Big Ideas in Literacy
Adapting and Modifying Sources
Once sources have been selected for a class investigation, adapting these sources through formatting so that they are more readable is one way to make complex texts accessible for students. Adapting sources is also a way to differentiate for reading levels within a class and provide equitable access for all students to complex texts. Two primary ways of adapting sources include (1) formatting the source so that it is viewable and recognizable by students and (2) excerpting sources so they are shorter and more manageable.
Another option is to provide resources to help students with difficult vocabulary (e.g., including a word bank). As a last resort, teachers can modify the language of the sources in order to make the text more accessible to students. Of course, there are pros and cons to modifying the language of sources, and not everyone agrees that the text itself should be modified from the original form. Modifying the language of a source should only be done to make the source accessible for students who could not otherwise read it.
When modifying language is necessary, the key is to do so less and less over time so that students become more independent. The purpose of adapting and modifying text is to provide accessibility to students through a temporary scaffold. Ultimately, students should transition to more complex work.
Even if the original text of a source isn't modified, formatting, shortening, and providing vocabulary resources can lend to better accessibility among students. Here is a simple way to format a source:
- Lay out the source on its own page.
- Add a title for the source.
- Create a head note that briefly explains what the source is or that gives important background necessary for understanding the source.
- Format the body of the excerpted text with a larger font.
- Create a source line that notes who wrote the source when, as well as the kind of source.
- Include a word bank of difficult vocabulary.
Reflect: In what ways have you made text more accessible to all students?