Modifying Activities and Environments

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Have you noticed one or more of your students quickly losing interest when you begin a particular activity? Or maybe you’ve realized that there are certain activities or times of day when challenging behaviors seem to always occur. When you sense that student disengagement is becoming a pattern (whether for one student, several, or many) it may be a sign to shake things up!

Modifying activities and environments to meet the unique needs of your students can make a big difference in your classroom. By being intentional in how you plan activities, adapt tasks, and organize your classroom, you are creating a learning atmosphere that helps maximize engagement in learning and encourages persistence during new and challenging tasks! Below are a few tips to help guide your thinking around small changes that you can make to provide large benefits for your students.

Planning activities

Make sure your activities:

  • Incorporate students’ unique interests and strengths.
  • Incorporate movement! Do not expect students to sit still and quietly for more than 15 minutes at a time.
  • Give students choice whenever possible (see Guide to Allowing Choice).
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Adapting tasks

If you notice a student losing interest in the task at hand, make sure that they are being challenged just enough!

  • Give more chances to get involved by using open-ended questions, offering choice, and providing opportunities for students to take the lead/act things out.
  • Be on the lookout for students who are struggling and may need extra support.
  • And, be on the lookout for students who are prone to finishing early or who feel that the activity is “too easy.”

Organizing the classroom

For those areas in the classroom where students tend to have trouble staying engaged or remembering the rules, here are some suggestions:

  • Add additional visual cues around the room to provide students with reminders of what is expected in particular areas (see Guide to Using Cues and Visuals).
  • Place or position furniture in a way that separates different activity centers to minimize distractions.
  • Provide flexible seating options or fidget materials for students who need a little more motion to stay engaged in certain tasks.

For more ideas, see Guide to Modifying Activities and Environments.


More questions? VKRP provides support via the online chat feature when you are in the system, via email vkrp@virginia.edu, and via toll free 866-301-8278 ext. 1