How to Include Students with Disabilities by Modifying Curriculum in 3 Easy Steps!

Modifying curriculum for students who do not yet have an understanding of grade level content has long been the sole responsibility of the special education teacher. However, since the goal of inclusion is to include the student in as much of the general education environment and curriculum as possible, then we have to expect that modifications will occur as frequently as possible across all areas of the educational program. Thus, if we want to see full, authentic inclusion exist in our school system then making modifications needs to be the responsibility of EVERY teacher.



When general education teachers take ownership over the development and delivery of lessons for all their students (on IEPs or not), then we can truly begin to move towards more inclusive classrooms where students have the opportunity to experience, access, and achieve curriculum. Unfortunately, general education teachers are very rarely taught how to modify and design a lesson for a student who does not yet work at grade level. Below are 3 easy steps to modifying curriculum at any grade level:


1. Identify the curriculum standard(s) that need to be taught for students with and without an Individual Education Plan. Align the grade-level goals and modified goals to the greatest extent possible. 


2. Plan a lesson that will teach both the grade-level and modified goals. You can begin with planning the grade level lesson and then incorporate the modified goals. This will likely require some changes to the lesson. There are 4 key areas in a lesson where changes can make modified goals achievable: 

  • Content – Provide content that is related to the grade-level curriculum but is at a more level for student with disabilities.
  • Instructional Method – Provide an alternate and better-suited form of instruction.
  • Conceptual Difficulty – Reduce the difficulty of the lesson.
  • Educational Goals – Adjust the learning outcomes of the lesson.


3. Use instructional strategies such as deletions, substitutions, and additions to make necessary changes to the lesson. Here are some examples:

  • A student on an IEP in a fifth-grade class might learn how plants grow by planting an actual seed and observing its growth over time, rather than learning about the plant’s cellular functions.
  • A student on an IEP can create an art project related to a novel that the class reading.
  • The teacher can provide answer prompts or an answer bank to use for an assignment.
  • The teacher can change the educational goals of a grade-level math sheet on fractions to create a math sheet on addition by having the student add the numerator and denominator of the fraction.



This post outlined 3 steps to making curriculum modifications in order to teach and include students with disabilities in the general education classroom. More detailed information about modifying curriculum can be found in the book, Inclusion in Action: Practical Strategies to Modify Your Curriculum.


  • I am glad you focused on how academic goals are possible; not only the emotional and social ones take priority.

    And remember too that “grade level” is really a spread of about 7 years in the average classroom.

    This week in Townsville there is the VANE Royal Commission and it is focusing on inclusive education in that State [Queensland] and in Australia more widely.

    It will be a useful guide – and unfortunately it has no captions!

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