In wrapping up my research on the topic of specific strategies for teaching science to students with special needs, I want to tie things up in my final post by discussing some additional guidelines I have learned from experiences in my Special Education classes.
Using inquiry-based instruction in teaching science has multiple benefits for many students with disabilities, in comparison to the more traditional approach of text-based instruction. The Inquiry-based approach involves teaching students science concepts through concrete and hands-on experiences. This involves providing students with a variety of educational experiences to develop and demonstrate conceptual understanding, rather than simply relying on routine processes such as reading about information in a textbook, answering the end-of-the-chapter questions, and taking test at the end of a unit.
Inquiry-based instruction reduces the barrier of mainly accessing information through abstract presentations and promotes student participation through a larger selection of methods (not just reading and writing), which can be particularly useful for students with disabilities.
Additional suggestions for enhancing the learning of students with special needs (particularly students with mild-to-moderate disabilities):
• Use concrete materials and manipulatives to activate prior knowledge and demonstrate concepts
• Organize instruction around the “big ideas” of a topic taught
• Facilitate connections between topics studied and other content areas
• Focus on deepening knowledge of content ideas rather than covering a lot of material
• Make connections between the science and the students everyday life
• Take advantage of utilizing technology resources when appropriate
• Promote “minds on” thinking through asking thought-provoking questions
• Demonstrate enthusiasm about the content
• Evaluate student performance using a wide range of authentic assessment techniques
Prater, Mary Anne. Teaching Strategies for Students with Mild to Moderate Disabilities. Boston: Pearson/Allyn and Bacon, 2007. 402-04. Print.