Want to motivate learners and make lessons memorable? Incorporate the occasional costume to drive your message home. Teach as an atom, a pioneer or as Rosie the Riveter.

This website is dedicated to promoting inclusive schooling and exploring positive ways of supporting students with autism and other disabilities. Most of my work involves collaborating with schools to create environments, lessons, and experiences that are inclusive, respectful, and accessible for all learners.

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Day 6: Purposeful puzzles

Posted on December 06, 2013 in Differentiating Instruction, Inclusion

Purposeful puzzles are so named because they are a first and foremost a fun activity but they can also be put into classrooms to serve a specific purpose or teach a particular lesson objective.

Puzzles are an especially helpful support for students who might fidget a lot during class or need to be “doing something” when they are listening or participating in a classroom discussion. For example, a student with Down syndrome was sometimes restless during his social studies class so a teaching assistant on the middle school team created a series of standards-based puzzles that could serve as desk-top fidgets, used as repeating homework assignments, and drawn upon as informal study guides. The content on the puzzles was always complex, so any learner could use the puzzles to learn and review.

Purposeful puzzle

To get ideas for puzzles, look at content-area standards for information and ideas that students need to know and understand. You might also scan textbooks for important charts, diagrams, maps, descriptions, and images. Once you have found your image, sketch your drawing lightly with a pencil on the blank puzzle “page” (available in most teacher stores) so that any errors can be changed easily. Then, color with markers or colored pencils to make the image easy to assemble. Add any important vocabulary words and facts.

Consider letting students create puzzles for the class or for each other. This activity may appeal to your art-loving learners or to those who love to doodle and draw as a way to explore content.

For more differentiation ideas for K-12 classrooms, check out From Text Maps to Memory Caps [Paul Brookes Publishing].

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