When our special education students or students with specific learning disabilities come into our classroom it is our job to provide accommodations for them so they can be successful. One of my favorite ways to accommodate for students is using color Before I discuss three ways to use color as a specially designed instruction (SDI) for a student, let me define an accommodation. An accommodation is a way to help students acquire the exact same content as their peers, whereas a modification changes the content. Here, I will discuss using color as an accommodation.
Color Coding A Behavior Plan
For students on a BIP (behavior improvement plan) color can be used for transitions and to stop/start certain behaviors. If a student has an SDI of high contrast materials or limited visual clutter, color can help focus on a specific behavior such as remaining seated on a colored spot or within a colored boundary. In my classroom I have a pink box in the back of the classroom that students can choose to sit inside if they need a break or need a place to just sit away. You would be surprised at how many students love to sit in the box, they feel safe there to just be themselves, move around and wiggle if they need to and not be a bother to those around them. This designated space also works well for students who have preferential seating or a colored boundary. I just used pink duct tape and created a 9X9 space on my floor, easy peasy!
Color Coding Visuals for Melody and Rhythm Instruction
ChromoNotes™ colors or Boomwhacker colors are the ones that are most popularly used in the elementary music classroom. I use ChromoNotes™ colors to color code melodic visuals in my classroom to help keep reading the melody consistent. My students begin to learn that C is red, D is orange, E is yellow, etcetera, and it carries over to all melodic instruments in my classroom. This is great for students who thrive with consistency. For rhythm, I use the
Note Knacks® colors devised my Kristen Pugliese to teach the number of sounds in a beat. For example, a quarter note is red because red has one sound, a pair of eighth notes is yellow because yellow has two sounds. My favorite in this system is terracotta for sixteenth notes!
This system works well to get students started on understanding that rhythm is the number of sounds in a beat and as the rhythms become more complex, the system adapts for that, too!
I use Magnetix for recorder which are trimmed in ChromoNote™ colors so that the students can read the color and the notes on the staff. I know that notes on the staff in “real” music is black, but the purpose is accessibility, if this makes the music more accessible, then why would I not try? If you do not want to use these branded color systems, you don’t have to. You can come up with any color-coding system that works for you and the student. The best accommodations are consistent accommodations and those that work for the student.
Color Coding Instruments
Colored instruments or stickers on instruments are an accommodation for striking in the correct spot, holding an instrument correctly, etc. This method can be used if a student’s SDI is to identify and limit distractions by providing a “strike zone” for immediate success in playing the instrument. I use the ChromoNotes™ stickers on my Orff instruments to align with the color-coded music. I use the ChromoNotes™ bells, Boomwhackers, and keyboard instruments in my classroom to maintain as much consistency as I can. If you don’t have access to those, the stickers are a perfect option to help color code the instruments you do have.
Color is a wonderful way to provide an accommodation for all music students, especially special education students in music. By using color coding systems for behavior, visuals, and instruments special education students can learn the same content as the other learners. Color can be a dynamic way to meet student’s SDI’s in the music classroom! Give it a try!
Sing! Say! Dance! Play! Care!