One of the best ways I have found to insure the learning of all my students is to make sure that I get to know them early on. I have them tell me about their learning style and what helps them. Then I watch, read ieps as needed, and use constant assessment (white boards, exit slips, stoplight, etc.) to help them meet their goals and find success. I differentiate everything,and I love learning menus!
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I am a big believer in experiential learning when it is applicable to the given subject/topic. In a nut shell, students do an activity, make observations, analyze/process what they experienced, generalize the results and then apply their knowledge to a new/similar situation. This can be done a large scale like with a multi-day project or on a smaller scale with a simple warm-up problem to start the day.
Often the individual work for students on their level is on the computer. Reviewing the results and planning for weak skills will help individualize the instruction. One of my favorite ways to assure all are participating is the "Name on a Popsicle Stick Can or Jar." I used to write the names on a list and make sure I called on everyone. The Popsicle Method allowed for students to be called on multiple times and they never knew when they would be called to demonstrate or participate because the Popsicle stick went back in the jar or can until it was picked again. Lots of luck with unique strategies! Whether your students are "special needs" or "regular ed," the more student participation and creation, the more the memory of the learning topic.
Treasure the successes!
I agree with Elizabeth that the first step is to make sure that all students are comfortable in their environment/community. This way if they have any issue, problems, or if they are just struggling with something, they will feel comfortable coming to you and telling you what that problem may be.
One way to ensure that everyone is on the same page is to have defined curricular objectives. If the students know what to expect and what you expect from them, it will make everything run smoothly. For instance the way you grade assignments, grace periods, make-up work, etc.
Time management would be another way that you could check on your students periodically to ensure that they understand the material being presented. If they show to be struggling then you could make arrangements for tutoring or help of some kind.
I also believe that the more the parents are involved in the student’s education the easier it will be for all involved. Even if the student is afraid of being embarrassed to talk to the teacher, the parents will be able to step in and help. They can tell you how the student does with assignments at home, and how much help parents have to give.
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