Planning Lessons for Diverse Learners

More and more teachers are including students with disabilities in general education settings and endeavoring to meet the curriculum demands posed by the Standards of Learning. This is not an easy task! Some lessons go well and others do not. A planning strategy called PASS may help make your teaching more effective.

The PASS strategy represents a way of thinking that maximizes teaching in diverse classrooms. The strategy consists of the four following elements:

  1. Prioritize objectives. Examine all the lesson objectives, determine which objectives are appropriate for students with learning differences, and eliminate those that are not necessary.
  2. Adapt instruction, materials, or the environment. Base the instruction, materials, and environment on the prioritized instructional objectives. Create adaptations based on students' needs.
  3. Systematic instruction variables during instruction:
    1. Structure: Lessons are well organized and systematic. Students are aware of the organization and structure of the lesson.
    2. Clarity: Teacher presentations are easy to understand. Teacher speaks clearly and directly to the point of the objective, uses clear and direct language, enunciates carefully, and provides concrete, specific examples of the information presented.
    3. Redundancy: Main points are repeated for emphasis and reinforcement.
    4. Enthusiasm: Teachers create exciting lessons that are fun and worthwhile.
    5. Appropriate Rate: The rate of the presentation fits the needs of the students. Generally, a brisk rate maintains interest and motivation.
    6. Maximized Engagement: Students are actively engaged in the process of learning. They listen, ask questions, take notes, solve problems, work in groups, complete class projects, and are held accountable for their learning.
  4. Systematic evaluation.

Frequently measure students' progress toward meeting instructional and IEP objectives. You may have noticed that when you take the first letter from each of the variables of systematic instruction, you spell the word SCREAM. That is precisely what the strategy may help you avoid! You can also call the T/TAC for a variety of supports to make your teaching more successful.


Mastropieri, M., & Scruggs, T. (2000). The inclusive classroom: Strategies for effective instruction. Columbus, OH: Merrill, pp. 30-31.