For an hour every morning, I help with our third graders in Math and Science (in the general education setting). I'm in charge of three girls with severe hearing loss, one of which performs at about the early first grade level when it comes to Science.
We just held an IEP for her and decided that she needed to use the calculator so that could focus on understaning the math concepts instead of being bogged down by the actual computation.
As I handed her the calculator, another student, "Jose" (who is quite gifted) proclaimed:
"That's not fair!"
The whole class heard him, so I took the opportunity to give a brief lecture on fairness as I have come to understand it in the classroom.
Fairness does not equal "same". Fairness is everyone getting what they need in order to learn. Jose doesn't need a calculator to learn, but my student does. Not everyone needs a giant magnifying glass to do their work, but our visually impaired student does.
He seemed to understand what I was saying (either that or he shut up about it!). I've found that I've often needed to address the class when something like this happens. Why does Sue get to sit on a bean bag? How come Miguel has play doh in his desk? Why does John get to stand up to do his work? And so on.
How do you address fairness?