Accessing the curriculum - Strategies for differentiation for pupils with Down syndrome
Gillian Bird, Sandy Alton and Cecilie Mackinnon
By differentiation the authors mean making changes, from small changes to larger ones, which enable children to learn from the school curriculum, designed for their age group, with their peers in an inclusive schooling system. Curricula in each country differ, but all have been created with the educational needs of children as a priority, to equip them socially and academically to function as a member of their community. In each country the curriculum for all children is likely to be the best guide for teaching the majority of children with Down syndrome of all ages, provided that the curriculum is used flexibly and can be differentiated. A minority of children with highly individual needs may benefit from a reduction in the breadth of their curriculum, making it more focused for meeting their highly specific learning needs. However, differentiation of the curriculum enables children with Down syndrome to learn with their typically developing peers and progress forward in all aspects of their development, as other children do, using the same curriculum as a guide.
Bird G, Alton S, Mackinnon C. Accessing the curriculum - Strategies for differentiation for pupils with Down syndrome. Down Syndrome Issues and Information. 2000.
Differentiation is one of the means by which children
of all abilities and learning styles can access and learn from the structure of
a common curriculum shared with their peers. It involves the modification and matching
of curriculum objectives, teaching and assessment methods, learning activities and
resources to pupils' individual abilities, educational needs and learning styles
in a social learning context.
Successful differentiation requires that teachers value
the achievements of all children and recognise the right of all children to be socially
included in school and community lives while acknowledging that children learn in
different ways. Teachers also need to maintain positive, open minds about possibilities
for learning at all stages of children's development. These attitudes are essential
for teaching all learners, for example, 'typically' developing children, unusually
able children, children with behavioural difficulties, children with different social,
cultural, emotional and economic experiences, children with autism, children with
dyslexia, children with visual, hearing and physical disabilities and children with
language and developmental delay, including those children who have Down syndrome.
- Education for individuals with Down syndrome - Whole school issues
[not yet available online]
To be able to differentiate well, schools need to have
whole school development for inclusion, with school staff, parents and pupils working
in ways that facilitate differentiation. The Index for Inclusion
is a set of materials to support schools in a process of inclusive school development,
and will lead any school, in any country, into practices that overcome barriers
to learning and participation and enable social inclusion and differentiation for
all pupils. Whole school development for inclusion is a starting point for differentiation
and the needs of individuals are embedded in this social and community framework.
Whole school issues in relation to children with Down syndrome are discussed in
another module in this series.
The modules on reading and writing illustrate ways of
differentiating literacy teaching to teach language and understanding. Similarly,
the modules on number make recommendations for how to meet individual learning needs,
improve skills and include pupils in maths lessons. The recommendations and techniques
described in these modules can be used across the curriculum, for developing and
assessing understanding, for recording and for enabling children to participate
in whole class activities through adapted or additional resources. Additional examples
of work by pupils included in lessons with their peers are illustrated in this module,
followed by discussion of teaching style and classroom management, to stimulate
teachers' creativity and to raise teachers' expectations that pupils can access,
share and learn from the same overall curriculum as their age peers in the same
classrooms, provided teachers differentiate for them.