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Modifying plans based on student needs

Every classroom is full of students with different needs. Here are some scenarios you might encounter and some possible modifications you can make to help you meet your students’ needs. Feel free to add in your own ideas…

The issue
Ways to modify
Harry is in fourth grade. He reads at a first-grade level and therefore cannot read the social studies textbook. Even though Harry is unable to read the text, he still needs to learn the content being taught.
  • Have Harry listen to the textbook on tape while he follows along (Most textbooks have accompanying tapes or you or parent and student volunteers can read it on to a tape.)
  • Send the reading assignment home with Harry in advance and have his parent, guardian, sibling, babysitter, etc. read the text with him. He could then practice rereading parts of the text you have highlighted as important.
  • Do partner reading when students read for social studies.
  • See if you can supplement the text with easier books on the same topic.
  • Use the special education teacher in your building as a resource.
  • Other ideas:



Samantha is in fifth grade. She reads at a second-grade level.
Samantha has a lot of progress she can make this year.
  • Have Samantha become a buddy reader to a kindergarten student. She can practice “easy” books to read to her buddy.
  • Make sure Samantha is reading texts that are appropriate for her.
  • Set up a home reading program with her family.
  • Work with Samantha individually or in small groups to help build her skills and strategies.
  • Have Samantha listen to novels on tape or partner-read novels so she can participate in book club or literature circles.
  • Use the special education teacher in your building as a resource.
  • Other ideas:



Tyler is in second grade. He knows few letters and sounds and a couple of sight words. Tyler still needs comprehension AND phonics.
  • In lessons about comprehension strategies, read a book aloud to the students so Tyler can work on understanding that reading requires thinking about the story as well as decoding the words.
  • Continue to work on Tyler’s phonemic awareness and phonics skills.
  • Set up a reading program with his family and/or find him a volunteer tutor.
  • Have Tyler listen to books on tape and write responses about them.
  • Transcribe a story Tyler dictates to you. Type it up, let him illustrate it and then have him practice reading his own stories.
  • Use the special education teacher in your building as a resource.
  • Other ideas:



Debbie is in first grade. She can read at a fourth-grade level. Debbie can learn even more this year.
  • Make sure Debbie read texts that are appropriate for her.
  • Have Debbie write about the books she is reading. Then you can respond to her through conferencing or writing.
  • See if a teacher in a higher grade level is doing literature circles or book club. Ask if Debbie could join.
  • If your school/district has gifted and talented resource personnel, ask for ideas and help from them.
  • Other ideas:


Key Words: differentiation, student needs, reading