Accessibility and Inclusion in the Chemistry Classroom

Empty classroom desks, text: Accessibility and Inclusion in the Chemistry Classroom

As part of my #chemcation2019, I presented at the American Modeling Teachers Association annual conference, ChemEd biennial conference, and the New England Association of Chemistry Teachers’ summer conferences on strategies for helping support diverse learners. As we teachers prepare to go back to school, I have summarized my presentation into a list of ways to help your classroom be inclusive for all learners.

 

General Accommodations


Image 1: Sample accommodation chart

 

  • Keep a special education accommodation chart to ensure that you know what accommodations/modifications your students need in order to succeed. For your students on IEPs and 504s, this is a legal requirement. I keep a separate chart for each class to make it easier for me to ensure that each student’s needs are met.
  • Provide a demonstration/experiment sheet for your students so that they can keep track of what you did in class and what the learning objectives were. I provide new ones for each unit.

 

Image 2: Sample demonstration/experiment notes sheet

 

Designing Slide Presentations

  • Use a large font, preferably around 20 pt.
  • Choose fonts that are clear to read. Be aware of 0/O (zero/capital O) and I, l (capital I/lower case l) confusion. Additionally, b/p and d/q for students that might be dsylexic.1
  • Do not use multiple fonts. Choose one or two fonts and stick with them.
  • Be careful of color combinations that will be difficult for students who are colorblind to see.2
  • Use textures in addition to color changes to help interpret graphs and charts.2
  • Provide descriptive alt text for your images to ensure that all people can access your presentation.
  • Use a microphone or other amplification device as needed. 

 

Note Taking

  • Provide guided notes for students.
  • Post notes for students to access.
  • If you have students copy notes from slides, put the slide up and don’t talk while they copy.  

 

Assessments

  • Provide lines and not just blank spaces for open response questions.
  • If a question has more than one part, consider breaking up the question on different lines to ensure that students do not miss any of the parts.
  • Consider using simple, whole number ratios so students will not lose the concept for math problems. 
  • Consider avoiding numbers that require scientific notation for your students who struggle with mathematics
  • Offer reassessments as needed.

 

Image 3: Example of assessment including lines.

 

Grouping Strategies

  • Vary groupings on a regular basis.
  • Assign roles within groups to ensure all students participate.
  • Use different types of groups for lab work and for classroom work.

 

Science Talk

  • Encourage students to talk science within your classrooms using strategies such as whiteboarding.
  • Provide student discourse stems and sentence starters to help.

 

Social Justice

  • Create an explicit anti-racist classroom.
  • Be aware of your student’s backgrounds and how that impacts their comfort in the classroom.
  • Use students’ correct pronouns and names. Work to pronounce their names correctly.
  • Incorporate non-majority scientists into the classroom.
  • Check out for additional ideas.

 

Please log into your ChemEd X account and add your own thoughts and suggestions in the comments below to help support all students in your classroom.

 

References

  1. , Dyslexia Gift website, Davis Dyslexia Association International (accessed Aug 2, 2019)
  2. Robyn Collinge, , January 2017 (accessed Aug 2, 2019)