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Exceptionality Case Studies


Greg is a thirteen-year-old, Grade 8 student. He has a longstanding history of difficulties

with following classroom routines and rules, behaving appropriately, and interacting with
his peers. To get his peers’ or teacher’s attention, he will often raise his voice or blurt out
answers. He has always had trouble sitting still and likes to wander the classroom and
see what other students are doing. Often times, Greg’s peers isolate him, as they
perceive him as a troublemaker and do not want to conjointly suffer his consequences.
They also feel uncomfortable with his aggressive style of communicating or his attempts
at being funny.

Greg has always been described as bright, even a “know it all.” He is particularly strong
in math, which is his favourite subject. His parents have had countless conversations
about Greg’s behavioural issues, but have shied away from formal assessment. Their
solution has always been to involve Greg in sports, like hockey and football, so that he
can “expel his energy and aggression” through physical exercise.

In the past, Greg’s teachers have described him as careless and prone to making
mistakes. He rarely comes to class with necessary materials, forgetting things at home,
and has trouble meeting deadlines. His parents have lost track of how many times he
has misplaced his backpack, homework, and hockey equipment. If Greg is given a list of
things to do, he remembers the first thing but then gets off track before he completes
the other requests.

Recently, Greg broke his arm after he jumped off a ramp with his skateboard. This is but
one example of the many incidences in which Greg has hurt himself. When his parents
have tried to challenge his choices, he readily argues with them and blames them for
being too strict.

To address Greg’s transition to Grade 9, his parents and school team have met to
discuss where they should go from here. They have established that their first priority is
to address his behavioural concerns, with the ultimate goal that Greg has a positive high
school experience.

Case Study- Greg

Having a student such as Greg in class can provide some interesting challenges for

teachers and educators. As educators, we want to see Greg succeed in class, but it can be difficult

to meet his individualized needs for attention and discipline while consecutively holding the

attention and engagement of the rest of the class. Greg exhibits some undiagnosed behavioural

issues which often lead to aggression and disruptive behaviour in the classroom. While he does

not indicate any problems in intellect (as he is very bright), his disruptive behaviours often cause

friction with classmates and school staff. In order to help Greg succeed, many adapted

instructional strategies could be implemented.

Several basic strategies can be implemented in the classroom to help Greg succeed.

Throughout the textbook, Smith et al. (2015) provide many general themes by which teachers

can position themselves to create respectful and effective relationships with students with

exceptionalities such as Greg. These strategies include enforcing simple and concise classroom

rules, reaching out to create meaningful relationship and earn the trust of students such as Greg,

and to position oneself in a place of authority in the classroom without raising one’s voice or

being combative. While these practices are more general and are not necessarily specific

adaptations for any one particular lesson, they can aid greatly in building connection with a

student like Greg. Corbett (2010) delves into the benefits of these such connections in his in-

depth study of how to better the transition of student into secondary education. What is

emphasized in his research are these positive relationships and strong role-model figures that

teachers can be for students who struggle with behavioural issues (such as Greg). At the end of
the day educators want to be constantly and consistently seeking to build relationship with their


Since Greg has a tendency to wander around the classroom and disturb other students,

another strategy that could be used to help him perform well in class and remain engaged would

be to allow him to incorporate physical activity. Donnelly (2011) describes the importance and

significant benefits of the incorporation of physical activity on cognitive performance and

academics. He, along with many other scholars, advocate for the incorporation of physical

activity into the classroom to help students focus, expel energy, engage kinaesthetically, and re-

focus on mentally taxing tasks. Following the recommendations of these researchers and of the

information presented throughout lectures by Nostbakken (2017), allowing Greg to incorporate

physical activity throughout the course of the class could help him succeed. This small

adaptation would not disrupt the learning of any other students and would be ideal for a teacher

as it requires little-to-no additional prep or materials. This example of instructional adaptation for

Greg is outlined in more detail in the lesson plan.

Overall there are an overwhelming number of adaptations that could be made to help

Greg succeed in school. While his tendency toward disruptive behaviour is undiagnosed, the

behaviours exhibited require these such adaptations on the part of his teachers. By committing to

build relationship with Greg, and in providing him with ways to move around the classroom, the

hope would be that some of his disruptive behaviours would be subdued. Though enacting these

basic adaptations Greg can move closer to achieving a successful and satisfying education.

Mini Lesson Topic Photo Analysis- Oka Crisis
Name the teaching point. This lesson plan is for grade 10 students
This lesson plan is for [insert grade level] students in English ELA B10 to focus on the
in [insert subject area] to learn about [insert outcomes relating to Equality & Ethics.
teaching point(s)] The topic of the Oka Crisis will allow
students to think and learn about how
equality plays a role in crises like this
and what these events say about the way
society views First Nations peoples. The
photo analysis will teach students to
analyze the information they are being
presented via images constantly. A
healthy level of criticism in viewing
photos is important in a rapidly
increasing technological society.
Materials This lesson requires the powerpoint
What do I need to bring and what will the students slides which display several photos from
need to complete this lesson? the Oka Crisis. Students will also need
their cell phones/devices in order to do
some research from their seats regarding
one of the photos.
Connection In the previous lesson definitions and
Remind them what you taught the previous lesson. broad discussions of equality and social
Make a connection to a past learning. justice were discussed. Remind the
Today we are going to be learning about…….which students of our discussion on what we
will remind us of…… think is fair in society; how we think
everyone should be treated; and what we
learned about our society.
Today we are learning about the Oka
Crisis which will remind us of how
unfairly our society treats people/groups
of peoples unfairly. We will learn about
more about stereotypes as they relate to
First Nations peoples, and will also
discuss the value and importance of
treaties in our country. We will also talk
about how we can analyze a photo in
order to figure out if we trust it, what it
tells us, and how it relates to us.
Explicit Instruction Today I will show you 3 heart wrenching
Tell them what you will teach today. photographs from the Oka Crisis. I will
Today I’m going to teach you……. show you what I have already analyzed
Show them exactly how to do it from the first photograph so you can see
Watch me demonstrate…….or how I pull information from the photo.
Let’s take a look at this example of……… We will analyze the second photo as a
class, and then you will analyze a third
photo on your own (using your phone
for research if you want/need).
Guided Practice This is demonstrated in the above step as
Ask them to demonstrate their learning with a we analyze a photo as a class/as group
partner or in groups. discussions
Let’s try this together……
Independence Practice This step will occur in tomorrow’s
Remind students how the teaching point can be lesson (for the sake of time) as students
explored individually. Give them a chance to try it will be asked to choose a photograph of
on their own. their own and analyze it.
Outcomes/Indicators CR B10.1
List the outcomes/indicators from the SK (Saskatchewan Curriculum, 2011)
curriculum that relate to the lesson. • View, listen to, read, comprehend, and
respond to a variety of contemporary
and traditional texts including First
Nations and Métis resources that
present different viewpoints and
perspectives on issues and reflect
diverse personal identities,
worldviews, and backgrounds (e.g.,
appearance, culture, socio-economic
status, ability, age, gender, language).
• Respond personally and critically to
individuals, events, and ideas
presented in a variety of First Nations,
Métis, Canadian, and international
Adaptations/Accommodations/Modifications I can adapt this lesson to help Greg
What do I need to change to make the student with succeed is to allow the class to analyze
[insert exceptionality] to be successful with this the third photo in partners or small
lesson plan? groups instead of doing so as
individuals. I will gage Greg’s energy
level and engagement in the lesson
throughout the hour-long class and
decide based on where he is at if the
third photo should be analyzed as
individuals or in small groups.

The incorporation of intentional

movement throughout the classroom
could really help Greg to stay engaged
and still be able to move around as he
likes to do. Offering Greg the
opportunity to stand as we discuss the
photos or to go for a walk could help
him take a necessary break and then
refocus on the analysis.

Taking a 1 minute body break in

between photos will help maintain the
not only Greg’s focus, but the focus of
the entire class. 1 minute stretching
breaks will be implemented if I feel like
I am losing the attention of the class.

Finally, if Greg continues to struggle

with disruptive behaviour we could
analyze the third photo in a group format
but switch groups every 5 minutes. This
could allow students to hear the thoughts
and opinions of more people in their
class and will also allow kinaesthetic
inclined students such as Greg to move
around. This adaptation could be
implemented if I see that Greg is
struggling throughout the class, however
if he is doing well with the above-
mentioned adaptations I can simply
leave this adaptation out for the present
Closure In closing I will prep the students by
What will I say to reinforce the teaching idea and letting them know that tomorrow they
wrap it up? will be able to choose their own photo
from any other social justice event/issue.
This will allow them to brainstorm and
begin the thought process of choosing
what event they would like to search for
photos of. The individual photo analysis
project will be held in-class next day.

Corbett, G. (2010). Building a bridge to success: the inclusion of students with emotional and

behavioural issues in senior years.

Donnelly, J. E., & Lambourne, K. (2011). Classroom-based physical activity, cognition, and

academic achievement. Preventive medicine, 52, S36-S42.

Nostbakken, A. (2017). Educational Psychology 390. Personal Collection of Dr. Nostbakken,

University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, SK.

Saskatchewan Curriculum (2011). English language arts 10 [Program of Studies]. Retrieved



Smith, T. E. C., Polloway, E. A., Patton, J. R., Dowdy, C. A., and McIntyre, L. J. (2015).

Teaching Students with Special Needs in Inclusive Settings, Fifth Canadian

Edition. Pearson: Toronto, Ontario ISBN: 9780133575064.