The Assignment Routine

At the middle-school level, students are expected to record each homework assignment in writing, take the necessary materials home, complete the assignments at home, return the materials to the school, and hand the assignments in on time. Although this multistep process is formidable enough for students with disabilities, it becomes even more difficult when all the students in the class are expected to complete the same assignment in the same way, and individual differences and preferences are not taken into account.

Even when content adaptations are specified on an IEP, assignments do not always reflect their modified expectations. As a result, students with disabilities often do not complete their homework assignments. This two-part adaptation was developed to be useful across subject-matter areas. It can help you plan and present assignments that all students in the class can complete, as well as help students record and complete the assignments.

The Adaptation

In the first part of this adaptation, you adapt the assignment to fit the skills and needs of the students in the class. Next, you present the assignment to students using a visual display, and have them record the assignment in a special assignment planner that contains prompts for all steps in the assignment-completion process.

The first part of the adaptation helps you plan, present, and evaluate the assignment. A special worksheet prompts you to consider the following:

  • The purpose of the assignment

  • Its relevance to students

  • Student choices for completing the assignment that take into account their skills. For example, students might choose a book to be read for a book report so that it will be at their reading level. For the "report" they could draw an ad, create a test with an answer key, create several pictures of scenery, or make a poster.

  • Problems students might encounter while completing the assignment

  • Solutions to those problems, which can be explained to the students

The worksheet also helps you to plan clear directions for the assignment, supplies and resources that might need to be made available, and the grading criteria for the assignment.

Next, plan how you can visually display this information for the students. For simple assignments, a graphic device called the Assignment Window can be used. For complex assignments, an Assignment Handout can be created.

When you present the assignment in class, refer students to the information on the Assignment Handout or Window and give them time to plan how they will complete the assignment. Students can record basic information in assignment planners specifically designed for students who have difficulty with writing tasks, scheduling time, and completing assignments.

More on Adapting Existing Materials.

Council for Exceptional Children

Provided in partnership with The Council for Exceptional Children.

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