Material Modification


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Participants will be able to identify various methods of differentiating material.

Participants will be able to modify materials to incorporate additional supports.

Pre Assessment

Write the answer to the following question on paper or on a digital document. Be as detailed as possible in your answer.

1) In any instructional setting, teachers need to provide or alter materials to accommodate for the needs of students. However, this doesn't always occur. What do you think are the barriers that prevent tutors, teachers and educators from differentiating materials?

Key Words

Modified: In the educational setting, modifications are changes in instruction or materials that differ from the goal of general education students. In other words, there is a difference in what students are expected to learn.

Accommodation: In the educational setting, an accommodation is a change or difference in instruction or materials that still allow and expect students to reach the class goals.

Mini Lecture

According to the New York State Department of Education, ELLs can have all assignments, homework, quizzes or tests modified in order to accommodate for language barriers. The reason that all of these can be modified is because the goal of content area classes is that students learn and understand content. Therefore, modifications allow teachers to evaluate students on their content understanding, not their English proficiency. In addition, modifications can encourage and promote engagement, understanding, participation, and completion of work.

Modifications can look like this:
  • texts read aloud or translated into a student's home language
  • reference images or videos
  • matching, sorting or sequencing activities, as opposed to written work
  • explaining connections between students' home languages and English
  • learning students' background knowledge and experiences in order to incorporate these connections during lessons
  • using alternative texts that are at the reading level of the students

😨 This first set of modifications require a lot of preparation time, resources, and knowledge, but take a look at this second set of options...

Modifications can also look like this:
  • highlighting key words in questions or text
  • providing sentence starters for spoken and written tasks
  • allowing students to draw responses (and label if they can)
  • reducing the amount of answer choices or questions on tests
  • asking yes or no questions, or providing options for students to choose. Here are two examples:
    • Do we use the inside of our foot to kick a ball? Yes or no?
    • What part of our foot do we use to kick a ball? The inside or our toes?
  • providing word banks
  • allowing extra time for completion

🤗This second set of modifications do not require extensive time, resources, or knowledge. A lot of these won't even require preparation before class!

***Keep in mind, ELLs still need to be challenged, so modifications will necessarily change throughout the school year. Progress monitoring in the areas of listening, speaking, reading and writing should accompany the "can do descriptors" discussed in Unit 1.

Additional Resources

Here is a link to an ENL accommodation/modification checklist: Checklist


Using Slide 6 on Jamboard, write down your response to the following questions:

1) Reflect on your pre-assessment. Has your mind changed? What do you know now that you did not know before?

**You can add a sticky note, text box, drawing or image on Slide 6. Keep in mind that this is a public collaboration space, so you and others will be able to see the responses.

Assess Your Learning

Using your knowledge of different modifications, modify the following second grade test on Google Docs. Additional directions are at the top of the document: Test Modification Document

Upload your completed modified test to the following link: Google Form Submission

Congratulations! You have finished this mini course!

As one last aid in your learning journey, here is an (optional) 6 minute video on acclimating ENL newcomers in your classroom/school:

What to do First


Colorin Colorado. (2023). How to Develop a Lesson Plan that Includes ELLs. WETA Public Broadcasting.

Colorin Colorado. (2011, July 26). What to do first: Creating a welcoming ELL classroom environment [Video]. Youtube.

Iasevoli, Brenda. (2023). Accommodations for English Language Learners (ELLs) in the Classroom. HMH Professional Learning.

Ivory, Alecia. (2022). Why is Differentiated Instruction Important in the Classroom?. HMH Professional Learning.