s m L

Chapter Three: Day-To-Day Programs


Educators that have been involved in including students with special needs in the regular classroom have found that there are no easy solutions or cookbooks to accomplish the task. This is because every child is unique and requires educational plans that respond to these differences. However, some educators have found that there are common threads that are necessary in the successful inclusion of all children. These include:

  • Welcoming parents and family members as part of the planning team.
  • Involving the student, their classmates and peers on the planning team.
  • Focusing on the student's strengths and possibilities rather than focusing on what is "wrong" with the student.
  • Having a common commitment in believing in inclusion as the best choice for the student.

1. Building Inclusion With Maps

MAPS is one of the variety of planning resources now available to educators. You may know of and use others. We will provide for you the key elements of this process but encourage you to continue to use the strategies that work for you and to share with others the processes that have been helpful to you. MAPS is not a recipe but a series of questions that will give the school a planning process to help focus positively to meet a challenging students needs in a regular class.

McGill Action Planning System (MAPS, 1989) developed by Drs. Marsha Forest and Evelyn Lusthaus is a tool to assist schools with including students with disabilities in the regular classroom. The MAPS process treats the school as a community and emphasizes the fact that communities are built on positive collaborative relationships.

The MAPS process provides a positive way of planning for a student's education. The process was designed to include parents as equal partners in the planning process. MAPS guarantees that all participants get equal opportunity to contribute to the planning process and that the session will be conducted in everyday language. MAPS is not a planning session at which parents listen to experts tell them about their child and what they think is best for him/her. A MAPS session is a sharing of information and responsibility by the key players involved in a student's life, and at a MAPS session, people listen to one another and share ideas and concerns. The main focus of a MAPS session in on the student, not on the existing structure. Participants in a MAPS include the student and their parents, classmates, teachers and administrators.

MAPS is a two-part process. The first part is the team meeting to collectively respond to seven key questions. These questions help the group to create a profile of the student and identify ways to include the student. The second part of the process entails the team meeting when needed to develop, implement and revise the plans developed at the first meeting.

At the MAPS meeting a facilitator elicits responses from the group. Responses are recorded on chart paper for all to see. The first three questions are first directed to the student's parents. Then the student's peers are asked to give their input before teachers and administrators contribute to the discussion starting at question 4.

Following are the seven questions:

  • 1. What is your child's history?
  • 2. What is your dream for your child?
  • 3. What is your nightmare?
  • 4. Who is the student?
  • 5. What are the student’s strengths, talents, interests?
  • 6. What are the student's needs?
  • 7. What would the student's ideal day at school look like and what must be done to make it happen?

Map is:

  • teamwork
  • a personal approach
  • an ongoing process
  • trusting peers insight and input
  • looking at the situation from multiple perspectives
  • active planning
  • cultivates sources of natural support
  • starting point
  • starting point for an IPP
  • reminds all of us that teachers can not do it alone

Maps is not:

  • a cookbook
  • a quick fix
  • always necessary
  • an end in itself
  • a task analysis
  • expecting students to take all the responsibility
  • an IPP but rather a frame to develop an IPP

The essence of the MAPS process is the team's collective vision of the child's life within their neighbourhood school. The involvement of peers is essential to the success of the process. Time and time again peers have demonstrated excellent insight and suggestions about how to include students. MAPS cannot occur until the student with a disability has been in the classroom for a period of time so that their peers can get to know them.

For further resources about MAPS see: Video "With a Little Help From My Friends" and the book "Action for Inclusion" by Marsha Forest et. al.

Keith's Map

The following is a MAPS completed for a grade ten student. Keith had been in a special education class outside of his neighbourhood until he was included in his community high school for grade ten. The MAPS session took place after Keith had been in the school for six weeks. This gave the students and the staff an opportunity to get to know Keith, which is essential in the process of successful inclusion.

MAPS Participants: Norma (parent), Karen (integration facilitator), Cam, Kathie, Harry, Ray, Donna, Sarah, Helen, Susan, Mark, Kathy, Ron, Justin, Neil (students), Linda (sister), David (brother), John, Dick, Darren (teachers), Shelia (vice-principal), Deanna (recorder), and Heather (facilitator).

1. What is your child's history?

  • When Keith was 2 1/2 the family realized he had a problem.
  • They realized that he was a frustrated little boy.
  • They received services through a children's hospital, then service through a private segregated school.
  • As Keith became older his school program was no longer meeting his needs so the family began to search for an integrated setting.
  • Keith was labeled as having autism.

2. What is your dream for your child?

  • a normal life style within community
  • work, perhaps a steady job
  • social interaction (ability to deal with others)
  • independence, interdependence
  • acceptance, from students, other workers, etc.
  • freedom to communicate
  • equal treatment
  • good social life, supported by friends
  • complete inclusion

3. What is your nightmare?

  • institutionalization
  • social rejection
  • misunderstanding and ridiculed by others
  • unemployment

4. Who is the student?

  • a strong young man
  • full of character
  • eager trying to learn
  • hyper
  • a nice guy to be around
  • cheerful
  • fun loving
  • assertive, growing in confidence
  • warm, caring
  • open to learn
  • insecure
  • hardworking
  • wonderful sense of humour
  • tries really hard
  • stubborn
  • a cool guy
  • surprising
  • affectionate
  • wants to be normal
  • clever, witty
  • outgoing
  • absorbs environment easily
  • improving, learning all the time
  • attentive, observant and sensitive

5. What are the Student's strengths, talents, interests?

  • expresses emotions
  • organized, well organized
  • good swimmer
  • math whiz
  • good pianist
  • responsible
  • conscientious about chores and other things
  • creative
  • artistic
  • cooperative
  • good on computer
  • sense of achievement
  • consistent, precise, perfectionist
  • growing
  • simple skills (telling time, recognizing money, etc.
  • willingness to participate
  • increase in spontaneous speech

6. What are the student's needs?

  • supervision for some activities
  • checks on unsupervised activities (e.g., walking to school)
  • recognition of his capabilities (by himself and others)
  • attention, care, love
  • equal treatment
  • his own friends, a gang to support him
  • understanding
  • being driven to do things even if he doesn't always want to
  • same discipline procedures as everyone else
  • one-to-one attention
  • opportunity to communicate
  • social skills
  • functional skills
  • growing
  • practical skills (e.g., use of cafeteria, own classes, etc.)
  • inconspicuous supervision

7. What would the student's ideal day at school look like and what must be done to make it happen?

Keith walks to school with sister and her friend Sarah.

Educational Goals for Keith

The following is a list of goals that were considered valuable for Keith to learn during the grade ten school year. The presented skills were not all considered for Keith's IPP but rather represent some of the specific skills that were targeted along with incidental skills that Keith had a chance to learn. Keith had either achieved or made great advances in each of the following:

  • increase self-confidence
  • act appropriately in various social situations
  • greet friends and teachers
  • walk appropriately in the halls
  • walk around groups of people (not through)
  • increase eye contact
  • take direction from various teacher's and peers
  • attend social events
  • hang out with friends and act appropriately
  • improve posture
  • walk beside teachers and peers rather than behind
  • act appropriately in various physical settings (library, gym)
  • decrease inappropriate gestures, staring, rocking
  • respond to peer pressure and natural cues
  • adapt to changes - more readily-increase tolerance
  • accept responsibility for choices and actions
  • improve problem solving and choice making skills
  • sample a wide variety of leisure options
  • follow directions - increase attention span - communicate feelings without outbreaks or aggressions
  • carry books properly
  • use locker independently
  • walk to and from school independently
  • know class schedule
  • attend classes promptly and independently
  • use vending machines
  • make small purchases in cafeteria and bookstore
  • use locker room independently
  • identify washroom before entering (gentleman)
  • improve reading comprehension
  • improve functional math skills
  • increase cooking/cleaning skills
  • sample various work experience options
  • learn to use the telephone
  • improve athletic skills

Maps for All

Educators have found that MAPS process has many uses in the regular classroom. The following stories illustrate how teachers, teacher assistants and consultants have used the planning tool to support inclusion of students in all aspects of school.

During the year, I was a teacher assistant in the grade five class, we did a "MAPS" for a student with special needs. The students in the grade five class were all involved with the process for planning the student with special needs integrated program in the class.

Later in the year some of the students decided they would like a "MAPS" for themselves. As the facilitator we did several "MAPS" for students that year and we found it to be a very useful tool for boosting self-esteem and showed that the student with special needs wasn't any different than the rest of the class.

Modified MAPS: Recess with a Difference

Alice was a member of a grade three class. Alice's parents were concerned about how she spent her time on the playground during recess. Although the children did hang out with Alice at recess they spent the entire time pushing her around in her wheelchair. Alice's peers needed assistance in figuring different ways to include her.

Alice's parents and teacher requested assistance from a district consultant to help them brainstorm other ways that the children could interact with Alice on the playground. A time was scheduled for the class to develop a plan of action.

The children were asked what they knew about Alice and what they thought she liked. Alice was unable to verbally communicate with her peers, needed assistance from others to attend to all her personal needs and was unable to use her hands independently to play games.

The children generated a long list of things they knew Alice liked. They said Alice liked when people spoke to her, touched her, and read to her. With this in mind Alice's peers were asked what other things besides pushing her around the playground might she like to do with them.

Next the children said that they could play games using Alice's tray so she could hear their conversation. They said they could play games like Tiddlywinks, marbles, checkers, and Trouble on her tray. From these suggestions it was decided to put together a box of games for the children to take out on the playground.

In a short time, the plan was put in place and Alice was seen enjoying herself with her friends hanging out with her. She was seen sitting up tall and locating to the many conversations around her while her peers played games on her tray and chattered.

Back to top

2. Role of IPP

An IPP is a written plan to guide the education for a student with disabilities and describes how the educational program is developed, implemented, and reviewed.

IPP meetings are a required component in school districts today. IPP meetings can become positive planning sessions focusing on the inclusion of the student in the regular classroom when the following five principles are considered in the planning sessions.

1. Inclusion: The focus must be on the inclusion of the student within the existing classroom. Special education should be supports and services provided to the student in the regular classroom and not viewed as a place.

2. Individualization: Needs and educational goals are determined individually for each student. Each student is unique and goals should be individualized to meet their unique learning needs.

3. Teamwork: It is essential that educators, parents and peers share in the responsibility to develop ways to include students with disabilities. The team approach provides multiple perspectives and provides the best way to develop a program to include the student.

4. Dynamism: The IPP should be viewed as a fluid document and should not become rigid. It should be updated and changed through out the school year as the team gets to know the student and the student demonstrates their own rate of learning. It is important to maintain contact with the team members so that as changes are made members are aware. The plan should not be made before the child is in the class. Once the student is in the regular classroom it is easier to determine the actual needs and supports required and what is appropriate to expect of the student to learn in a set period of time. It is important that the team does not get caught in a "developmental model" such that the student is limited in being exposed to curriculum assumed to be at a "higher level". Everyone does not learn in the same pre-determined linear sequence and at the same rate.

5. Environment: IPP goals should not only reflect the skills to be focused on but also the environment in which they are to be targeted and performed.

The MAPS meeting (described earlier) provides an excellent starting point for the planning of a student's IPP because:

  • it provides the environment to develop a common shared philosophy and vision for the student.
  • the MAPS like the IPP depends on the joint efforts of the team to build on the strengths of the student.
  • a list of the student's strengths, interests, needs and goals have been generated, and it attends to what the student's day looks like and provides a focus on goals that are meaningful for the student within the context of the classroom and the school.

If a MAPS session is not completed or necessary the team should ensure they:

  • have a common shared vision that supports inclusion.
  • begin the meeting by listing the environments that the student will spend their day.
  • brainstorm a list of the student's strengths, interests, accomplishments and needs.
  • list the student's needs addressing the following:

- educational needs

- the student's need to develop relationships with their peers

- the inclusion of the student in all the class and school activities including extra curricular events, camping trips, concerts, etc.

- the need to be exposed to good role models for learning social skills, communication skills, positive school behaviors, etc.

  • anticipate the needs and skills the student will require to fit into the targeted environments, develop goals and programs to address these, and continue to revise and change the goals as the team gets to know the student.

The most useful IPP is one that is practical, and attends to a few useful goals that are based on the regular education goals. Format is not as important as content and readability. It need not be complicated or exhaustive. Basic components should relate to the student's present level of educational performance, specific intervention strategies, long-term and short-term goals, evaluation procedures and review dates. The teacher may include information on year-end evaluations, classroom accommodations, areas of strengths and needs (including medical needs).

Inclusive IPP

The following is an example of a student's IPP that focuses on an inclusive program with the philosophy "one curriculum for all".

Nigel's IPP

Name: Nigel
Grade: One
School: Urban, Alberta
Teacher: Ms. Caring
Principal: Mrs. Supporter
Program Assistant: Ms. Facilitator

Students Strengths and Interests: Nigel's disposition is such that students and adults are drawn to him. Nigel is very pleasant to be with and he has a wide circle of friends, even beyond his classroom. A major asset that Nigel has is his caring, supportive family.

Parent/Student Involvement: Nigel's parents are concerned about seeing that Nigel has the best educational provisions. They have been/are involved in the following:

  • discussion regarding physical accommodations and transportation
  • selection of the program assistant
  • drawing up Nigel's IPP
  • maintaining daily dialogue with the school through a communication booklet
  • maintaining regular ophthalmologic and seating clinic appointments

Parents have requested consultation before referrals to consultants are initiated by the school.

Student's Needs and Relevant Medical Information:

  • mobility (Nigel is in a wheelchair and requires full assistance for transition)
  • hearing impairment
  • cortical visual impairment (wears glasses)
  • requires range of motion exercises
  • feeding by a gastrostomy tube
  • toileting assistance required
  • communication (receptive and expressive)
  • must be given opportunity to relax

Essential Equipment: Wheelchair, supine stander, commode, change table, exercise mat, and 36" ball for relaxation.

Programming Considerations: Nigel must have continual assistance from an adult. Nigel must have access to a variety of consultants to address his specific needs. A multi-sensory approach must be used continuously to maximize Nigel's awareness to changes in his environment.

Parents emphasize that integration with regular students is very important and want to maintain that aspect of programming, which was implemented in his previous school.

Maintaining consistency and continuity of routines between home and school is very important for Nigel's progress.

Educational Goals

A Day in the Life of Nigel

When Nigel arrives at school there are usually a few friends, from various grades, waiting to ask him whether they can bring him into the school. His friends will help him take off his outdoor clothes and if it is a boy, will take him to the bathroom if he needs to go. (The boys have learned how to empty Nigel's urinary leg bag).

Nigel's days often begin with friends sharing "treasures", a picture or something from home or outside that they want to give to him.

During opening exercises Nigel sits on the floor with his classmates. Each day one of Nigel's classmates is his partner for the day. They work together; the children know how to work "hand over hand" with Nigel. If anyone wants to do anything with, or for Nigel they hold his hand, ask him and wait for his response in lip movement.

Nigel participates in all of the class activities, including gym, music, library, show and tell, art, assemblies, and paired reading.

At snack and lunchtime Nigel eats with his classmates; the children all enjoy feeding Nigel and have learned to fill the syringe for his gastrostomy tube. Nigel's partner usually sits in his wheelchair, next to Nigel and holds and refills the syringe.

During recess breaks Nigel enjoys playing outside with his friends. He is very popular. Students from all grades push him in his wheelchair, pull him in his sled and include him in playground games.

The period after lunch is Nigel's exercise time. His partner joins him in the unoccupied classroom across the hall and they exercise together. First, Nigel relaxes on his big exercise ball while his partner helps to rub his back and gently moves the ball. On the exercise mat both students work through Nigel's exercise routine and then Nigel's partner assists in helping Nigel into his standing frame. Nigel's friends are very comfortable with helping Nigel. They will lift his head up when he is not sitting upright in his wheelchair, wiping drool from his mouth and they love to ride his wheelchair, use his light box, standing frame and other equipment.

Nigel's day usually ends with hugs from his friends and then his partner walks him out to the bus.

Back to top

3. Critical Activities Matrix

This is a tool that has been used by teachers to continue to maintain an individual focus for the child with a disability while simultaneously attending to the needs of the whole class.

The CRITICAL ACTIVITIES MATRIX developed by Laurie Meston and Randy Cranston provides teachers with a frame to integrate students' IPP objectives into the routine class activities. It provides the teacher with a way to look for places to accommodate and generalize the student's specific goals within the everyday structure of classroom instruction.

To complete the chart you begin by listing the student's IPP objectives down left column of the chart. Next, list the daily activities of the classroom across the top of the matrix. Then cross reference the IPP objectives with the classroom activities. This gives a list of places that the student’s objectives can be integrated into the classroom routines.

The chart assist teachers to determine places that the student's IPP objectives can naturally be incorporated into the wealth of daily activities that happen within the classroom.

The following is an example of how a Child's IPP goals were actualized in the classroom through the regular classroom activities.

Basic Skills - Critical Activities

Student: Susan Year/Grade: 1 Date: October, 94

Critical Activities

Created by: Laurie Meston and Randy Cranston - Maple Ridge B.C.

Basic Skills - Critical Activities

Student: Susan Year/Grade: 1 Date: October, 94

Critical Activities

Created by: Laurie Meston and Randy Cranston - Maple Ridge B.C.

Basic Skills - Critical Activities

Student: Susan Year/Grade: 1 Date: October, 94

Critical Activities

Created by: Laurie Meston and Randy Cranston - Maple Ridge B.C.

4. Multi-Level Instruction

The rationale of multi-level learning and participation is based on:

  • 1. While all students learn, not all students learn at the same rate.
  • 2. While all students learn, not all students learn in the same way.
  • 3. All students have the same right to inclusion - to be contributing, participating, learning members of the group.
  • 4. Teachers have a responsibility to teach all members of the class.
  • 5. Instruction and participation expectations must be adapted and/or adjusted to meet the needs of the individual members of a class (Stone, J. 1987).

When designing a lesson to include all students in the classroom, teachers need to attend to the two types of information exchange:

  • INPUT MODES (i.e. view/observe, read, smell/taste/touch, listen and try/do/use) and
  • OUTPUT MODES (i.e. make/construct, verbalize, solve, write and perform).

Teachers begin by alternating and adjusting the input and output modes. Teachers develop activities that include all levels of thinking (i.e., knowledge, comprehension, application, analysis, synthesis, and evaluation). As teachers know it is not necessary that each student enters into the lesson with the same set of knowledge and skills or at precisely the same time nor complete the same set of tasks. What is important, in each lesson design is that there is something for everyone.

For example:

  • 1. Students working in a small group on a social studies project on the topic of special Canadian communities, might have one student labeling pictures of a First Nation reserve, while others are drawing pictures and researching the topic in an encyclopaedia.
  • 2. Taking the test, answering only the first ten questions orally when asked by teacher or peer while peers complete the whole test independently.
  • 3. Typing a letter to a friend while the rest of the class is typing a business letter.

To provide for multi-level instruction it is necessary to adapt and modify the regular curriculum. Adapted/modified curriculum refers to changing the regular classroom curriculum slightly, making it more suitable for the student by making partial changes.

Adapted/modified curriculum is:

  • done in regular classrooms with typical students.
  • with "real" material as similar as possible to other students.
  • only limited by an individual's creativity.
  • facilitated by problem solving with others.
  • encouraged interaction and acceptance.
  • exercised with caution to ensure that students are successful and challenged.
  • based on the view of one curriculum for all with students participating in the part of the lesson that is challenging for them.
  • making the fewest modifications to the lesson as possible for any particular student
  • maintaining original concept or intent of the lesson.

Novel Study

Susan's class was studying a novel. The story is quite challenging for all. Many of the intricacies escape Susan's attention, but she comprehends the main story line. Some of the skills Susan will learn from the unit will be significantly different from what the rest of the class learns. But she is happy to be able to use the same story. The novel is after all the focal point for most of the class

The teacher struggled with Susan being included in the study of the same novel as her peers. She felt that this would be beyond Susan's frustration level, that she wouldn't get anything out of it, that she better study a different story at the same time. However, it was decided by the team that it was important that Susan use the same novel as her peers even though they were not sure if this was the best way to go. To assist the teacher the family read the novel to Susan each night to prepare her for the class activities.

In a meeting after completion of the unit, a member of the team expressed some concern that Susan had lost some of her reading and language skills. A more experienced member of the team, however, felt that it was more likely that there was only a lack of opportunity for Susan to display these skills. The team went with this interpretation because at home there was no indication that Susan had regressed in her managing of language. It was decided in further novels that the team would continue to look for ways for Susan to demonstrate her reading skills while participating in the same novel as her peers.

Back to top

5. Strategies - Varying Teaching Techniques

The following section lists ideas generated and tried by teachers in British Columbia, Alberta and New Brunswick to accommodate for students with disabilities in the regular classroom. Presented are a number of strategies and stories to illustrate how teachers have adapted curriculum to include a range of students within the classroom. The lists are not exhaustive, rather they should be viewed as a starting point.

A. Adaptation to the Environment

Classroom Environment
Position in room:

  • consider student's senses (vision, hearing, touch and smell)
  • sit at front of the room
  • sit at the back of the room
  • sit away from noise (light, street, hall, computer)
  • sit with back to the window
  • sit by the teacher
  • change lighting (light on desk, back to window...)

Seating at Desk:

  • wheel chair accessible desk
  • lap top desk
  • lip on the side of the desk
  • flip-top desk
  • use large table instead of a desk
  • box for feet so that the student's feet are supported

General organization:

  • lazy Susan to organize desk
  • drawers beside desk
  • soup can for pencils
  • bookends/book holder to hold books on desk
  • tie pencil to desk
  • attach pencil to student with extension key ring
  • have list of items to complete on students desk
  • have timetable on desk, in book, etc. (pictures or written)
  • reduce excess paper and material on desk
  • color code class duotangs
  • have student come in early and go over day's plan
  • headphones to quiet outbursts
  • sit on mat at circle time
  • sit on chair at circle time

B. Adapting Presentation

Teacher Presentation:

  • use hand signals/sign language
  • separate visual/auditory information
  • separate instruction
  • stand close to the student
  • speak clearly to the student
  • break information into steps
  • ask students to repeat the instructions
  • demonstrate/model
  • use pictures
  • have peers repeat the instructions so the student hears the directions a number of times
  • use concrete material
  • use different colored chalk/pens
  • use multi-sensory examples
  • peer problem solving - How can ________ complete ________?
  • simplify instructions
  • give structured overview, student fill in the blanks while listening
  • two column notes
  • involve students in presentation - concept mapping, brainstorming
  • modify pace
  • provide additional time to preview materials, concepts tasks, take tests
  • photocopy information
  • tape record information
  • highlight key points in text book, student reads these points
  • if students' have visual impairment use high contrast materials and determine where and when they see best
  • use small group discussions
  • use cooperative learning groups
  • use learning teams
  • use collaborative activities
  • change instruction groups frequently based on purpose of the lesson
  • use experiential activities like:

- role-play

- body movement

- computerized instruction

- group story writing

- building models

- learning centers

  • give students hints or prompts to answer questions
  • give students extra time to process responses

Written on the Blackboard

Mike had many problems with communication which were linked to his hearing, verbal and cognitive skills. This led to a lot of frustration for him as well as the teacher assistant who helped him.

It was discovered that Mike usually enjoyed simple pictures that showed an outcome. The teacher assistant happened to like drawing and started to show Mike what she wanted him to do with pictures, either drawn on the board or scrap paper.

An example of this was when the bell rang and Mike did not come into the class. He stayed on the swing. The teacher assistant drew a picture of all the classmates sitting in their desk with sad faces and Mike's desk empty. On the edge of the page she drew Mike alone on the swing. When Mike saw this picture he not only knew what was expected of him but smiled when he realized that his peers wanted him to join them.

C. Adapting Material

Use alternate mode of student materials:

  • dictating to scribe
  • tape recording
  • drawing pictures
  • cutting pictures from magazines
  • building models
  • using computers
  • enlarge/shrink material
  • use overlays/acetate on textbook pages
  • cut and paste
  • use manipulatives
  • use calculators - talking, size
  • use an outline for student to follow lecturer

Adapted Devices:

  • chalk holder
  • adapted scissors
  • build up pencils, pencil grips
  • bingo markers - highlighters
  • erasable pens
  • dycem to hold paper on the desk
  • corner punches
  • affix number and alphabet line on desk
  • date stamps, number stamps
  • stencils
  • no carbon paper (NRC) - one student takes notes for another
  • spell checker
  • word processing on computer

Adapting Page set-up:

  • line indicators
  • selections on paper - draw lines, fold
  • different types of paper - graph paper
  • paper with mid line
  • raised line paper
  • provide more white space to put answer
  • highlight or color code (directions, keywords, topic sentences)
  • cover parts of worksheet
  • put less information on a paper
  • high contrast (blue mimeo hard to see)

D. Adaptive Assistance

Peer Assistance:

  • as model
  • as helper
  • organization assistance
  • answer questions
  • reader
  • scriber
  • team members in a cooperative lesson

Peer Assistance (Student with challenging needs):

  • help younger children
  • reading, math, general assistant
  • look at student's strengths
  • helps in the school
  • office
  • library
  • plants
  • score keeper
  • hands out books
  • sharpens pencils

Teacher Assistant:

  • assigned to school, works with the whole class
  • facilitates ownership by classroom teacher
  • support teacher to each teach every child well
  • work primarily in classroom with the teacher
  • problem solve with teacher

Consultant/Itinerant teacher:

  • work in classroom
  • model for teacher
  • use curriculum as guide

Community Support:

  • high school students
  • junior high students
  • volunteer grandparents
  • volunteer parents

E. Adapting Goals

Smaller amounts of work:

  • simplify
  • condense
  • combine/group
  • emphasize functional
  • easier questions

Same work different concepts:

  • addition instead of multiplication
  • number concept
  • use acetate
  • reading sight words (highlighted)

Community trips:

  • grocery store - different goals
  • running a business - different goals
  • cooking activities


  • High interest low vocabulary books
  • don't use time constraints
  • use open ended activities

Wayne's Story

During the grade six science class, the students were asked to do a report on an animal of their choice. They were to pay attention to the population numbers and if in fact they were endangered.

Wayne had problems with writing and spelling, which made it very hard to get a good mark on reports. Because so much of school is based around these skills, Wayne felt he could not do as well as other students. He started to find ways of getting out of work. He would do this by being the class clown and of course this led to lots of trouble for him.

The teacher knew that this assignment was going to be almost impossible for Wayne, so decided to give him another choice. It was decided that Wayne could do an oral report on the "Road Kill" of animals. This was of particular interest to him. He was encouraged to get the information where he could.

Wayne seemed pleased and got to work. He made phone calls to people in Fish and Wildlife, Forestry and Parks. They gave him a lot of information and sent him pamphlets.

Time had come for the students to share their reports with the class. Wayne delivered a wonderful report. He delivered his information with a sense of authority on the subject. The other students were very impressed and asked a lot of questions, which Wayne answered well. He went one step further and made a model of wood and clay of cars on a road and an animal trying to cross to help make his points clearer to his peers.

Wayne indeed contributed to the class that day and his peers saw something more than the class clown.


Incidental Learning

It was a grade seven science class and the students were given an assignment using magnets. This was a much harder assignment than what John could complete due to his mental challenges. As the class assistant, I came prepared with what I thought we would accomplish in this time. John was not in a very cooperative mood at this time so I put some magnets on the desk and stepped back to observe. John started moving the magnets around and discovered one that rolled across his desk very nicely and made a delightful sound too. As it rolled to the edge of the desk I caught it and gave it back to him. The next time it came to me I gave it back with a paper clip attached. He examined this for a while and then rolled the magnet to me again. Each time he rolled the magnet I returned it with some other small object that attracted the magnet.

John then indicated that he wanted to try the square magnet. He soon discovered that it would not roll. So we made a slide with the book so that the magnet could be slid over to me. We continued to explore other items that the magnet would attract through this manner for the remainder of the class.

F. Adaptive Evaluation

Evaluation Strategies should be simple:

  • set small goals
  • keep work samples
  • do spot checks
  • use video

Student, Peer, Teacher Evaluation:

  • self evaluation
  • what have you learned
  • demonstrate knowledge
  • use different criteria
  • evaluate progress on IPP
  • peer evaluation
  • observe - to determine if there has been improvement


  • have someone scribe
  • oral test
  • use calculator
  • draw pictures
  • demonstrate knowledge
  • curriculum based assessment
  • take home
  • open book
  • concept map, webbing
  • no time limit
  • take test in quiet room
  • provide more space
  • multiple choice format

Report Cards:

  • use same as other students
  • grade if not below C
  • write comments if D or E
  • attach anecdotal comments
  • give grade effort
  • update specific goals IPP

Back to top

6. Lesson Plans

A. Program Analysis Worksheet

This is just one example of how to look across themes to consider how to include all students within one set curriculum. This tool, developed by Laurie Meston and Randy Cranston, compliments what teachers already do in preparation for unit plans across subjects. You may have already designed your own that supports you in this task. This is just one example that can help improve our capacity to accommodate all children in the regular class. The goal of this example sheet is to help teachers modify unit/theme objective.

PROCESS: First list the objectives of unit down left hand side of sheet. Next list the type of evaluation used for typical students. Then decide if the students with special needs can achieve the objective as is (first choice). If not can the student achieve the objective if the teacher adapts presentation, environment, etc.

Continue moving through each area and jot down modification needed for the student to be included in the unit.

There does not have to be adaptations under each heading. The fewer the adaptations the student needs to achieve the goal the better.

List on the right of the sheet individual IPP objectives for the student that can be accommodated within this unit. The student may be working on fewer objectives than the other students.

The following is an example of how one student's IPP goals were integrated into the class project on bats.

Program Analysis Worksheet

NAME: Susan
Created by:Laurie Meston
Randy Cranston
Language Arts Goals

B. Using Themes

Theme plans are definitely the preferred way of integrating the interests and needs of students with special needs into the curriculum. Themes give an opportunity to integrate various subject areas and skills into a meaningful and interesting unit plan. Students are able to work on the theme throughout the school day and weave in writing assignments, math problems, reading assignments and oral presentations while the child with special needs can work on communication skills, social skills and specific academics goals appropriate for them. This allows students to concentrate on one particular area of content and pursue projects beyond the scope of the curriculum and the time usually allotted for subjects.

Viking Unit

The Viking unit worked particularly well for David during Grade 5. David was a boy with a developmental disability who had been integrated into my class. I found that he particularly enjoyed projects if the other students in the class were doing the same activity. It became my challenge to find things for David to do that would also be meaningful and fun for the other students.

As part of the unit we decided to have a Viking boat race on the creek that ran past the school. To get ready for the project, students had to research about Viking boats and construct models according to scale. Once the crafts were built they took them out to the creek for test runs. They came back to make revisions, to write up what problems they were encountering and their solutions for the problems. Meanwhile, David, enjoyed the research, looking at pictures of boats and constructing his model.

The next step was to set out the racecourse. David and two other members of the class took the meter wheel and measured out one kilometer of stream. This became David's mathematical problem. Meanwhile the other students were instructed to time their boats and calculate the rate of speed in meters per minutes and then to estimate according to scale, the rate of speed of real Viking boats.

David loved the activity and so did his classmates. Not only did David learn about Vikings and meters and kilometers, he also worked on his communication and socialization skills in a relaxed setting. I also learned something that year through themes. When you make it fun and incorporate the interests of the students, the learning outcomes usually far exceed the expectations of the curriculum and everyone is enriched and challenged.

Cooperation - A Trip to the Co-op

One of the key activities in a theme was a trip to the Co-op food store. It started out as an activity to include Dean, a student with Down Syndrome, into the theme unit but it turned out to be a great learning experience for everyone in the class.

The theme started out with Dean's task as picking out food for a nutritious snack, buy it, then come back to the class and prepare it. The other members of the class were to take notes and write a report about the trip when they returned to the class.

On return, the class decided to do a special projects related to commerce and cooperation. One group focused on researching the roles and careers in the supermarket. Then created reports and stories from their research.

The group that included Dean decided to set up a popcorn sale. Dean's jobs included buying the popcorn and the condiments and to be in charge of selling and making change. The other students had to keep track of costs, sales and profit. Then to research and decide on a suitable charity to donate their profit.

I advanced them ten dollars and sent them to the store with the teacher assistant. The project went well and at the end they had made a profit. The enthusiastic students picked their charity and sent their money without checking with me. As it turned out, their enthusiasm cost me ten dollars as they forgot to calculate their costs before determining their profit. It was a great learning experience. Dean learned to make change to a dollar and the others in the group learned to budget their allowance to pay back a loan.

Unit Plans - Integration of Subjects

Presented is a visual outline of this teacher's planning for the above described theme:

C. Cooperative Learning Lesson

We recognize that to use the principles of cooperative learning it requires teachers' time to understand the components of such a lesson. Most of us have not been cultivated in this method of education. Most of our experiences in learning situations have been built on a competitive model.

The following is an example of a cooperative learning lesson. Students in the lesson were from a combined grade one/two class. Included in the class were students' with behavioral difficulties, severe learning difficulties, and reading from pre-kindergarten to a grade four level. Adaptations to the lesson were not necessary because the groups were set up as heterogeneous groups ensuring that each group had a student who could read the material and record the student’s ideas. Assignment of roles were based on the student's strengths.

Subject Area: Social Studies and Language Arts
Group Size: 4 students
Assignment to Group: Heterogeneous
Room Arrangement: Students may work on the floor or in desks that are grouped in fours. Each group may decide.
Materials Needed: Picture of staff, pencil, eraser, writing paper, questions to guide writing.
Assignment Roles: Reader, recorder, material collector, checker

Knowledge Objectives:

Generalization: Each member in my school has special responsibilities.
Concepts: Responsibility - the task one carries out to help oneself and others in the school.
Related Facts and Concepts: People in the school and their responsibilities.
Generalization: People in my school cooperate with each other.
Concepts: Cooperation - working together to try and make everyone happy.
Related Facts and Concepts:

  • 1. Ways in which students affect the role of adults in the school.
  • 2. Ways in which other individuals in the school affect students.
  • 3. Examples of cooperation in a school.

Skill Objectives:
Process Skills:

  • 1. Draw conclusions about the roles and responsibilities of people in the school.
  • 2. Participate in cooperative (Student-Student) writing of sentences and story.
  • 3. Arrange facts in sequence.
  • 4. Stay on task.
  • 5. Participate cooperatively in group work.

Social Skills Objectives:

  • 1. No Put Downs.

Set the Lesson:

a) Academic Task: The children will be given a picture of a staff person and will be asked to answer a series of questions about that person. The questions are: 1. Who is this person? 2. What do they do in the school? 3. Where do they do their work? 4. How does this person help us in the school? 5. How do we help this person do their work? 6. How do we feel about this person?.

As a group they will write one report about the roles and responsibilities of this staff person. The students will be told that it is important that each person can read the story because one member will be called upon to read the story to the class on completion of the project. A class book will be made of the student's work.

b) Social Task: Present a concept-attainment lesson on put downs and put ups. The put downs will be the no examples and the put ups as yes examples. This is the second time that this concept has been presented to the children. The goal of the lesson is to further increase the student's understanding of what a put down is and how it affects others. This will be done first, then the academic task will be introduced.

c) Positive Interdependence: One product for each group.

d) Individual Accountability: One person from each group will be asked to report on the final product. Therefore it is necessary for each individual to be able to read what the group recorded as their ideas.

e) Criteria for success: Each group will have answered at least 3 of the questions provided.

f) Specific behaviors expected:

  • 1. Face to face position (remaining with the group the entire time).
  • 2. No Put Downs.
  • 3. Encouraging each other.
  • 4. Whole group putting up their hand if they need help.

Monitoring and Process:

a) Observer: Teacher and students.

As teacher I will use anecdotal observation to record the significant, specific events involving students working cooperatively together.

b) Process: Teacher and students.

As teacher I will give feedback on my observations to individual groups in front of the whole class.

Student checker will be asked to comment on how frequent and well the group used the assigned collaborative skill.

D. Modified Lesson Plans

The following are lessons that have been modified to accommodate a wide range of students in the regular classroom.


GRADE: Eight

UNIT: Consumer Product Testing

CONCEPT 1-1: "Consumer products each have a variety of characteristics which might be considered in evaluating the quality and effectiveness of the product." (Draft Curriculum, Science 8, 90/06/06).

TEXT: Science Directions 8, Arnold Publishing, 1991.

LESSON OBJECTIVE: The student will be able to find relevant information on a consumer product that will aid in a decision as to whether or not to purchase that product.

MODIFICATION: Dean will be able to locate and write information such as product price, size, and "best before" date on a form designed for that purpose.

MATERIALS: Worksheet with variety of local consumer products.

MODIFIED LESSON: The worksheet was sent home so that Dean and his mother might select items from around the home. The information listed in the lesson objective was then recorded by Dean with some assistance from his mother.

CLOSURE: When Dean returned to school with the form, we went over it together. I asked him to point out items such as price on the form to me. Dean was moderately successful.

The following is an example of curriculum modification that was developed in cooperation with a teacher consultant.



TOPIC: Needs

Regular Curriculum


  • 1. Keeping you physically fit.
  • 2. Help live with other people.
  • 3. Making you more fulfilled and happy.


  • 1. Levels of Government:

(i) Local

(ii) Provincial

(iii) Federal

  • 2. Differences between needs met by family and government.


  • 1. Where to go for information
  • 2. Reviewing a table of content.
  • 3. Group work rules.


  • 1. Division of students into groups.
  • 2. Research for specific group.
  • 3. Each group displays needs using magazine pictures etc. on an enlarged outline.
  • 4. Develop own symbols of what needs we look after ourselves.


  • 1. Class discussion on information obtained - review.
  • 2. Student writes a paragraph about basic needs.

The following reflects how the above Social Studies Unit was adapted to meet the learning need of a student with developmental disabilities in the regular classes.

Back to top

Adapted Curriculum


  • 1. Identify an actual item, picture of an item or recall an item from memory that keeps you fit. Add to the class list. May be choosing between two objects, two pictures, two words, or two ideas of things that keep you fit.
  • 2. Bring a favorite game to be played, or an object to be shared which gives pleasure.
  • 3. Generate a personal list of likes and dislikes.
  • 4. Choose between two play objects, demonstrate a preference.


  • 1. Concepts - Government - group of people:

- Family or not family

- Adults or children

- Male or female (gender)

  • 2. Identify people who help us (e.g., dentist, doctor).


  • 1. Identifies one place where they might go for information.
  • 2. Plan how information is to be gathered.

- cue cards

- taped response

- answers to specific questions

- pamphlets, books, magazines, video

  • 3. Review 'group work' rules


  • 1. Student joins group.
  • 2. Students' role; e.g. to count that everyone is present by number or by name.
  • 3. Identify where students will go for the information (build field trips to significant community services).
  • 4. May mail letters, which have been written by group.
  • 5. May be in 'family' group and then generate pictures of needs made by family.
  • 6. Student contributes pictures to group picture.


Depending on the concept decide upon :

  • 1. Supplies one need met by family (Prompt level decided).
  • 2. Supplies one need met by family.
  • 3. Using the 'group pictures', identify items in the picture.
  • 4. Take group picture to hang on the wall, or to show to others in the school.

The next section presents what Goals and Objectives of the students' IPP were addressed in the Social Studies Unit described in this section.


Depending on the concept decide upon :

  • 1. Supplies one need met by family (Prompt level decided).
  • 2. Supplies one need met by family.
  • 3. Using the 'group pictures', identify items in the picture.
  • 4. Take group picture to hang on the wall, or to show to others in the school.

The next section presents what Goals and Objectives of the students' IPP were addressed in the Social Studies Unit described in this section.

Goals and Objectives - Individuals IPP


  • 1. Making choices.
  • 2. Grasping an object.
  • 3. Releasing an object.
  • 4. Identifying objects used in personal care.
  • 5. Playing a game with a peer.


  • 1. Identify gender.
  • 2. Identify members of the family from pictures.
  • 3. Identify persons as belonging or not belonging to the family.
  • 4. Naming friends and peers.
  • 5. Fine motor skills - cutting, gluing.


  • 1. Counting to ten.
  • 2. Taking turns.
  • 3. Responding to a question.
  • 4. Operating a tape recorder.


  • 1. Counting to ten (number of people in the group e.g. 6, number of groups in the room e.g. 4 , number of own group e.g. 2) - match sample.
  • 2. Give out items (name tags with students photograph on them).
  • 3. Mail letter.
  • 4. Mobility skills outside school.
  • 5. Recognizing road signs and significant community signs.
  • 6. Using cue cards to ask questions.


  • 1. Expressive communication skills (e.g., signing, verbally, a taped message, cue cards, communication system).
  • 2. Fine motor skills.
  • 3. Word recognition.

Back to top

7. Resolving Student Conflict

A. Pro Social Skills

Most students, including those with special needs, need to develop social skills for verbal interactions. At one school, staff adapted the Skill streaming for Elementary Schools (Goldstien, et al., 1980) book to meet the school needs.

This program started when the staff decided to set "improving discipline" as their number one school goal for the year. They concluded that not only did they need a consistent method for dealing with inappropriate behavior, but that some students honestly did not know the correct steps in dealing with stressful social situations with peers and authority; therefore, they needed to be taught. The staff decided to take one skill every two weeks, teach it, practice it and monitor it daily in the classroom and on the playground. In addition, they put copies of the steps in the newsletter and encouraged parents to practice these skills at home. The discipline procedures then switched from detention and punishment to "extra practice" with role-play and reinforcement through the counselling and peer support program.

The staff and parents were pleased with the results. There was a common language used by every member of the staff and they dealt with problems in a similar manner. It also gave students with behaviour problems and special needs a vehicle for developing the communication skills they need to be successful in the school environment. But best of all it has given all students in the school a set for dealing with social problems at school, at home and in the community.

B. Resolving Conflict

Conflicts between students with behaviour problems and their peers can be a major source of problems in the school community. Schools should have a mechanism in place to resolve these conflicts. We have adapted strategies from many sources to meet the needs of our school.

Candice was on her way home from school one evening when Mitchell approached her and started teasing her. When she said something to him he became angry and kicked her and pushed her into the fence. The next morning we met at the Peace Table.

At this table the first step is to have the person who was injured tell the other person exactly what happened and how they felt while the other person listens. Then they switch roles. Step three is a controlled argument where they can interrupt the other and clarify their part of the story. In step four the mediator summarizes the facts and feelings. Step five is for making restitution and step six is setting the consequences if the treaty is broken.

In this case step five became the interesting part. When asked, Candace stated that she was not ready to accept apologies because she still did not feel safe. As mediator I decide that we would have to give Candace time to work this out so we decided to meet again on the coming Monday. In the meantime Mitchell would not be allowed to play on the playground during the morning recess and the noon recess and he would have to leave fifteen minutes after Candace. Mitchell was counselled to try to find a way to show Candace that she was indeed safe. The following Monday Candice stated she was ready to accept Mitchell's apology, therefore, we were able to complete the Treaty. The Treaty was signed and copies were sent home. During the three months since that encounter Mitchell has had other conflicts but none with Candace.

Back to top 


Last Updated: December 3, 2021     |     Site design by Camryn Boechler