Reaching out to the Exceptional Learners : Week 3

In addition to understanding and identifying students with advanced abilities using the survey of students and class diversity profile( Heacox, p.21-22), as teachers, we need to take forward this information to design environment, curriculum, and instruction to meet the student need and take learning to the next level.

Universal Design for Learning has emerged from the architectural model where structural changes were introduced for people with special needs and these changes were also noticed to help the larger community. This is being practiced in the school set up to create a conducive environment physically as well in terms of instruction and assessment to students of varying abilities.

Teachers need to create a classroom where

  • physically the students have access to materials and tools for learning
  • they have a safe environment to make mistakes and learn
  • they have multiple opportunities to express themselves
  • they get clear instructions on concepts and assessments
  • they get a class climate that is respectful and accepting
  • they get time to reflect, practice and learn

4MAT is an interplay about how students perceive and process information. It can be a useful tool for teachers to plan curriculum and instruction. The tool is designed based o the multiple styles of student learning and can be used to cater to the differential requirements of the students.



The four quadrants depict the four phases of the learning cycle namely, experiencing, conceptualizing, applying and creating. As teachers, we need to design instruction to incorporate these four elements to answer the what?, why?, if? and how? of each topic for successful learning.

4MAT is useful as a learning tool in three ways:

  1. for defining and identifying learners \
  2. for designing instruction
  3. for designing assessment

Lesson plan structures largely based on outdated research of the 60s and 70s when IDEA wasn’t implemented and the special needs students excluded from the planning. These lessons largely overlooked differentiation and emphasize direct instruction.

In the present world where student diversity, as well as learning differences, are understood and accepted, lesson plan design is a process whereby the teachers largely emphasize on designing activities keeping in view student learning preferences, interests and student understanding and readiness.

Heacox has created a nine step ‘Differentiated Learning Plan’ to equip teachers with the techniques to design lessons based on the diverse student needs in the classrooms which recommends that teachers commit to differentiating in at least one phase of the planning tool (Heacox, p. 66-67) . Essentially a process, differentiation is a step by step intervention at different levels –

Nine phases:

  1. Standard/KUDOS: Identify learning goals based on the curriculum standards.
  2. Preassessment/ Formative assessment notes : These preassessment activities help to plan out
  3. Hook : Ways to actively engage student interest in and curiosities about lesson’s topics.
  4. Content Delivery: In this phase
  5. Instruction/Modeling
  6. Application Activities
  7. Independent Application
  8. Closure
  9. What Next?


There is a need to create an environment conducive to learning for students of varying abilities. Accommodations by the teachers for students with in terms of physical environment and flexibility in lesson design and implementation gives rise to motivation and interest and benefits student learning and understanding.


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