Implementing Specially Designed Instruction in the General Education Classroom

Authors:  Shelley Littleton, M.Ed., and Mary Murray Stowe, M.Ed.

Specially designed instruction (SDI) must be delivered to address the unique needs of students with Individual Education Programs (IEPs) (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act [IDEA], 2004).  SDI may be delivered within the general education classroom.  Removal to a separate classroom is NOT necessary to provide this type of instruction and may in fact impede access to the general education curriculum.

Access to the general education curriculum is one of the most compelling rationales driving construction of appropriate IEPs besides being a legal requirement of IDEA, 2004.  The following three IEP requirements are designed to move student involvement and progress in the general education curriculum forward:

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Maximizing Instructional Time through Structured Conversations

Every school year teachers ask themselves, “How can I create a class where students collaborate with one another as well as with me?” The answer to this question is cooperative learning. [Read more…]

Laying the Foundation for Standards-based Data-driven Specially Designed Instruction

Specially designed instruction (SDI) provides students with disabilities (SWD) the opportunity to make progress in the general education curriculum (IDEA, 2004). A student’s Individualized Educational Program (IEP) is supposed to provide the roadmap for special and general educators. Unfortunately, it is not unusual for special educators to become overwhelmed with the simultaneous demands of IEP development, scheduling IEP meetings, and standardized testing in the spring. [Read more…]

Specially Designed Instruction: Realizing the Potential of Co-Teaching

The principle of least restrictive environment (LRE) requires schools to provide instruction in the general education classroom for students with disabilities unless the “nature and severity” of the student’s disability prevents it (Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act [IDEA], 2004). Additionally, the IDEA mandates access to the general education curriculum with instruction from qualified teachers. To meet the LRE and access requirements, many schools choose co-teaching as a service delivery model. Access to a co-taught classroom alone, however, does not satisfy the legal requirements. Access must also result in improved academic outcomes for students with disabilities.

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Supporting the Success of Students With Disabilities in the General Education Curriculum

The Individuals With Disabilities Education Act (2004) requires that students with disabilities have access to the general education curriculum.  To accomplish this, Individualized Education Program (IEP) teams identify student needs as well as supports and services to address those needs.  Once that is in place, students with disabilities must be provided specially designed instruction within the context of the general education curriculum as specified in the IEP.

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Strategic and Specially Designed Instruction: Leveraging Data Sources to Ensure General Curriculum Access

Students with disabilities are faced with a variety of challenges as they encounter the general education curriculum. To ensure that students have meaningful access to and make progress in the general education curriculum, the special education teacher must strategically design supports and instruction. Developing an individualized educational program (IEP) requires a thoughtful review of all of the available data sources before drafting the IEP. [Read more…]

Giving Students the Tools to Grow: Lifelong Learners and Productive Members of a Global Society

How would educators reply if asked why they originally entered and remain in their professional positions? Most likely, their answer would be that they care deeply about the success, happiness, and safety of their students in school and in life. A word cloud, like the one pictured below, prominently displays those words in a group that occur with the highest frequency. This word cloud was created by pasting mission statements of school divisions from across the Commonwealth of Virginia into a word cloud creator. As one might expect, the word “students” appears as the most important focus in schools.

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Specially Designed Instruction: The Importance of Specific Strategy Instruction

Students with disabilities and other struggling learners often experience intense anxiety and frustration when asked to perform new tasks or master new content. Such frustration results from uncertainty about their learning process. Students who don’t have a systematic method for approaching learning tasks tend to struggle when required to acquire new knowledge or apply prior learning to new tasks. This ongoing struggle leads to cumulative skill gaps and can result in a pattern of learned helplessness (Reid, Hagaman & Lienemann, 2013, p. 9). [Read more…]