Monday, November 3, 2014

Special Ed Lesson Plans & Currently!

Darn it, I can't believe Currently slipped by me this month!!! Did it you too?? 

listening - my daughter has a bad toothache. I know they hurt, but she'll be 20 in a few weeks, I've been in Vegas all day, and there's nothing I can do about it at 7:00 in the evening. Luckily, I took the day off tomorrow and we can hopefully get her in to the dentist.  

loving - Yay! We get two days this year for Veteran's Day. That's a first! We are off on Monday and Tuesday!

thinking - Went to what I thought was going to be a fabulous training with my paras and another sped teacher and her para today....."Working Together - Teacher & Paraeducator Collaboration." The training was in Vegas, which is a 1 1/2 hour drive. While I send kudos to those that put it together; they did a great job.....and I know there are many that attended, especially new teachers that probably greatly benefited, but we felt that we learned nothing. We are already doing everything that was covered! So kudos to us I guess, and when all said and done, it was fun collaborating in the school van together all the way there and back and we had a great lunch together at first time! That part, we need to do more often!

wanting - tomorrow is my yearly mammogram...only this time I was bad and didn't get one last year, so this is my 2-year. Not having any problems, but you always worry about bad results. 

needing - I seriously need a paper cutter for the house. Keep carrying mine at school back and forth! I think that's what I'll get with my SAM's Club teacher rewards gift card!

reading - blogs of course! Like I told my principal once, I'm not much of a book reader, but blogs are seriously my professional development. Us sped teachers don't have as many PD opportunities as GE teachers, nor do we have the collaboration opportunities since we are often the only one in our building. Reading blogs allows me that collaboration and keeps me current on educational practices! My principal has often shared new programs and/or strategies with the staff that I learned about months before in blogland! I now try to share all my new findings with her and she appreciates it!

And now as lesson plans! There has been a discussion on my FB page about the challenges of creating lesson plan formats for special education classrooms. While I'm no expert and continue to learn through trial and error everyday in my room, and have created many plans that didn't work, this template is currently working for me well and has been since last year! 

I must also note the demographics of my classroom and students that these plans have been designed for. I have students in grades 1 - 5....2 first graders, 1 second grader, 3 third graders, 2 fourth graders, and 2 fifth graders. I have 1 Autism, 3 MR, 1 OHI, 2 ED (emotional disturbance), and 3 SLD (severe learning disability). I currently have one mainstreamed this year and others are with me all day and I teach them all subjects, with health, social studies, science, and life skills rotated in the last block of the day. Behavior is taught and reinforced all day long!
This is an overview of our entire day. 

My ten students are grouped into 4 groups and by color. My plans are also written in a weekly format. What you see here will be done every day that week, as we know how much these students need repeated practice and lesson structure. Plus, we know how frequently we never accomplish a planned lesson due to behaviors that arise or students needing additional practice and that lesson may need to be carried onto the next day. This page shows, if you notice at the top is the "teacher station" and is what I will do with the students when they come to me.  

This is what my aide, Carolyn, will do with the students at her station. She works the "at your seat" station. The standards you see in the center column are actually not for the students, but are evidence of MY teaching instructional standards. My district has a new evaluation system this year and we are expected to follow the NEPF (Nevada Educational Proficiency Framework) where 80% of our eval is based on instructional standards, 15% on professional standards, and 5% will be based on student outcomes. We must show evidence and I have chosen to show the bulk of my evidence in my lesson plans. Student standards are added in "Curriculum Engine," an online database where we enter our lesson plans each week. Curriculum Engine allows us to attach standards easily by clicking and dragging within the program. For those of you that don't need this section or need to elaborate more on IEP goals, this is a great section to do just that! You can add each student's goals or indicate what you'll be focusing on with each student.  

This is what my aide, Peggy, will do with the students at her station. She works the "word work" station. My fourth station is independent......reading.

Now we pretty much go through the same rotation system, but now we begin our math rotations, which is what you'll see below. I'm still working on my teaching standards here as this is something I recently added.

Now while the whole morning was differentiated centers..... the rest of our day after lunch is all whole group. We will do whole group math, similar to what most call morning circle. We will do "question of the day" to work on speaking and listening skills, plus social skills and communication. We will do life skills, which covers either our Science, social studies, or health for the day! 

On Tuesday's students get their life skills in the computer lab. 

Every Wednesday our school pledges to do a "Be Kind" activity, so that guides our life skills lesson on Wednesdays. And for elementary, the you see listed is fabulous for this. You should check it out! It gets my students excited about Wednesdays and being kind!

As you can see the last 20 minutes at the end of the day is filled with various tasks. This 20 minutes is so valuable in so many ways!!! To begin, students that didn't complete their work earlier in the day are held accountable by using this time to complete their "missing work." Seldom is there any, as students have learned that they don't like doing missing work during social time, so they'd better complete it when expected. Students that have no missing work, get social time. They get to play games, interact, build, or whatever they choose to do. What's even better, is that during this 20 minutes, Carolyn is doing sight words with every student, calling them over 1:1, Peggy is doing flashcards on sounds, numbers, or whatever I have targeted for the student to work on, and I'm doing Edmark 1:1, or progress monitoring students.

It really is a great system we have going! Although we do have severe behaviors that can sometimes rock our day....for the most part, if you came into my classroom, you would see students learning, moving from center to center fluently, and engaged....and all following this lesson plan. Again, even after 7 years of teaching, I'm continuously learning by trial and error and refining my teaching skills. Plus, what may work this year, may not work next year. When I see something not working....I dont wait, I change it up immediately! It is totally always a work in progress in the special ed classroom with different needs and circumstances. I think may be one of the reasons I love it so much!!!! But I hope that I have given you some ideas that you can use or at least run with to help lesson planning for these extraordinary, yet challenging students a little less complicated! Also remember....when you let lesson planning consume you, as I used to do, and as it can easily do when planning for this many levels, you and your students suffer. Keep it as simple as possible and enjoy your students!  As special educators, we know that our lesson plans rarely get implemented anyway the way they are written due to so many unpredictable challenges that unexpectedly occur in our days.
Think of your lesson plan as more of a schedule that you and your aides follow each day and your evidence of IEP goals implementation.

I know that some of the pics of these plans are difficult to read, so {here} you can download these plans in a PDF document for a better look. 

Also, if you forgot to link up your Currently with Farley or want to see what it's all about, here's a quick link {here}to Farley's page! 

Happy Lesson Planning! 


  1. I am late, late, late this month for the currently too! Oops! I will do better for December! I hope your daughter feels better soon! I had a terrible toothache last year and it was awful! Then it hurt my bank balance too!

    Teaching Maths with Meaning

  2. I am really happy that your mammogram results came out good. A family member has had a recurrence and it's a difficult time at the moment, not knowing what's going to happen. I also know the feeling of sitting through a day of PD and going home not being any smarter. Sometimes, I think these PDs are held so that it can get ticked off on a checklist to say it's been done! What do you think?

  3. Thanks for stopping by! Smart Exchange is one of the sites I've been using. But, I didn't know about Wonder grove & will be sure to check it out. : )

    Enjoy your 4 day weekend & good luck with the mammogram results!
    The Third Grade Learning Spot

  4. Hi! Thanks for stopping by! I am so glad to have found your blog. Like you said, it is nice to collaborate with others online and to hear how they modify and adapt lessons for different populations of students. I have taught resource room & self contained settings, but am currently in regular education/special education inclusion co-teaching.


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