There are numerous interventions that have been designed to enable students with intellectual disability better cope with their condition. Most of these interventions have been hinged on the principle that respective educational programs should be tailored to complement the students’ strengths, and to supplement their weaknesses.
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This is the same principle underlying the functioning of the K12 educational principle because it is centered on meeting individual student needs (K12 Inc. 2011, p. 1). The K12 educational paradigm mostly works through online communication but it has been seen to offer a lot of advantages to students with unique disabilities.
For instance, the educational methodology is known to provide rich, challenging and engaging content; an individualized learning plan; a learning coach; and cutting-edge technology in the provision of the best learning outcomes for intellectually disabled students (K12 Inc. 2011, p. 1).
When educating students with intellectual disabilities, it should be understood that, students are bound to have trouble in learning, retaining information and understanding information (Pearson Education Inc. 2011, p. 2).
Educators have often experienced such challenges, but comprehensively, there is a consensus among most stakeholders that it is vital to make accommodations for certain groups of students, and it is also crucial to make curriculum modifications for other students. In this regard, there seems to be a lack of consensus in coming up with one formula for handling students with intellectual disability.
This is the main framework for the advancement of this paper because this paper focuses on developing curriculum adjustments for a young man, Meagan. Meagan is 14 years old and has had a history of intellectual disability. This paper analyzes various dynamics of Meagan’s life, with the intention of making curriculum adjustments to provide an effective framework for learning.
To provide a good backdrop for the development of a good framework for learning, several aspects of Meagan’s life will be analyzed. These aspects include his family background, personal history, personal skills and personal abilities.
These factors will be analyzed systematically. Comprehensively, this analysis will be done with the aim of identifying one long-term aim or objective of the learning outcome and two short-term aims or objectives of the learning outcome.
Meagan is the eldest child in a family of three children. His younger sibling is a girl, Sophia, aged nine years old. The youngest child is also a girl and she is three years old. Among his siblings, Meagan is deemed to be the child who has experienced most difficulty in learning. Meagan’s family hails from a middle-class society in Melbourne, Australia. His father works as a retired engineer in a local factory.
The mother works as a librarian in a local university. There has been no vivid or confirmed reports of intellectual disability among any of Meagan’s family members, though there have been unconfirmed reports of mental illness among some of Meagan’s relatives hailing from his father’s side of the family.
His aunt is said to experience occasional episodes of mental instability. However, there have been no confirmed reports of mental illnesses or cognitive disability from any of the family members of Megan’s mother.
Megan’s family professes the Christian faith, though they are not committed in their religion. However, Christianity has had an influence on Meagan’s life because he strongly identifies with his Christian faith. In the past couple of months, Meagan was baptized and currently devotes most of his time to his religious duties. None of Meagan’s family members pay much attention to religion.
His family also hails from a background of child neglect, with many of Meagan’s relatives having been abandoned by their parents at an early age. Meagan’s parents are no exception. The degree of attention they give Meagan is inadequate because little attention is paid to Meagan’s slow intellectual development. This has been going on since his parents confirmed that he was suffering from intellectual disability.
There is also an almost non-existent family support structure for Meagan to cope with his condition. Moreover, there is very little evidence of family cohesion among Megan’s family members, starting from his parents to his siblings. In this regard, Meagan is left to live with his condition, alone.
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Meagan hails from the aboriginal community of Australia. He was prematurely born because he was birthed at only seven months into his mother’s pregnancy. During his infant life, Meagan was abandoned by his mother, even before he was completely weaned from her. This forced his father to look for a baby sitter.
Nonetheless, despite these challenges, Meagan lived to have a vibrant childhood, with no signs of failing to cope with his playmates or friends. To a large extent, Meagan has been deemed a “normal” child. In his teen years, he used to participate in church activities (for the young) and also took part in school activities including extracurricular games.
He was a vibrant member of the school choir and an active member of the school soccer club. However, Meagan’s repeated the seventh grade level (twice) because he failed to meet the minimum threshold for admission into the eighth grade.
For a long time, he experienced a lot of difficulty trying to meet the minimum threshold for admission into sequential class grades because he always trailed among the last five candidates in any class. This was witnessed from his admission into the first grade.
However, Meagan’s academic background was characterized by exemplary performance in various academic writing competitions. His teachers termed him as a very creative writer and he never disappointed in his English creative writing assignments.
However, this was as far as his academic excellence stretched. Currently, Meagan undertakes blue collar jobs on minimum wage but there is increasing pressure among his peers for him to continue with his studies.
Personal Skills and Abilities
Meagan has a creative mind. He has shown interest in creative writing from his younger years but as he grew older, his interest changed. However, as explained in earlier sections of this study, in his young years, Meagan used to write exemplary creative works. His interest however shifted into music when he grew a little older.
So far, he has been able to record music in a local music company but his talents have never been fully exploited because of the lack of adequate finances to bankroll his musical ambitions. Moreover, there has been limited support from most of his family members in his quest to pursue music. However, due to his strong religious background, Meagan hopes to produce music for his local church.
The main aim of undertaking a curriculum adjustment for Meagan is to enable him to earnest his abilities and use them to the optimum benefit of his talents.
To enable Meagan to be independent and able to communicate his needs in effective and acceptable ways.
To assist Meagan to excel in personal growth and compete with other students in varying levels of excellence.
Making the best curriculum adjustments for Meagan entirely depends on the nature of his disability. From previous sections of this paper, we have affirmed that Meagan suffers from a slow comprehension of academic disciplines, but he has a stronger grasp on creative works.
Here, there are several curriculum adjustments that can be done to ensure Meagan lives to his full potential. In this regard, this paper proposes several curriculum adjustments, based on the K12 teaching model which aims to provide individualized learning for students with intellectual disability. They are outlined below:
Interest and Student Ability
To ensure Meagan lives to his full potential, it is crucial to make curriculum adjustments to suit individual needs, abilities and preferences. A uniform curriculum which is meant to work for the majority student population is bound to fail for Meagan because it will not be specific to Meagan’s abilities and potential.
In this regard, it is therefore crucial for the curriculum to be designed to emphasize on creative works, as opposed to academic excellence, to enable Meagan to succeed in arts (Queensland Government 2011). Emphasis should be further made to ensure the school grading criteria focuses the same level of attention it gives to sciences (and other disciplines) as it does with art subjects.
Such a grading criterion would ensure students are assessed on all fronts, and not just academic. When adjusting the learning curriculum, it is also crucial for teachers to structure the curriculum in a manner that guarantees the grouping of students into different ability groups.
Not all students have the same type of abilities and therefore, it would be beneficial for teachers to group Meagan into the “creative works” group, so that he can share his creative ideas with his peers (Foreman 2009, p. 170).
Adjusting the Learning Outcomes
Adjusting the learning outcomes is an important adjustment to the learning curriculum if the school grading process is to be fair. Here, “fair” means to accommodate intellectually disabled students (Snowman 2011).
Accommodation of Diverse learning Styles
Intellectually disabled students are normally faced with the challenge of failing to comprehend learning instructions as fast as other students do. However, research studies affirm that some of these students prefer certain learning styles in place of others (Queensland Government 2011). Moreover, educationists have shown that certain learning styles are more effective for intellectually disabled students, while others are not.
Such dynamics withstanding, it is crucial to make curriculum adjustments that allow for the accommodation of diverse learning styles for improved efficacy in learning. For instance, conventional or online lessons can be administered using various learning materials such as DVDs, CDs, Books, videos and such materials (Browder 2011, p. 332).
The inclusion of such diverse strategies is set to improve the level of interaction between the students and the teachers because an appropriate learning style would motivate the students to pay more interest in the learning process. This improves the students’ level of engagement. Moreover, such curriculum changes ensure the learning process is rich in its contents.
Integrating a Learning Coach (Parent Involvement)
It is crucial to integrate the input of a learning coach into the school curriculum to encourage the participation of Meagan’s parents in his educational endeavors. The parents will be the learning support team.
Already, we have established that Meagan hails from a family that pays little attention to his educational needs. Here, there is a strong need to integrate the parents’ input into Meagan’s educational projects to ensure he enjoys a support structure, aside from the traditional teacher-student framework.
Though an integration of the role of the learning coach into the school curriculum may not necessarily be confined in the parent-student framework, it is crucial for this integration to be developed in this framework, if Meagan has to develop better learning skills (National Parent Teacher Association 2009, p. 1).
This is because a great degree of the deterioration of his intellectual ability comes from a lack of effective support structure that enables him to improve his learning skills (Queensland Government 2011).
For long, this need has been ignored, and as a result, Meagan has continually performed poorly in his academic endeavors. Nonetheless, the learning coach framework can be designed in various ways. For instance, the school curriculum can be designed to include the participation of parents in the student’s projects, at least once or twice a semester.
Parents may be required to give consent, provide counsel or similar activities on the student’s tasks, thereby encouraging him to better develop with his learning activities. The inclusion of this principle into the school curriculum may be indirectly beneficial to Meagan because it is bound to have a motivating effect on him. This is the first strategy that can be adopted in encouraging parent participation.
The second strategy that can be adopted by the school is implementing a family-school partnership policy where parents and teachers agree on a common framework where parental involvement is assessed, and the parents’ progress is measured (Westwood 2011, p. 15).
This recommendation emanates from research studies which have shown that schools which have an efficient family-school partnership perform better than schools which lack this policy (Queensland Government 2011).
Finally, the school should make adjustments to the curriculum to ensure that parents take part in the decision making process of activities affecting student achievement. Here, parents should be allowed to be part of advisory committees which affect student achievement.
This paper proposes that, adjustments in the school curriculum which have to be made to accommodate Meagan’s skills and abilities have to be done within the confines of earnesting his skills and abilities (to use them for the benefit of his personal growth). In this regard, this paper proposes that the school curriculum should be tailored to accommodate Meagan’s artistic skills.
Moreover, the learning outcome should be adjusted to accommodate the same skills and abilities. From a holistic perspective, this paper also proposes that diverse learning styles should be accommodated into the learning curriculum to ensure students with intellectual disability learn in an efficient way.
These recommendations are carved from the K12program. Nonetheless, this paper also puts a lot of emphasis on the importance of incorporating parent input in the school curriculum. Integrating these principles will go a long way in enabling Meagan to earnest his strengths and use them to the optimum benefit of his talents.
Browder, D. (2011) Teaching Students with Moderate and Severe Disabilities. New York, Guilford Press.
Foreman, P. (2009) Education of Students with an Intellectual Disability: Research and Practice (PB). New York, IAP.
K12 Inc. (2011) How a K12 Education Works Web.
National Parent Teacher Association. (2009) Enhancing Parent Involvement Web.
Pearson Education Inc. (2011) Teaching Students with Special Needs Web.
Queensland Government. (2011) Intellectual Impairment – Educational Adjustments Web.
Snowman, J. (2011) Psychology Applied to Teaching. London, Cengage Learning.
Westwood, P. (2011) Commonsense Methods for Children with Special Educational Needs. London, Taylor & Francis.