Unit IV: Curricular strategies for inclusive education

4.1  Curricular challenges for students with disabilities and twice exceptional children

4.2  Need for curricular adaptations

4.3  Inclusive practices; Adaptations, accommodations and modifications

4.4  Types of curricular adaptations

4.5  Differentiated instructions and Universal design of learning












4.1      Curricular challenges for students with disabilities and twice exceptional children



Inclusive education is educating all students in age-appropriate general education classes in their neighborhood schools, with high-quality instruction, interventions, and supports to succeed in the core curriculum. Inclusive schools have a collaborative and respectful school culture where students with disabilities are presumed to be competent, develop positive social relationships with peers, and are fully participating school community members.


When schools move toward changing their culture and instructional practices to fully include every student in their community, collaborative teaming of professionals leads to improved instructional practice. With increased collaboration, overlapping, and sharing of roles and responsibilities replacing role isolation, change is essential.

As such, inclusion is a change process rather than an event. The process involves fundamental changes in the work-lives of teachers, with a significant impact on their identity. Both principals and teachers will be challenged to monitor student progress and teacher satisfaction as they continue to make adjustments as necessary.

Despite the benefits, there are still many barriers to the implementation of inclusive education.


·      Leadership: lack of vision and support for a shared understanding through dialogue, resources, or skills development

·      Attitudes/Beliefs: an unwillingness to embrace a philosophy of inclusion or to change existing practices

·      Instructional Practices: an inadequate understanding of general education practices and how students with disabilities can participate in general education instruction while providing specialized instruction in unique education goals


·      Professional Development: an absence of adequately skilled personnel and a limited investment in training for professionals to assist them in learning and implementing inclusive practices

·      Resources: funding shortages for materials, equipment, and technology as well as barriers resulting from overcrowded facilities and inadequate time for planning and collaboration between staff members

·      Educator Preparation: a disconnect between university course content and program focus on the skills and knowledge required to teach students with disabilities in general education classrooms successfully

·      Physical Barriers: economically-deprived school systems, especially those in rural areas, and poorly-cared-for buildings that restrict accessibility

·      Organization: education systems are rarely conducive to positive change and initiative when decisions come from the school system’s high-level authorities whose initiatives focus on employee compliance more than quality learning

·      Standardized Assessments: the increased emphasis on accountability measures like standardized assessments for all students coupled with many policymakers not understanding or believing in inclusive education prevents it from moving forward in a meaningful way


Overcoming the many barriers to inclusive education will be difficult. Decades of research show better outcomes for people with disabilities when they are included. Authentic inclusion is happening in schools and districts around the country and the world (some nearing 90% inclusion rates or above for many years). This progress did not just happen, but is the result of careful planning led by educational visionaries and strategies that promote effective inclusive education.


Curriculum as barrier : a rigid curriculum that does not allow for experimentation or the use of different teaching methods, or that don’t recognize different styles of learning

In any education system, the curriculum is one of the major obstacles or tools to facilitate the development of more inclusive system. In our country curriculum is unable to meet the needs of a wide range of different learners. In it, there is little flexibility for local adaptations or for teachers to experiment and try out new approaches. As a result of the knowledge based curriculum, the examinations are also too much content oriented rather than success oriented. This is also a barrier to measure the achievement of children with special needs.

Twice exceptional students

A student with two exceptionalities, or a twice-exceptional student, is one who demonstrates remarkable learning abilities in particular areas of study while simultaneously experiencing one or more learning disabilities. For instance, a student may highly excel in creativity and verbal communication — making them star pupils in curriculum dealing with history or literature. However, the same student may also suffer from federal or state-defined learning disabilities, emotional or behavioral disorders, autism, or physical disabilities, hindering their performance in other content areas. Beyond academic performance, the disabilities may also affect their personal development by impacting their motivation to interact, abilities to self-express or confidence levels.


Curricular Needs

When planning for the educational needs of twice-exceptional students, it is important to focus on the development of the strengths, interests, and superior intellectual capacities. Since learning disabilities are inclined to be rather permanent, it is also important to teach and encourage the use of compensation strategies. These strategies could include the use of advanced organizers, technology, and a variety of communication alternatives. Students who have difficulty with short term memory should be taught strategies for remembering (Baum, 1990). Any type of enrichment activity should be designed to develop strengths and interests and to challenge the learner.

Programs need to focus their attention on preventing the disability from becoming a barrier in the development and expression of the child’s talent. Students need guidance while trying to accurately understand the nature of their learning disability in addition to the nature of their giftedness. While making students aware of the way in which their disability interferes with their learning, their gifts need to be cultivated. Teachers need to help students shape a healthy, realistic self-concept in which students accept their personal strengths and weaknesses (Whitmore & Maker, 1985). Strategies must be introduced to students so that they can compensate for their learning disabilities. They need to develop alternative ways for thinking and communication so that they can learn according to their strengths (Reis, Neu, & McGuire, 1995).

Vaidya (1993) also points out that while many parents are familiar with the high quality of their gifted child’s intellectual ability, they may be concentrating on addressing the difficulties posed by the child’s learning disability and neglecting the importance of nurturing their giftedness. Therefore, it is imperative that parents and teachers comprehend the combination of giftedness and learning disabilities.

Twice-exceptional students need an appropriate curriculum that addresses both of their special education needs. These needs relate to their specific intellectual giftedness and to their specific learning disability (Whitmore & Maker, 1985). Students need assistance in areas of weakness, but they also require time to recognize and develop their gifts. Like all students, they especially need enriching and stimulating cognitive experiences where they can use problem-solving abilities and independent research skills.

Gifted/learning disabled students need a program that is challenging and yet also provides structure and strategies to accommodate weaknesses. When a student’s talents are identified and nurtured, there is an increased willingness on the part of the student to put forth more effort to complete tasks (Baum, Emerick, Herman, & Dixon, 1989). Students should be encouraged to take pride in their accomplishments and strengths. This will encourage students to compensate for weaknesses by developing strengths (Baum et al.).



4.2      Need for curricular adaptations


Every child is different and every child can learn. Different children learn on their own level and through different mediums. As teachers we should know each and every child’s needs. As teachers we should find out what works for the children in your class and find creative ways to bring those ideas into your lessons.
Our schools today are educating the largest, most diverse student population ever, to higher standards than ever before. In order to meet the diversity we have talked about, there is a need for “adaptations” of the regular curriculum, involving organizational modifications in the goals and contents (2015).
Inclusive classroom needs teachers to cater for different student learning needs through the modification or differentiation of the curriculum. So Curriculum adaptation is an ongoing dynamic process that modifies and adapts the prescribed program of studies to meet the learning requirements of a student with special needs.
Curriculum modification involves change to a range of educational components in a curriculum, such as content knowledge, the method of instruction, and student 's learning outcomes, through the modification of materials for diverse student needs. For example: Using different visual aids, enlarge text, plan more concrete examples, provide hands-on activities, place students in cooperative groups, pre-teach key or terms before the lesson.

Today’s classrooms are diverse and inclusive by nature. Differentiation of instruction and assessment and the principles of universal design are now recognized practices for teachers. Both differentiation and universal design provide systematic approaches to setting goals, choosing or creating flexible materials and media, and assessment.  To undertake differentiation and universal design, teachers need to be aware of a range of accommodations (multiple means of representation, of expression, and/or of engagement) that may be necessary to help each student in the classroom succeed.  These accommodations may take the form of adaptations and/or modifications.    

Many students with special needs and significant learning challenges will be able to achieve the learning outcomes for subjects or courses with no or minor adaptations. Some may be able to achieve the learning outcomes of some subjects or courses with adaptations.  A small proportion will need to work on individualized outcomes, goals different than the curriculum; this is referred to as modification.

Why is Curriculum Adaptation necessary?

·      Curriculum adaptation is a form of reasonable accommodation as mandated by the UNCRPD 2006, which facilitates the teaching-learning process when there are students with learning difficulties in the mainstream classroom.

·      Curriculum adaptations are made to simplify and reduce the content so that learners with difficulties can absorb the most critical part of the curriculum.

·      Adaptation of the curriculum ensures that all learners get access to quality and meaningful learning experiences.

·      Children with learning difficulties do not feel excluded when it comes to understanding the subject matter.



4.3      Inclusive practices; Adaptations, accommodations and modifications



Curricular Adaptations are changes permissible in educational environments which allow the student equal opportunity to obtain access, results, benefits, and levels of achievement. These adaptations consist of both accommodations and modifications.

·      Some curricular adaptations do not fundamentally alter or lower standards or expectations in either the instructional or assessment phases of a course of study and can be designated as “accommodations.” These accommodations provide access to participate in the L.R.E. and an opportunity to demonstrate mastery of performance standards.

·      Accommodations are changes in course content, teaching strategies, standards, test presentation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student responses, environmental structuring, and/or other attributes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test, which DO NOT fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test.

·       Some adaptations do alter or lower standards or expectations and can be termed “modifications.” These modifications, although providing access, will necessitate careful selection of assessment components to achieve accountability for performance.

·       Modifications are changes in course content, teaching strategies, standards, test presentation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student responses, environmental structuring, and/or other attributes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test, which DO fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test

Nine Types Of Accommodations

1.     SIZE/QUANTITY - Adapt the number of items that the student is expected to learn or complete. (modification)

2.     TIME - Adapt the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing. (accommodation)

3.     LEVEL OF SUPPORT - Increase the amount of personal assistance with a specific student. (accommodation)

4.     INPUT - Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the student (differentiated instruction). (accommodation)

5.     DIFFICULTY - Adapt the skills level, problem type, or the rules about how the student may approach the work. (modification)

6.     OUTPUT - Adapt how the student can respond to instruction. (accommodation)

7.     PARTICIPATION LEVEL - Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task. (accommodation)

8.     ALTERNATE GOALS - Adapt the goals/expectations while using the same materials. (modification)

9.     PARALLEL/ALTERNATIVE CURRICULUM - Provide different instruction/materials and alternate activities to meet a student’s individual outcomes. (modification)

10.SETTING- change in the setting or surrounding of the student. (accommodation)



4.4      Types of curricular adaptations



Adaptations are changes permissible in environments which allow the student equal opportunity to obtain access, results, benefits, and levels of achievement. These adaptations consist of both accommodations and modifications.

Adaptation fall under four major categories:

Content: What the student needs to learn. The instructional concepts should be broad based, and all students should be given access to the same core content. However, the content’s complexity should be adapted to students’ learner profiles. Teachers can vary the presentation of content, (e.g., textbooks, lecture, demonstrations, taped texts) to best meet students’ needs.

Process: Activities in which the student engages to make sense of or master the content. Examples of differentiating process activities include scaffolding, flexible grouping, interest centers, manipulatives, varying the length of time for a student to master content, and encouraging an advanced learner to pursue a topic in greater depth.

Products: The culminating projects that ask students to apply and extend what they have learned. Products should provide students with different ways to demonstrate their knowledge as well as various levels of difficulty, group or individual work, and various means of scoring.

Learning Environment: The way the classroom works and feels. The differentiated classroom should include areas in which students can work quietly as well as collaborate with others, materials that reflect diverse cultures, and routines that allow students to get help when the teacher isn’t available.

Accommodations are changes in course content, teaching strategies, standards, test presentation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student responses, environmental structuring, and/or other attributes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test, which DO NOT fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test.

Modifications are changes in course content, teaching strategies, standards, test presentation, location, timing, scheduling, expectations, student responses, environmental structuring, and/or other attributes which provide access for a student with a disability to participate in a course/standard/test, which DO fundamentally alter or lower the standard or expectations of the course/standard/test.

If your child’s disability is preventing him or her from accessing grade level content then your child may need accommodations and/or modifications written into his or her Individualized Education Plan (IEP). The accommodations or modifications your child receives will depend on your child’s age, disability, classroom placement, and whether your child has an IEP. The accommodations and/or modifications that your child receives on state assessments will be slightly different from the ones your child receives in the classroom.

There are nine basic types of curriculum adaptations. They are listed below along with examples.(**Modification and *Accommodation)

1. **Quantity-Adapt the number of items to learn or the number of activities to complete:

·      Reduce or limit the use of scan sheets for test answers;

·      Reduce the number of items for assigned tasks;

·      Reduce the amount of copying;

·      Reduce the number of problems;

·      Reduce the number of concepts and expectations introduced at any given time;

·      Reduce the number of terms the student must learn at one time;

·      Reduce length of assignments;

·      Have student learn 2-3 concepts from each chapter.

2. *Time-Adapt the time allotted and allowed for learning, task completion, or testing:

·      Create a timeline for completing a task;

·      Allow student to take assignment home;

·      Allow extra time in class to complete assignments;

·      Review frequently;

·      Allow additional time to complete tests;

·      Give short breaks.

3. *Level of support-Increase the amount of personal assistance to keep the student on task or to reinforce or prompt use of specific skills.

·      Peer buddies;

·      Check for comprehension;

·      Read tests aloud;

·      Use groups to write together;

·      Peer tutor.

·      Starting a computer for a student;

·      Guiding a hand during handwriting;

 4. *Input- Adapt the way instruction is delivered to the learner:

·      Cooperative groups;

·      Visual aides;

·      Concrete examples;

·      Hands-on activities.

5. **Difficulty-Adapt the skill level, problem type, or the rules on how the student may approach the work:

·      Calculator for Math problems;

·      Simplify task directions;

·      Outline with blanks;

·      Word banks;

·      Provide page number and paragraph to help student find answers;

·      Number the handouts for reference during lecture;

·      Supply a study guide with key concepts and vocabulary in advance;

·      Give alternate test; 9. Vary format of tests;

·      Grading spelling separately from content;

·      Open book tests;

·      Change rules to accommodate learner’s needs;

·      Use high interest/low-level books to motivate students to read;

6. *Output- Adapt how the student can respond to instruction:

·      Verbal vs. written response;

·      Communication book;

·      Allow students to show knowledge with hands-on material.

7. *Participation-Adapt the extent to which a learner is actively involved in the task:

·      Have student turn pages on book that the teacher is reading;

·      Hold globe in geography;

·      Listen to a taped story while others are engaged in reading aloud;

·      Color map while other students label the map;

·      Find related pictures in magazines of concepts presented while other use resource material to research information;

·      Some learners will discuss concepts while others use selected computer programs for reinforcement;

8. ***Alternate Goals- Adapt the goals or outcome expectations while using the same materials. This is only for students with moderate to severe disabilities.

·      In a social studies lesson, except a student to be able to locate the colors of the states on a map, while other students learn to locate each state and name the capital.

9. ***Substitute Curriculum (Functional Curriculum)- Provide different instruction and materials to meet a learner’s individual goals. This is only for students with moderate to severe disabilities.

·      During a language lesson a student is learning toileting skills with an aide.

·      Community-based instruction;

·      Learning how to use a communication device;

·      Learning how to do laundry;

·      Learning cooking/grooming skills

Use of technology in inclusive education

Classroom teachers support students with diverse abilities and needs, cultural backgrounds, experiences and learning styles. As teachers, we are required to make use of strategies and resources that engage, motivate and encourage active participation and learning by all students.

Students with learning difficulties can be defined as students who experience particular difficulties in achieving at school that are not due to a disability or impairment.

Inclusive learning technologies can be described as those technologies, whether software or hardware, that help students learn strategies to bypass, work around or compensate for their difficulties. Many of these technologies incorporate Universal Design features which focus on providing learning resources that accommodate for learner differences. A comprehensive source of information on topics relating to Universal Design for Learning and Technology can be found by going at the website for the Centre for Applied Special Technology



4.5      Differentiated instructions and Universal design of learning


Differentiated Instructions: Content, Process & Product

Differentiated instruction is an organizing structure or framework in teaching and learning which calls for a major restructuring in the classroom and curriculum, if done well, its benefits far out way the costs. “Differentiated instruction can be defined as a philosophy of teaching that is based on the premise that students learn best when their teachers accommodate the difference in readiness levels, interests and learning profiles . “Differentiated instruction is a process to teaching and learning for students of differing abilities in the same class. The intent of differentiating instruction is to maximize each student’s growth and individual success by meeting each student where he or she is and assisting in the learning process”. Differentiated instruction seeks to move away from teaching to the whole class in the same manner and addresses the needs of all learners, including those who are at risk and the gifted, through various forms of well planned, well-organized, flexible curriculum and instructional strategies.

Differentiated instruction can enable students with a wide range of abilities—from gifted students to those with mild or even severe disabilities—to receive an appropriate education in inclusive classrooms. In order to understand differentiated instruction, the principles for practicing must be articulated viz.

·      Every child can learn.

·      All children have the right to high quality education.

·      Progress for all will be expected, recognized and rewarded.

·      Learners in a classroom have common needs, distinct needs, and individual needs.

For implementing differentiated instruction in their classrooms, teachers need to modify curriculum and instruction by selecting and organizing content on the basis of learning objectives, choosing instructional approaches for its effective transaction, designing learning activities and assessments according to students’ interests, learning styles and readiness levels.

Content: Content is what we teach (the curriculum). Content consists of facts, concepts, generalizations or principles, attitudes, and skills related to the subject, as well as materials that represent those elements. It can be differentiated in two ways. First in differentiating content, we can adapt what we teach i.e. by varying learning outcomes on the basis of what students already know.

The teacher may differentiate the content by selecting and organizing learning experiences at various levels of Bloom’s Taxonomy. For example, students who are unfamiliar with the concepts may be required to complete tasks on the lower levels of Bloom's Taxonomy: knowledge, comprehension, and application. Students with partial mastery may be asked to complete tasks in the application, analysis and synthesis areas, and students who have high levels of mastery may be asked to complete tasks in synthesis and evaluation.

The second way to differentiate is to choose resources how we give students access to the learning material but keeping learning outcomes same for all students. For example the teacher may use varied resource material like concrete objects or print material, interactive software for teaching physical and chemical change or students may be assigned to groups to explore the internet resources related to the topic physical and chemical change. In this way the students could have a choice to work appropriately in groups, or individually, but all are working towards the same instructional objectives irrespective of their varying abilities.

Process: Process refers to how we engage students to learn the content so that all students are able to understand or make sense of the content and skills, as well as to incorporate the content and make connections to what is already known, understood or able to do. Based on the pre-assessment results, the teacher should decide about the different ways to deliver the instruction. If using cooperative learning methods, then the process component includes using flexible grouping; this means that groups of students should be different for the different activities and if some students who are more comfortable in working individually then they should be allowed to do so. Another part of the process piece is classroom management. To effectively operate a classroom using differentiated instruction, teachers must carefully select organization and instructional delivery strategies.

Product: The product is essentially what the student produces at the end of the lesson to demonstrate the mastery of the content. The product is an integral component of the differentiated instruction, as the preparation of the assessments will primarily determine both the ‘what’ and ‘how’ instruction will be delivered. Assessments, both formal and informal, determine what level of understanding the students have of the subject matter. This component allows students to display their knowledge in several ways for e.g in English a student may be asked to compose a poem or to create a different end of the story, or to prepare a 3-dimensional model or to prepare a sketch that explains mastery of concepts in the social studies lesson, to write a book report, to perform a play, debate or investigate an issue, to design a game, and compare or contrast.

Although educators are continually challenged by the ever-changing classroom profile of students, resources, and reforms, practices continue to evolve and the relevant research base should grow. Differentiation demands the commitment on the part of teachers, administrators, and students. For teachers and students, the challenge is to move comfortably into a new instructional paradigm. For administrators, the challenge is to support teachers’ professional development, provide teachers access to a variety of instructional materials, and encourage them to use new methodologies and teacher support networks or peer coaching.


Universal Design for Learning: Multiple Means of Access, Expression, Engagement & Assessment

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) traces its origin to the Universal Design (UD) movement of the 1990’s. The term “universal design” was coined by architect and designer Ron Mace at the Center for Universal Design at North Carolina State University. Mace and his colleagues defined UD as “the design of products and environments to be usable by all people, to the greatest extent possible, without the need for adaptation or specialized design”

If the goal of UD is the removal of barriers from the physical environment, the goal of UDL is the elimination barriers from the learning environment. As David Rose, one of UDL’s founders, has stated, “UDL puts the tag ‘disabled’ where it belongs—on the curriculum, not the learner. The curriculum is disabled when it does not meet the needs of diverse learners”

Universal Design for Learning (UDL) is a framework that addresses the primary barrier to fostering expert learners within instructional environments: inflexible, “one-size-fitsall” curricula. It is inflexible curricula that raise unintentional barriers to learning. Learners who are “in the margins”, such as learners who are gifted and talented or have disabilities, are particularly vulnerable. However, even learners who are identified as “average” may not have their learning needs met due to poor curricular design.

In learning environments, such as schools and universities, individual variability is the norm, not the exception. When curricula are designed to meet the needs of an imaginary “average”, they do not address the reality learner variability. They fail to provide all individuals with fair and equal opportunities to learn by excluding learners with different abilities, backgrounds, and motivations who do not meet the illusive criteria for “average”.

UDL helps address learner variability by suggesting flexible goals, methods, materials, and assessments that empower educators to meet these varied needs. Curricula that is created using UDL is designed from the outset to meet the needs of all learners, making costly, time-consuming, and after-the-fact changes unnecessary. The UDL framework encourages creating flexible designs from the start that have customizable options, which allow all learners to progress from where they are and not where we would have imagined them to be. The options for accomplishing this are varied and robust enough to provide effective instruction to all learners.

The Three Principles

Three primary principles, which are based on neuroscience research, guide UDL and provide the underlying framework for the Guidelines:

Principle I: Provide Multiple Means of Representation (the “what” of learning). Learners differ in the ways that they perceive and comprehend information that is presented to them. For example, those with sensory disabilities (e.g., blindness or deafness); learning disabilities (e.g., dyslexia); language or cultural differences, and so forth may all require different ways of approaching content. Others may simply grasp information quicker or more efficiently through visual or auditory means rather than printed text. Also learning, and transfer of learning, occurs when multiple representations are used, because it allows students to make connections within, as well as between, concepts. In short, there is not one means of representation that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for representation is essential. 

Principle II: Provide Multiple Means of Action and Expression (the “how” of learning). Learners differ in the ways that they can navigate a learning environment and express what they know. For example, individuals with significant movement impairments (e.g., cerebral palsy), those who struggle with strategic and organizational abilities (executive function disorders), those who have language barriers, and so forth approach learning tasks very differently. Some may be able to express themselves well in written text but not speech, and vice versa. It should also be recognized that action and expression require a great deal of strategy, practice, and organization, and this is another are in which learners can differ. In reality, there is not one means of action and expression that will be optimal for all learners; providing options for action and expression is essential. 

Principle III: Provide Multiple Means of Engagement (the “why” of learning). Affect represents a crucial element to learning, and learners differ markedly in the ways in which they can be engaged or motivated to learn. There are a variety of sources that can influence individual variation in affect including neurology, culture, personal relevance, subjectivity, and background knowledge, along with a variety of other factors presented in these guidelines. Some learners are highly engaged by spontaneity and novelty while other are disengaged, even frightened, by those aspects, preferring strict routine. Some learners might like to work alone, while others prefer to work with their peers. In reality, there is not one means of engagement that will be optimal for all learners in all contexts; providing multiple options for engagement is essential.

Assessment is described as the process of gathering information about a learner’s performance using a variety of methods and materials in order to determine learners’ knowledge, skills, and motivation for the purpose of making informed educational decisions. Within the UDL framework, the goal is to improve the accuracy and timeliness of assessments, and to ensure that they are comprehensive and articulate enough to guide instruction – for all learners. This is achieved in part by keen focus on the goal, as distinct from the means, enabling the provision of supports and scaffolds for construct irrelevant items. By broadening means to accommodate learner variability, UDL assessments reduce or remove barriers to accurate measurement of learner knowledge, skills, and engagement.