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:

  1. A statement on how the disability impacts the student’s involvement and progress in the general education curriculum;

(Impact/need)

  1. Goals designed to address the need(s) of the student to help him/her to make progress in the general education curriculum;

(Goal(s) + SDI = progress)

  1. A statement about the special education and related services the student will receive as well as the program modifications or supports that will be provided for school personnel to help ensure the student will make progress in the general education curriculum (USDOE, 2017).

(Special education and related services + SDI and access = progress)

The Virginia Department of Education (VDOE) considers SDI a critical component in moving students with disabilities forward, and provides the following guidance from the federal regulations on the VDOE website:

“‘Specially designed instruction’ means adapting, as appropriate to the needs of an eligible child, the content, methodology, or delivery of instruction:
1. To address the unique needs of the child that result from the child’s disability; and
2. To ensure access of the child to the general curriculum, so that the child can meet the educational standards that apply to all children within the jurisdiction of the local educational agency.”  (34 CFR 300.39(b)(3);IDEA, 2004) (VDOE, 2017)

The link for “access to” and “progress in” the general education curriculum is “specially designed instruction” to meet the educational standards.

Tables 1 and 2 illustrate how SDI might be implemented within the general education classroom.   Resources for accessibility features for personal computer (PC) and MacIntosh (Mac) follow.

Table 1

Tier One and Specially Designed Instruction Within the Classroom – English  

Tier One instructional process within the English general education classroom for all students and potential SDI to be delivered within the same classroom.

Tier One Instructional Process in the English General Education Classroom (All Students)

SDI: Explicit instruction, supplementary aid or service, and testing accommodation (with links to free technology); in all cases, the IEP goal should be measurable, and SDI progress should be monitored.
During a word study session in first grade, the students sort a series of words with several word patterns taught together (closed syllable with short a, ar, and aCe words). (1.6f) For the student with an IEP goal around decoding (target 1.5f):

  1. The student is presented word analysis in a more explicit, systematic manner. The student’s word work (reading and spelling) is presented through syllable types, one type at a time, before combining in a review manner.
  2. The student will read decodable text after the word work to reinforce the learning of new word patterns.
  3. The student may access Microsoft Word documents and accessible websites by using accessibility features for text-to-speech. (Link provides accessibility features)
During a fourth-grade English class, the teacher asks students to respond to questions around reading in complete sentences. (4.5, 4.8) For the student with an IEP goal around writing complete sentences (target 4.8):

  1. A prompt guide/cue card may be provided around the components of a complete sentence.
  2. The student will receive deeper instruction around writing complete sentences moving from simple to compound/complex sentences through a Strategic Instruction Model™ Fundamentals of Sentence Writing (Schumaker & Sheldon, 1998) or some other more intense instructional method.
  3. The student may answer questions through use of a word processor with accessibility features for speech-to-text(Link provides accessibility features)
During a sixth-grade English class, the teacher uses a graphic organizer as a learning tool around the structure of the text with informational reading. (6.6) For a student with an IEP goal around organizing information at grade level (target functional goal): The use of the graphic organizer may be considered a supplementary aid, but the student may need further instruction in how to use the graphic organizer independently to meet the SDI need for his goal.
In an eighth-grade English class, the students are assigned a reading, Tigers of a Tiger, which is due the next day, so that the students may discuss the text structure of the chapter and the contribution of that chapter to the conflict of the novel. (8.5) For the student with an IEP goal around decoding (target 8.4):

  1. The student will be provided both an audio and a text version of the reading (see AIMVA for eligibility, and other audio resources: Bookshare, and Learning Ally)
  2. The student will receive reading instruction on the foundational skills of reading (decoding).
During a ninth-grade English class, the students have composed a persuasive essay and are editing their essays through self- and peer editing. They are to apply the rules of grammar and agreements between parts learned to this point. (9.7) For the student with an IEP goal around being able to apply the rules of grammar (target 9.7):

  1. The student is presented with more explicit instruction around the parts of a complete sentence, to include predicate nominative, predicate adjective, and coordinating conjunctions (FANBOYS – for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so).
  2. The student will include sentences with predicate nominatives, predicate adjectives, and coordinating conjunctions within the essay that s/he has written as part of the editing process.

 

Table 2

Tier One and Specially Designed Instruction Within the Classroom – Math

Tier One instructional process within the math general education classroom for all students and potential SDI to be implemented within the same classroom.

Tier One Instructional Process in the Math General Education Classroom (All Students)

SDI: Explicit instruction, supplementary aid or service, and testing accommodation (with links to free technology); in all cases, the IEP goal should be measurable and SDI progress should be monitored.
The students will work with a partner to count from 1 to 100 and write the corresponding numeral. (1.1) For the student who has an IEP goal around counting to 100 (target 1.1):

  1. The student will count from 1 to 50 using counting chips and write the numerals on paper in sequential order as each chip is added.
  2. Over the course of the semester, the student will increase the numbers that s/he can count and write the corresponding numeral up to 75.
The students are practicing inverse relationships, addition/subtraction, and multiplication/division, so that the concept may be used to solve multistep equations/problems. (3.2) For the student who has an IEP goal around understanding the concept of inverse relationships (target 3.2):

  1. The student will use manipulatives to create number sentences and then create the inverse with addition and subtraction.
  2. The student will create pictures of the number sentence creations and then write the accompanying algorithms, essentially using the concrete-representational-abstract approach. The student may create a representational model of the number through a web app, The Math Learning Center – Free Math Apps.
  3. After practicing this concept to automaticity with addition and subtraction, the student will repeat the process with multiplication/division. SDI may be provided through the use of the SIM™ Math Learning Strategy Series (Miller et al., 1998 to 2011).
The students are solving practical word problems using addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. (6.7) For the student who has an IEP goal around multiple-step problem solving (target 6.7):

  1. The student will use the SOLVE IT! Process, RPVHECC (Read, Paraphrase, Visualize, Hypothesize, Estimate, Compute, and Check), to solve word problems. The instruction provided will follow the process of the SOLVE IT! (Montague, 2010).
  2. The student will work on estimating (part of the RPVHECC process) by placing a dot on a number line for the addends and the sum (and corresponding  components of numbers related to the word problem for subtraction, multiplication, and division), and determining the closest whole number.
The students are asked to understand the relationships between all of the number types and to determine whether a given number is a member of particular subset of the real number system, and explain why. (8.2) For the student who has an IEP goal around solving practical  multistep problems but may have difficulty categorizing or organizing the various types of real numbers and their relationships (target 8.2 and an organizational issue):

A visual may be provided to guide the student’s completion of the assignment as described.

Rational Numbers

The students are asked to solve a problem with four terms (3x + 4) (5x -2). Further, the students are asked to explain their process and responses. (A.2) For the student who has an IEP goal around solving polynomials (target A.2):

The student will be provided a graphic organizer that identifies each step of the solution, and be instructed in its use, as prescribed by the IEP goal. Over time, the graphic organizer will be faded as responsibility for completion is gradually shifted to the student and away from the graphic organizer.

 

Follow link for additional information on the accessibility features with a PC or Mac.

For more information on SDI, please see additional articles from the Training and Technical Assistance Center at the College of William and Mary (T/TAC W&M):

References

Brennan, J. (2017). Understanding algebra. Retrieved  from http://jamesbrennan.org/algebra/numbers/real_number_system.htm

Individuals with Disabilities Education Improvement Act, 20 U.S.C. § 602 (2004). Retrieved from http://idea.ed.gov/dowload/stataute.html

Miller, S. P., Kaffar, B. J., & Mercer, C. D. (1998 to 2011). Strategic Instruction Model™  Math learning strategies series. Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Research for Learning.

Montague, M. (2010). SOLVE IT!:  A practical approach to teaching mathematical problem solving skills. Reston, VA:  Exceptional Innovations, Inc.

Schumaker, J. B., & Sheldon, J. B. (1998). Strategic Instruction Model™ Fundamentals of sentence writing strategy.  Lawrence, KS: University of Kansas, Center on Research for Learning.

United States Department of Education. (2017).  Building the legacy:  IDEA 2004. Retrieved from http://idea.ed.gov/explore/view/p/,root,regs,preamble2,prepart2,A,708,.html

Virginia Department of Education. (2017). Special education.  Retrieved from http://doe.virginia.gov/special_ed/index.shtml

Links to:  Virginia Department of Education. (2017). Standards of learning (SOL) & testing, for English and Math.   Retrieved from http://doe.virginia.gov/testing/index.shtml

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