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How to Differentiate Product for Special Education Students

We have covered how to differentiate content and process for students with learning disabilities.  Now we are going to take a look at how special education teachers can differentiate products for students with learning disabilities.  

First, let’s define product as it relates to differentiation.  Products are what students produce and how they demonstrate new learning as a result of instruction.

Many times, the curriculum documents that are provided to teachers, require students to demonstrate their knowledge through writing lengthy paragraphs or essays.  For students with learning disabilities, this can prove to be a challenge dependent on their needs.

Also, many students just do not prefer to write as a means of demonstrating their knowledge.  By offering a variety of methods for students to use to demonstrate their knowledge around a topic or skill, teachers increase student confidence and engagement.

Examples of Differentiating Product  

One example of differentiating products, would be to provide students with tiered assignments that range in complexity and are based on each student’s readiness level.  Some students may have assignments that have different levels of scaffolding, such as simplified wording of a question, boldface or italicized font, addition of visuals, or a few number of questions that they are required to respond to.  

Another example of differentiating products would be for a teacher to give students choice in how they demonstrate their new learning based on learning style.  For example, if a student needs to demonstrate mastery of identifying story elements, a teacher could have them write the next chapter of a book, act out a portion of the text, draw a map that depicts the setting, or create a missing poster that describes the character in detail.   

Students who are good with technology may want to produce a powerpoint or video that demonstrates that they have an understanding of the content from the lesson.  They also may be benefit from using a word processor to construct a paragraph or essays in relation to a topic.

Differentiating Product as Strategy for Special Education Teachers

There are many differentiation strategies that can be utilized in the classroom to support students with disabilities accessing grade level content.  By allowing each student to express their knowledge in a way that focuses on their strengths, we are giving students with disabilities a greater chance at having more success with demonstrating mastery in all content areas.

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