Special Education in the Art Classroom: A Lesson Adaptation

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As a choreographer of instruction, I adapted my second grade unit on collagraph lizard screen-printing to meet the needs of striving students with autism and intellectual disabilities.  The art classroom often functions as an inclusion setting where striving students are included with peers their age as part of the Least Restrictive Environment section of the students’ Individual Education Program. In some cases, these striving students are assisted by an aide. This is where planning and communication by the art teacher is most crucial to allow these students to succeed and grow.

It is the role of the art teacher to create adaptations and/or modifications that allow for student success. In my collagraph lizard screen print unit, I created an adaptation/modification where the striving students learn the same objectives as the entire class.

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First, I had two adaptations/modifications for the initial step of the collagraph unit.  In this initial step, the class is asked to draw a lizard following the steps provided using the Mimio Teaching Technology.  One adaptation to this part of the lesson was having the drawn steps printed in a small booklet to allow the student and aide to work at their own pace.  Another modification for this step of the unit was having a pre-drawn lizard that had dashed lines to allow the students to practice following the dashed line.

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In the next step of the unit, students add texture and pattern to their collagraph lizard plates, which are made from cardboard.  Materials that the students can cut and manipulate include crumbled paper, string, and cardboard.  During this stage of the unit, I want the striving students to have access to the materials previously mentioned, as well as foam shapes.  The purpose of allowing the striving students to use the foam shape pieces is to have them focus on the task of creating a pattern or repetition with a material that is more concrete.

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Throughout the collagraph lizard screen-print unit, the adaptations and modifications for the striving students were designed to address the individual students’ needs and allow them to learn the same objectives within the unit.  Therefore, the most important role as a choreographer of instruction is to understand/assess each student’s individual needs, create adaptation/modification that addresses the individual student’s needs, and modify my teaching to benefit the student’s education.

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