The first step an educator should take when starting to write lesson plans for students with various learning disabilities is to look at their files to determine their eligibility for special education services, the interventions the students have had and the students current level of performance, this can be also achieved by conducting a pre-assessment.
When dealing with students with various disabilities in the same classroom, it can be a little challenging to do a lesson plan that is individualized and goal oriented for each student. When writing a lesson plan for students with various learning disabilities, always focus on the main principles of teaching students with disabilities which are:
- Engagement – Teachers should always make sure that they make the lesson engaging to the point that the student is motivated to learn from the desire of being competent and for the love of learning, rather than for a grade, teachers approval or acceptance into a good college.
- Belonging, competence , value and safety – Students with various learning disabilities have to feel that they belong, are safe and are valued before they really exert fully in the classroom, this is a critical dimension of an effecting learning environment.
- Connections with constructs – This is also known as relevance where the student has pre-existing understandings of the subject matter being taught.
- Information with conceptual frameworks – Special educators should focus on making the students understand the facts and ideas within the context of what is being taught, so that knowledge can be organized in ways that will help with retrieval and application. An example would be a teacher teaching on the migration of honey bees can use illustrations as a way to help the students to organize the material which in turn helps with retrieval.
- Meta-cognition – This is where students are encouraged to verbalize their thinking in order for the teacher to monitor their understanding and internal dialog or conversation. Meta-cognition allows students to activate background knowledge, self explain in order to improve understanding and note failures in their comprehension.
Sample Student Needs and Background
Lesson plans for students with various learning disabilities should reference a needs assessment. Effective special educators should always become familiar with the relevant aspects of students background and knowledge. Here is an example of a needs assessment as it would be used in a lesson plan for students with various learning disabilities.
Taylor has been diagnosed as having Learning disabilities. She seems very interested in learning and wants to do well. She loves to read aloud in class and tries hard to pay attention in class. She loves Soccer, Swimming, basketball and cooking. She wants to be a lawyer or a language interpreter when she grows up. She currently reads below grade level and has difficulty maintaining attention.
Taylor needs to have different activities to help her pay attention, She needs extended time to allow for periods where she might not be paying attention, She most likely will work better in small groups to maintain attention, She needs to be allowed to read to help her improve her language skills.
An effective special educator should be able to articulate clear learning goals and objectives for the lesson that are appropriate for the students. Here are examples of clear learning objectives and goals.
- Given a handout on citizenship, the student will be able to (SWBAT) individually Identify at least 5 rights, 5 duties and 5 responsibilities of a citizen.
- Given a handout on citizenship, SWBAT discuss in groups of 2 at least 3 differences between responsibilities of a citizen and the duties of a citizen.
An effective special educator should create or select teaching methods, learning activities and instructional material or other resources that are appropriate for the students that are aligned to the goals of the lesson. Here is an example of teaching methods and materials that a teacher may use.
- Cooperative learning- Students will be asked to work together in groups
- Inductive- Students will have several worksheets to work on and come up with a solution from the general to the specific.
- Effective questioning- A teacher should ask questions as he/she lectures to monitor understanding.
- Overhead projector
- Construction paper
- Glue sticks
An effective special educator should be able to demonstrate to the students an understanding of the connections between the content that was learned previously, the current content and the content that remains to be learned in the future. Here is an example of content in lesson plans for student with various learning disabilities;
The focus of this lesson is to teach students the roles of a United States Citizen. The students have previously been introduced to the bill of rights and the 27 amendments to the Constitution and are aware of their rights as a United States Citizen.
Today’s lesson will help them understand that although citizens have certain rights, they also have certain responsibilities and duties that they must perform in exchange for the rights they are given. This will prepare students for a future lesson on factors that influence citizens beliefs and behaviors.
Effective special educators should always teach for student learning. A teacher should always ask if they are making the learning goals and instructional procedures clear to the students.
The teacher should make the content comprehensible to the students, the teacher should encourage the students to expand their thinking, the teacher should monitor the students understanding of content by providing feedback to the students to assist in learning and adjusting learning activities and using instructional time effectively. Here is an example;
- Start off by giving the students a pre-assessment to determine if they know the difference between duties and responsibilities. As the students walk into the classroom, hand each student a piece of paper with a phrase that will be either a duty or responsibility. The students will then go to the back of the classroom whereby there will be two different sections. One section will be for duties and one for responsibilities. The students are to paste their phrase on the right section.
- Students will then be handed a worksheet and helped to define what a duty and a responsibility is. A duty is something you must do and a responsibility is something you should do. Give students an example like; paying taxes is a duty while voting is a responsibility. Have the students work together to find at least two other examples and answer question 1 and 2 on the worksheet. Go through the examples with the students to determine mastery.
- Students will then be given a worksheet on a responsible citizen. They are to categorize the actions of a responsible citizen into three groups. Go through the worksheet with the student to determine mastery.
- Students will have a cut and paste activity whereby they will have to determine if the strips they have are either duties or responsibilities. The students will paste their information on construction paper.
- Students will revise the information learned before taking their benchmark. Students will then have to take the benchmark.
If time allows students will be handed a crossword puzzles to test their knowledge.
An effective special educator should be able to create and select evaluation strategies that are appropriate for the students and that are aligned with the goals of the lesson. Here is an example of evaluative strategies that may be used.
- Students will be given a pre-assessment to test their previous knowledge.
- Students will be handed a worksheet on examples of duties and examples of responsibilities
- Students will be given a worksheet that till help them categorize the actions of a responsible citizen.
- Students will cut and paste strips of phrases and should be able to determine if the phrase is a duty or a responsibility.
- Students will be given a benchmark that covers the duties and responsibilities of citizens.
Students will be asked to do a crossword to further increase their Civics vocabulary on words they have learned so far.
Well On Your Way!
It is always important to remember when writing lesson plans for students with various learning disabilities that the lesson should always be student focused and to the best extent possible individualized.
Students with learning disabilities just need an extra push in order for them to reach their full potential.