Making Physical Adaptations for Children with Disabilities

Activity 1:

The law-
IDEA and

Activity 2:

Activity 3:

The Four
Activity 4:

Sample Lesson
Plan Modifications
Culminating Activity: 
Practice Making
Your own Lesson Plans
Teaching Guide

Teaching Guide

Making Physical Adaptations for Children with Disabilties 
produced by 
[Terri Andrews Kopca]





General Goals

Learner Description



Learning Objectives

Instructional Plan


Plan for Assessment and Evaluation






What do you do?
     You are a Physical education teacher.   have a new student entering your PE class who has special needs.  You either do not have an Adapted PE specialist in your district, or their caseload is so overwhelming that they don't have the time to help you adapt activities for this child. You have some knowledge of the basics of this disability, but little or no training  to make appropriate and effective modifications for a wide variety of activities.  What do you do?

  • You are a classroom teacher who wants to help a student who is physically disabled  
        to participate in an outside activity or recess game.  You don't have the time to  
        check ahead with a specialist to make adaptations for spontaneous activities that 
        are created by students during play. You have little knowledge of this disability and 
        no training in how to modify activities safely.   What do you do?

  •  You are an employee working at a YMCA or other summer camp.  A 
         child has joined your group who is physically disabled.  You have no knowledge of 
         this disability and no training in how to adapt activities safely and effectively.
         What do you do?
If any of these situations are true for you, this site will help you to follow
several simple steps to make safe and effective adaptations for your
students who have disabilities.
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This curriculum web is designed to help teachers and other adults who work
with children who have disabilities to make safe and effective modifications.

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Why is it so hard to make these modifications?


  •      In the past, Adapted PE specialists made these modifications and worked directly

with the students in need in separate classes, or attended regular PE classes with

those students.  Adapted PE specialists who are trained in making modifications

have been forced to take on caseloads that far exceed what they can effectively

handle.  Many districts have reduced the amount of Adapted PE specialists hired and

transitioned students into “consult” instead of having direct minutes in an effort to

reduce costs.  Specialists therefore end up spending the majority of their time writing

goals and participating in IEP meetings instead of working directly with students or

planning with PE teachers.


 PE teachers typically have had only one or two courses that deal with children who

have special needs.  They have had little or no direct contact with these students

before they enter the teaching field. 


There is little training available in this area and teachers are unaware of the

resources available to help them to learn these skills.


Teachers are overloaded with their regular duties, and find it difficult to add in the

necessary time to make modifications for students who have disabilities.


There are so many different disabilities, levels of those disabilities, combination of

disabilities, and wide variety of activities that it can be overwhelming to inexperienced

teachers to tackle modifications. 


Why is it so important to become familiar with these strategies?
Children who have special needs have the right to participate, and it is not
only required by law, but a necessary effort for any quality teacher to make to
the best of his/her ability.
All children need to learn how to cooperate with and accept the differences
in others.
Teachers who may have good intentions by allowing children with disabilities
to participate fully may be creating an unsafe environment for that child and/or
the others in the class.
Teachers may find it easier to take the “easy way out” and unfairly assign
children with disabilities to be score keepers, time keepers, or cheerleaders.
Teachers may make activity modifications for the child who has a disability
that are not effective in progressing his/her skill level.
Teachers who may have good intentions may not know how to determine the
purpose of the modification and allow an activity that is not challenging or fun to
the student.
Teachers may unintentionally design activities that are not age appropriate.
Teachers are legally responsible for keeping all children physically safe, and
must become aware of the special concerns that are related to a child with a
specific disability. 
Teachers are responsible for creating an environment that is emotionally
safe for all students, and specifically to the special needs of a child who has a
Teachers are not familiar with parallel activities that may be necessary in
some situations when direct participation is not safe or effective for the student.

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General Goals
The general goals of this curriculum web is to assist teachers with the following:
   1.  Acquire knowledge of the law, disabilities and the four strategies
   2.  Learn to create  safe and effective lesson plans
   3.  Develop a physically and emotionally safe environment for students 
         who have a disability

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Learner Description
Learner Description:
Users of this website will be Physical Education teachers, classroom teachers, and
employees of recreation programs such as sport camps.  They will have a varying degree of
knowledge about various disabilities and experience with children who have those disabilities.
They will have a desire to go beyond the requirements of the law to provide a safe and
successful learning experience for the children who have these special needs. 
 Adult learners appreciate the following:
  • to learn a process in a few simple steps
  • to be provided with reputable resources
  • to find information that is relevant 
  • to work with peers that have similar interests

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The following are necessary prerequesites for use of this curriculum web:
1.    Some experience working with children in an educational or recreational setting.
2.  A desire to learn more about making safe and effective modifications for children who 
     have disabilities.
3.     A willingness to focus on what each child CAN do instead of what they can’t do.
  * Teachers who have prior knowledge of the background information on
disabilities can skip learning activity 1: information on common disabilities, and
learning activity 2 :  specific legal and medical concerns.  They can move ahead to
learning activity 3: four strategies , learning activity 4: sample lesson plans and the
culminating activity: design your own lesson plan.
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The subject matter contained in this curriculum web is as follows:
    1.  Information regarding various disabilities including medical, legal, and
         safety concerns specific to what a teacher or other professional working with children would
         need to know.
  2.  Basic philosophies of quality instruction in PE, and safe and effective practices in adapting
         activities for children with disabilities.
  3.  Standards for creating appropriate and effective modifications to lesson plans.
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Learning Objectives
Users of this web site will be able to do the following upon completion:
1.  Give a basic explanation of the law as it applies to children with disabilities including IDEA
  (Individuals with Disabilities Act, specifically the premise of the “least restrictive
environment” and the effect of No Child Left Behind.
  2.     Provide basic information about the most common disabilities including a general                      
       overview, medical, and legal concerns specific to each disability.
    3.    Explain and give examples for the four strategies that you can implement to make safe         
        and effective activity modifications for children who have a disability.

   4.  Apply information to design lesson plans with appropriate and

         effective modifications following a given rubric.


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Instructional Plan
Activities necessary for learners to complete this curriculum web:
      1.  Review the law as it relates to children with disabilities.  Read about Individuals with
           Disabilities Education Act and NCLB through links and review summary in Activity 1:
           The Law.
      2.   Review or learn the information for the specific disabilities that relate to your specific
            student(s) through overviews and legal concerns in Activity 2: Disability Information.
      3.  Learn about the four recommended strategies for making modifications by reading
           summaries and examples of each strategy in Activity 3: The Four Strategies.
      4.  View sample lesson plans to improve knowledge of how to apply these strategies in 
            Activity 4: Sample lesson Plans
      6.  Take a quiz to check knowledge before advancing to the Culminating Activity: 
           Make Your Own lesson Plans
      7.  Practice making lesson plans using the given rubric.  
      6.  Practice making lesson plan modifications following the given standards rubric
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To use the curriculum web effectively, it is recommended that the user have the following:
           1.   A computer to access the information given and to access given links
        2.      A list of accessible equipment and supplies that could be used to assist
     students who disabilities
         3.       A copy of the student’s IEP
         4.       Contact information for your school or district Adapted PE professional

    5.    Contact information for the school or district Occupational Therapist (OT)
    6.  Contact information for the school or district Physical Therapist (PT)
    7.  Optional-  Games for People with Sensory Impairments:Strategies for Including Individuals
     of All Ages by Lauren J. Lieberman and Jim F. Cowart in their book," Games for
     People with Sensory Impairments: Including Individuals of All Ages". Click here
     for more information on this book:

 The materials that you will need to use this curriculum web effectively are as follows:
The following web pages:
Filename:                                         Purpose:
Index.html                                                         Entry page
Activity 1: The law                                           Provides information on the law in
                                                                            regards to children who have 
Activity 2: Disability                                        Provides general overview, medical and              
                  Information                                    legal information for specific disabilities
Activity 3: Four                                                Explanation of the four strategies to
                   Strategies                                       make modifications for children with
Activity 4: Sample                                           Collection of sample lesson plans with
                  Lesson Plans                                  modifications
Culminating Activity:                                       Provides a template to fill in your own
Make  Your Own                                              lesson plan modifications
Lesson Plans
Teaching guide:                                                 Teaching guide
Assessment.html                                               Rubric for assessing the four strategies
Glossary.html                                                    List of vocabulary words introduced in
                                                                             the instructions or likely to
                                                                             be encountered while completing the
                                                                             learning activities

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Plan for Assessment and Evaluation
Before practicing making adaptations in lesson plans by using the rubric,
the user should take this quiz to check his/her knowledge of what he/she 
has learned so far.  Check answers and feedback on incorrect answers
before you proceed to Activity 4: Make Your Own Lesson Plans.  
View quiz here
After completing the quiz, and checking feedback on any mistakes, the user
should proceed to the Culminating Activity: Make Your Own Lesson Plans.
 HE/she should apply information learned in earlier activities and use the
given rubric to make adaptations.
To evaluate the success of this web curriculum, I will consider the following:
1.  Expert opinions and feedback from:
    A.   Adapted PE specialists Peggy Ganger and Kathy Brinker
    B.  Members of the executive board of the Illinois Association of Health, 
          PE,Recreation, and Dance
    C.  Input from the exceutive board of the Illinois Coalition for Adapted PE
    D.  Feedback from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards
2.  User feedback 
3.  Graduate students from National Louis University, and non-PE teacher
     feedback from my school and district.
     district and from the
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Appendices (optional, if needed)
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Expert resources:
Terri Andrews Kopca - Creator and manager of this curriculum web
                                         Elementary PE Teacher of the Year for the state of Illinois, 2004
                                         National Board certified teacher and mentor, 2005
Click here for link to resume
Peggy Ganger- Advisor and consultant of this curriculum web
                            Adapted PE Teacher of the Year for Illinois and the Midwest region
Lieberman, Lauren J. and Cowart, Jim F.,1996.  Games for
People with Sensory Impairments: Including Individuals of All Ages. New York, Human Kinetics
Individuals with Disabilities Act 
NO Child Left Behind
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504 Plan: Temporary legal document that provides services and necessary modifications for a child who has been injured
           or has had a medical procedure of some kind that limits activities and abilities. This is not usually set in place
           unless the temporary disability last more than a semester of the school year.  It is legally binding and is a temporary
           Individual Education Plan (IEP)

  Changes made to a lesson activity or plan to provide more effective

                          Instruction for a child who has a disability
Adapted PE specialist: Certified professional who has a degree in  Special Education
Assistive technology- equipment, devices, and software from low to high technology that assist a
      student in learning and communicating such as a touch pad communication board.
Cochlear implant- Assistive device that allows children with hearing impairments to hear through a
                   special microphone that is linked to a connection on their skull.  
 IEP- Individual Education Plan- states the goals and services that need to be provided by
         law.  These services include, speech, OT/PT, Adapted PE, social work, etc.
Least restrictive environment- Explained in the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, this
          provides children who have disabilties with physical and emotional safety.  It requires   
          teachers to provide as similar of an educational experience as possible.  By providing
          services such as Assistive technology, Adapted PE, paraprofessionals, etc. a child
          should be able to participate in an educational experience  that is equal in quality to the
          other children in the class.
Mobility impairments- Movement is limited by the use of a wheelchair, crutches, cane, scooter, or cast.  They will need some
           assistance from equipment or a helper to move from one place to the next.

OT -Occupational Therapist:  Certified professional with a degree in Special Education
           They are experts in assisting children with fine motor development skills
Paraprofessional- Preferred term for a teacher assistant who can be an integral part of maintaining
             the least restrictive environment
PT-Physical Therapist:  Certified professional with a degree in Special Education
                                   They are experts in assisting children with their gross motor
                                   development skills
Special needs- The current preferred term for children who have a disability
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©2008 Terri Andrews.  To comment on this curriculum web, click here.