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Pop Quiz: Science and Special Learning Needs

This week, I’m engaged in a professional development workshop using the citizen science project Moon Mappers. I’ve been fortunate to work with two powerhouse teachers, now (mostly) retired, that developed much of the middle school lesson plan that ties Earth and lunar geology. Their combines classroom experience spans several decades and continents, so I’m learning quite a bit from them as they guide the teachers taking the workshop through various issues affecting middle school science teachers.

One of these women wrote a blog post today about being a parent and teacher for children with special learning needs. In a way, the science classroom has a leveling affect for such students, since when taught in an inquiry-based way, science labs and classes allow the students to explore together. No one is far ahead of the others.

And yet, there are still many difficulties that students can face when performing science labs with their peers. The teachers in our workshop were asked today to perform a simple lab experiment with various “disabilities” such as partially opaque googles, ear plugs, and gloves with some of the fingers sewn shut. This encouraged them to think beyond the standard lesson at how they could be adapted for various different learners.

Science, sans thumbs. #throughglass

Science, sans thumbs. #throughglass

In what ways do you think science lessons and lab can be adapted to accommodate various physical and mental learning needs of different students, especially those with special needs? How might these benefit the class as a whole, and not just the students in question?

The Pop Quiz is a question to you, the Scholars of Doubt. Look for it on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 3pm ET.

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Nicole

Nicole

Nicole is an assistant professor of physics and astronomy at a small liberal arts college. Her home on the internet can be found at One Astronomer's Noise.

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