote memorization when working with fractions. The brain processes information more effectively when the information is meaningful. ADHD makes paying attention to rote memorization of steps even more challenging.
Below is an excerpt of work I completed with a middle school student who has ADHD. This was completed extemporaneously as intervention (you see his initial attempt was incorrect) but can be used as Universal Design in whole class instruction.
Here is a break down of how I helped the student after seeing his mistake in his initial attempt. First, I modeled the first mixed number as pizza pies.
Then I presented the problem in pizza terms. “You have 3 pies and 1 slice and you are going to give me 1 pie and 2 slices. Do you have enough slices?” <wait for response> “You don’t, so what can we do?” <wait for response> “We cut up one of the pies.” I have the student cut the pie into fourths.
I then make the connection with the mixed number and guide the student to taking away 1 pie and writing 4/4. This provides more concrete meaning for writing 1 as 4/4.
In turn, this provides meaning for the new mixed number and meaning for the subtraction of the whole numbers (pies) and the fractions (slices).
This story parallels what we encounter in special education. Several people may encounter the same idea, image, curriculum objective, lesson etc. but have a totally different perspective (see photo below).
To meet the needs of such students we must work from their perspective and not ours. We must meet their needs. We must first take inventory of our bias and our subjectivity in how we perceive students, learning, doing math work etc. Here is a site, Different Brains, that I have not fully investigated but that looks interesting and important.
In the effort to assess student ability performance factors are likely present. It is incumbent upon the educators to mitigate the performance issues to assess true ability.
For example, I conducted an evaluation on a student in middle school who has ADHD. All of her testing records indicated that she would lose focus during the assessment and that the focus was problematic for testing. Before we met I surveyed her on her favorite snack (didn’t know Sour Skittles is a thing), brought this reinforcer along with a bottle of water. She sat through an entire 1 1/2 hour KeyMath Assessment without incident.