Online Course: Numeracy and LD - Accommodations

Woman creating bar graph with colored sticky notes on large notepaperUse this discussion thread to explore thoughts on how the information on specific accommodations that can assist adults in math problem solving from the Numeracy Instruction and Adults with Learning Disabilities online course might impact your professional practice.

Post a 'Reply' with your thoughts, using the following questions to guide your reflections:

  • Has your thinking about accommodations for math changed? How?
  • What are some accommodation practices you plan to continue using? What are some you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?
  • Regarding accommodations: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

To enhance your understanding: Read and reply to other participants' posted plans. Check back to this page, or subscribe to this post to read and reply to others' responses or thoughts on your plan.


Has your thinking about accommodations for math changed? How?

After reading the material for section three, my thinking about accommodations for math have not really changed. As an adult education math instructor I realize that there are many things and factors that affect a person’s learning.

Presentation- In mathematics there are several different ways that one math problem can be solved. I always start with the presentation method that seems to make the most sense to me and that prior learners have been the most successful with. Sometimes this method is strictly visual but other times it involves manipulatives. For example, some students can learn to solve and algebraic equation by watching the process, while others have to put their hands on something and see it move in order to catch on. For those types of students algebra tiles is one example of a manipulative that can be used.  However, the most common/popular method doesn’t work for everyone. A successful instructor must be equipped with a variety of presentation methods. Presentation methods can vary from learner to learner and may be visual, tactile, or both. My mathematics toolbox is equipped with many visual and tactile tools that I can use with all of my different learners.

Response- When preparing adults for the mathematics portion of the GED Test, it is very important that they know and are prepared to answer questions that are presented in different ways. Because the GED Test includes multiple choice, fill in the blank and placing plots on a graph I try to incorporate different ways of answering questions in the classroom. My learners are required to:

  • answer multiple choice questions
  • represent their answers and/or solutions by drawing or diagram
  • present their answer orally
  • complete and present completed projects

My students are also required many times to create and solve their own math problem that relates to the current topic of discussion. After creating and answering their own problem they present the problem and the way they solved the problem to the class. 

It is rare that I use talking calculators and hands on manipulatives with learners who are considered level 05 and 06 learners simply because those items cannot be used on the actual GED Test.

Scheduling/Time- Extended time and frequent breaks are two accommodations that adult learners wishing to take the GED Test can be granted. To be granted accommodations a student must have a documented disability. I do practice extended time and frequent breaks for my learners with a documented disability. Many times I do use chunking and alternating between tasks. One accommodation I have not tried and may try in the future is matching tasks to time of day.

Setting- Setting is a very important part in the successfulness of student learning. My adult learning centers makes it a point to provide space with minimal distractions for every student. There are students with the need for special lighting that we have applied filters over our classroom lights for. It is not a norm for me to allow a student who is enrolled in a specific math class to choose whether they work alone or in a group. However, students are permitted to choose to come to individual sessions in the afternoons or nights versus being in a classroom setting. I allow my students to sit where they choose to set in the classroom unless I have a special request. Students can be granted setting accommodations for the GED Test if approved.


What are some accommodation practices you plan to continue using? What are some you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?

I plan to keep using the current practices I use because they seem to work well. I do adjust practices from time to time depending on the needs of my learners. The one practice that I learned about from the reading that I have not tried but may in the future is matching tasks to time of day.

Regarding accommodations: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

I would love to hear how others incorporate presentation, response, scheduling, and setting into their daily instruction.

I would also be interested in how other instructors match tasks to time of day and if they are successful with this in an adult education setting.

Like Missy, my thinking has not actually changed about the need for accommodations in math, but as we progress through this course, my understandings of the need has shifted, somewhat.  Many times I pull tricks out of the bag to attempt to reach my students from my perspective.  I am attempting to get all heads nodding up and down at the same time.  I'm now seeing that some of the "tricks" that I use are actually accommodations that are, in fact, providing needed assistance to those with math difficulties and/or possibile disabilities.  I'm experiencing a sort of paradigm shift.  

I routinely have my students watch a video on a math topic before coming to class.  I have even encouraged them to watch, take notes and re-watch the videos if they need to so that we can work with that information in class.  This has proven to be a good thing for those who have struggled in the past, are new to the subject covered in the lesson, and for those second language learners.  This is an example of how my thinking about accommodations has shifted.  I was assigning the videos to make things more productive in the classroom, but what actually occurred was that students who needed help in a different way (an accommodation) were getting adjustments AND the class time was, in fact, more productive:  win-win.  As I plan for next year, I will definitely continue to use the videos because the process has been successful, but my focus will be shifted.  My thinking has shifted from what I need to do to be successful, to what my students need from me to be successful.  One could say that the focuses are both "one in the same," but I see the placement of my efforts and energy as having been shifted.

I do love the "Number of the Day" game.  I see lots of possibilities for that activity.  Starting the class with a little fun, non-threatening game would be a good way to loosen things up and maybe even reinforce a current topic of study.  I do already use some light hearted activities to add a little fun into the mix of serious study,  and I see that it helps students relax about math and conceptualize math as they work with numbers to solve a problem. Again, I now realize that I'm using an accommodation without realizing it.  This is another win-win.

Hi, Missy & Others -

Thanks for your postings. I am learning a lot about how many of you are providing accommodations, or scaffolding numeracy-related content, to assist learners with disabilities.   As Missy commented, I have not seen or tried the accommodation of matching tasks to the time of day.  I'm curious how those of you who have used this accommodation have found it to work in practice.  Was it successful?  How did you structure it within a classroom setting?  Did you find it helpful with specific learner profiles, and not others? 

If you have not used this accommodation before, what are your thoughts on trying it in the future?  I look forward to learning from your thinking and experience here.


Mike Cruse

Disabilities in Adult Education Moderator

This as an interesting section. Since I teach GED ( Adult Education) classes, I use accommodations all the time with my students. My opinions toward accommodations have not changed, I still believe accommodations are a must in education. Students learn at different rates, so instruction needs to be made to help the student become as successful as they can. I work with a lot of students with ADHD and Dyslexia. I have discovered that giving worksheets with just a few sheets is very helpful. With a thick packet of worksheets the student with LD or Dyslexia tends to be overwhelmed and will just give up. However giving then small packets (3 pages at most) at a time, the student is more focused, and more excited about learning.  I would like more information on the alternative media. Many places may not have the funds available to get these resources (especially community centers). What are some alternative media resources that are free, or cost is not that high?

part 3

  • Has your thinking about accommodations for math changed? How?
  • What are some accommodation practices you plan to continue using? What are some you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?
  • Regarding accommodations: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

My thinking about accommodations has changed by being reminded that there are options I may not be utilizing in my class.  I plan to continue using manipulatives, peer-to-peer and inquiry learning.  I want to try using more realia to help students relate what we are doing to their daily life.  I will need to accumulate real world objects, tools and devices in order to be successful in this endeavor.

I would like to know what others utilize in the classroom regarding accommodations.  Has anyone done their own videos, developed their own games, made their own manipulatives?


I love to ask students to bring in realia from their own lives- maybe cell phone plans, sales flyers, etc.  We do one activity where we 'discover' the value of pi by measuring the circumference and diameter of a number of round/circular objects and plotting it on a graph and coming up with the equation. Thus, we see that pi is 'about' 3.


Lesson Three: Response Accomodations

Prior to working for the state office, I was a teacher for varying exceptionalities.  In my classroom, students displayed the characteristics that have been discussed so far.  In lesson three, regarding response accommodations, mind maps and flow charts were given as two examples to use with students.  Has anyone tried one of these? 

1.  Has your thinking about accommodations for math changed? How?

2.  What are some accommodation practices you plan to continue using? What are some you want to try? Why? What might you need to be successful?

3.  Regarding accommodations: What questions would you like to discuss with peers? What topics or ideas would you like to learn more about?

It helped for me to see the four types of accommodations.  I know that I have been using the Presentation techniques because I have considered this description as teaching to learning styles.  It was helpful to see activities that would address these different learning styles.  Some I do, but wasn't really conscious that I was addressing more than one learning style at a time like the software-based and videos that are considered multi-sensory.  

I had not considered Response accommodations, but I will now.  Just as we present information in different ways, it is good  for students to be able to respond in different ways too.  I know we ask students to be able to read flow charts, but I've never asked them to create one.  The activities you have suggested truly engage the students in multi-ways that require those Depth of Knowledge Skills.  I am going to reread this section and implement some lessons where the students create more graphics.  I really would like to give them a chance to create a Powerpoint presentation.

Scheduling/Timing accommodations I am aware of because I do not want the students to be bored or to lose them.  I want to keep them coming back for more. We utilize computer time for 45 minutes, then an hour of instruction, a 15 minute break, and then another hour of instruction in another subject area.  

Setting accommodations I am aware of too.  I use to have my tables in a U shape, but found many students prefer the row of tables because they don't want everyone looking at them.  We do use paired activities and this tends to warm them up to working with larger groups.

I always enjoy reading what others are doing.  I get so many more ideas for instruction and now "responses" to instruction.  Thanks!

When I first started helping others to understand math concepts, it was as a peer tutor. I have always tried to make things relatable for students, and I have tried to find ways to help them help themselves to understand. Often, the first thing to throw out was a time requirement. Being ADHD myself, I incorporate settings that are as distraction free as possible; I allow brain breaks- usually with some type of TPR included; and I weave in a "Kindergarten Calculus" philosophy. My HS calculus teacher was great at roping in all of her students with every angle possible teaching a concept. Colors played a huge part in her classes 30 years ago. I am not sure I have changed my opinions on accommodations. I feel they are necessary for students who each learn in a different way.

I love colors used to help a student follow sections of a larger problem as they resolve themselves into other things. Setting accommodations and timing are a given for me. I liked the suggestion of the number of the day. I may try to use that.

I would like to (and plan to) research the UDL. Timing this week has not allowed me to pursue this yet. 

I wish that I were as proficient as some of you. Our Works program attendance is a maximum of 10 weeks. Since most are desperate to find employment, few last more than 5-6 weeks. Accomodations that we regularly use are time, scheduling,and setting. My fellow instructors and I have different, but complimentary, personalities and teaching styles. Within the first hours/days with a new participant, we began matching styles and personalities to maximise success.

Hi, Heather - 

As you start your research on UDL, I have two suggestions for you to consider:

1. ISolveit is a mobile digital learning environment that supports the development of logical thinking and reasoning skills. The platform includes a collection of tablet-based puzzles that have been designed using the principles of UDL.

2. UDL Curriculum Toolkit is a web-based platform that allows for the development and publication of web-based curricula and other content built according to UDL principles.

These are both resources from CAST, a national UDL non-profit organization.  I am working with a former CAST Fellow on an event for the LINCS Disability Community, in late 2016.  If you have specific questions or topics that you're interested in being addressed as part of this event, please let me know.

Mike Cruse

Disabilities in Adult Education Moderator