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By Corene Anderson, Kelly Schelble, Elizabeth Pokorny
Learning Support Coordinators  


Engagement and Practical Accommodations for Struggling Students 

Please share with your staff . Download the PDF version here

Student engagement leads to student progress which leads to increasing self-esteem and boosting self-confidence. Struggling students tend not to engage, and that can lead not only to students falling behind but teachers feeling unable to help that student. Providing accommodations can promote student engagement and help teachers have more inclusive classrooms for all learners.   
Our mastery learning model of education leads to teachers naturally providing accommodations in the classroom. As we follow the Step Process within our Learning Support framework, words such as "recommended strategies" and "accommodations" can be daunting. It may be difficult for a teacher to see how these accommodations will work in their classroom.   
To take a step back, an accommodation is a change in how a teacher teaches. It does not change the content or change TSWs in our curriculum.   

Our goal is to look at engagement strategies and common accommodations to provide teachers with practical ways they can use these in their classrooms. We hope that these become a natural accommodation in a teacher's classroom that will increase all student's engagement. 

Graphic Organizers   

These tools can be helpful for showing similarities and differences. Teachers can use Venn Diagrams, webs, t-charts, and cause-and-effect graphic organizers. Providing students with an outline of these tools will help to make it visual. Another accommodation can be to pre-fill out the graphic organizer and have the student fill in the rest.   

Extra Time   

Mastery learning lends itself to all students having extra time. Establish guidelines to what extended times means. Have required check-ins for student progress for a long-term project or assignment. 

Repeated Instructions   

Teachers can restate the instructions and have students rephrase them or repeat them back. Have visual examples or completed work. Provide written and verbal instructions.   

Note-Taking Assistance  

 Teachers can provide students with an outline of notes before class or provide a copy of notes after class. Fill in the blank notes is also a way to keep students engaged during a lesson. Using note-taking guides and showing examples of how to take notes is a great way to help all students with notetaking.   

Use Agenda/Daily Planner   

Teachers can establish a routine in their classroom to remind students to complete their agendas. Provide visual and verbal reminders of this routine.  

Shortened Assignments  

Teachers need to ensure that the integrity of the assignment is kept when deciding which pieces to eliminate.


Breaks are a great way to re-engage students back into a lesson or to help transition from subjects. Establish guidelines for breaks such as length of break and location of the break. Deep breathing examples, movement breaks, and brain breaks are all breaks a teacher can exemplify with the entire classroom. Explore options for flexible seating to allow for ease of movement in the classroom.

Chunking Assignments   

Teachers can break down large assignments into manageable pieces; this will help organize students' thinking and give starting points. Guiding students will increase their ability for independence and time-management strategies. Check-in points along the way will strengthen this and ensure that students continue to be engaged with the assignment.   
Within our Learning Support Toolbox, we have more ways to accommodate and engage learners. Check it out in your Teams. If you don’t have access, contact one of us.  

MAP Testing Accommodations

While the above are classroom accommodations, the following are MAP accommodations for students with learning support plans that can be used in addition to the universal MAP accommodations listed in the Curriculum section.  

Presentation Accommodations  

Use masks to block a portion of the screen; for example, the student may use a sticky note, index card, or a blank sheet of paper to move down the screen as he or she is reading  
Use visual magnification devices or software   
Use auditory amplification devices or noise buffers (in the test)  

Setting Accommodations   

Test an individual student in a separate setting  
Test a small group of students in a separate setting   

Three Step Process

Within QSI, we follow the three-step process for struggling students. Please reference our webinar for more information.  Three Step Process