Curriculum and Individual Education Plans

One area I always struggle with as a classroom teacher is the need to address the state or provincial curriculum expectations with the class and meet the needs of a child with special needs in the classroom on a day to day basis.

Sometimes, it is very difficult to assess a child's understanding of what she is learning. So, there are two basic rules: look at the behavior, and does the child's participation help with social relationships and is it functional.

Here is an example. One of my students with autism was non-verbal. During our art lesson, she usually participated with hand over hand help to complete the task. But, her wonderful EA designed a binder of step by step drawings of trees, house, girl, boy, dog, duck, cat, etc. We knew that M could read the words, or flip through the pages and choose different pieces to copy. By providing some prompts, "choose one" and modeling by drawing that picture, M could start to construct her drawing to include 2 or 3 images to make a picture.

By the end of the year, M was able to draw from National Geographic photos that we cut out.

When asked why we were doing this by the consultant, I thought hard. "Well, drawing is an activity she can do with her circle of friends. The other nine year old girls were drawing, and talking and working on their picture, so M can do that too. Socially, it gave her a way to be included. The other girls asked her questions and complimented her pictures. It was her own work, not the TA's hand over hand drawings, so I could meet the art curriculum expectations.

The consultant was pleased that both social and academic needs were met. We were pleased that something that we didn't know that M could do, had been broken down into smaller steps, so that she had a way in to drawing, and to doing something with her friends.

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