The anticipated month of June frequently brings fear to teachers, students, and parents due to the arrival of the New York State Regents exams. The state mandates that all students must pass a minimum of five Regents exams in order to attain a Regents diploma. These five exams consist of: one lab science assessment (Earth Science or Living Environment), Integrated Algebra, Global Studies and Geography, English, and United States History and Government.
The specific Regents standards are often deemed as being demanding and difficult for many students in special education. Such a feat has made passing a Regents assessment a very stressful obstacle to overcome. What should special education teachers do to prepare their students for the Regents?
New York State Regents exams are content heavy which causes a great dilemma for many students with special needs, since memory retention is a common struggle for a number of students with IEPs. How should teachers adapt the learning environment and curricula in order to make content memorization less taxing for the already stressed students?
A number of students do not respond positively to constant note taking. Teachers writing information on plastic sheets which are then projected onto the white screen in the foreground of the black board is not always the ideal way to present new information to students. Students with special needs may be overwhelmed with the lists upon lists of notes and cannot multitask, copy such information, and listen to the teacher simultaneously.
Students may positively respond to a curriculum that is represented through visuals, charts, graphic organizers, and pictures which access different sensory modalities of learning. This strategy may seem specifically successful in a Global Studies or U.S. History course; past historical events, figures, and causes and effects may easily be related to pictures through differing primary sources and political cartoons.
Teachers should attempt to create an interactive classroom as frequently as possible in order to foster an educational environment that encourages classroom discussion, teamwork, and technology appreciation. In order to make Regents preparation seem less daunting, a teacher should prepare a review game that promotes student use of the SMART Board technology. In addition to the interactive review, the SMART Board game may be printed and given to the students as additional Regents preparation notes.