The Law


In 1975, the Special Education Act was created (PL 94-142).  It assured a free public education in the Least Restrictive Environment (LRE) to every student.


This included students with:

v    Severe disabilities

v    Mild to Moderate mental handicaps

v    Students having middle to moderate learning disabilities and behavior problems


Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), 1997

Public Law 105-17 (replaced PL 94-142)


Every District must have:

·        A Child Find, which is a continuous process of public awareness activities, screening, and evaluation designed to locate, identify, and refer, as early as possible, all young children with disabilities and their families who are in need of early intervention, as mandated through the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

·        Assessments by a qualified team from the Local Education Agency (LEA). Note: These assessments must be completed in 30 days and must be non discriminatory

ªThe LEA determines whether the student qualifies for special education and determines student’s needs ª


·        IEP (Individual Education Program) Team

v    Team that develops an individual education program for the student

v    Comprised of: Parents, teachers, special education teachers, administrator, specialists, and student when appropriate



Council for Exceptional Children:

Individuals with Disabilities Education Act:

A 25-year history of the IDEA:

Factors for considering an IEP:

Child Find Projects:

How to Write an IEP:



Emotional and Behavioral Disorder (EBD)


Definition: A long-term behavior or condition that affects the child’s education.



v    Characterized by behavioral responses in school programs different from children their own age.

v    Inability to learn that cannot be explained by health problems

v    Child cannot maintain relationships

v    Inappropriate behavior

v    General depression or unhappiness

v    The child may develop fears or physical symptoms due to school or personal problems such as physical or verbal aggression, opposition and noncompliance (these are external), or anxiety and depression (which are internal).


These students require:

v    Help or instruction on social and/or personal management

v    Help on managing behavior


Inclusion strategies (Some may work, some may not):

v    Social skill instruction that helps the child build relationships, manage transitions, and respond appropriately.

v    Creating a peer support system to help child              

v    Working with another colleague (collaborative teaching)

v    Manage behavior by designing a plan, find motivators, and a reward.

v    Instruct at their level

v    Watch to see how they respond to special instruction



Web Sites:

Council for Children with Behavioral Problems:

The American Psychiatric Association:

Emotional and Behavioral Disorders:

What is an Emotional or Behavioral Disorder:

Emotional and Behavioral Disorder:

Preferred Strategies for Children who are Regarded as Having Emotional and Behavioural Difficulties (EBD):





Definition: A physical disorder of the brain that causes life long developmental disability.



v    Echolalia (parrot like repeating of what was said)

v    A monotonous tone lacking pitch and intonation

v    Lack of social imitative play

v    Variation in language use       

v    A discrepancy between receptive and expressive language with no concept of abstractions such as danger

v    Little or no eye contact with others

v    Fail to interact and develop appropriate peer relationships

v    Prefer isolation

v    Exhibit stereotypes and repetitive patterns of behavior such as hand flapping, hand regarding, eye gazing, body rocking, grimacing, tapping, and vocalizations

v    Become focused on one pattern of behavior or routine, exhibiting a need for sameness

v    Have an abnormal interaction with toys that may include an extreme focus on parts of objects

v    Olfactory and taste sensitivities may be an issue

v    Abnormal visual stimulation may include such behaviors as the lining up of toys or figures, obsessing over patterning configurations, letters and numbers, and eye gazing in various lights


Teaching Strategies:

v    Routines (Top to Bottom, Left to Right, Start to Finish, First and Then)

v    Physical Structure (Physical Boundaries, Visual Boundaries, Minimum Visual and Auditory Boundaries, Teaching Areas)

v    Daily Schedules (Object/object sequence, Picture/photograph cards, Pictured written lists, Written lists/cards)

v    Work Systems (Left to Right, Matching, Written systems)

v    Visual Structure (Visual Instruction, Visual Organization, Visual Clarity)


Web Sites:


Deaf and Hearing Impaired


Definition:  Deaf is a condition in which so little information is received through the sense of hearing that other senses must be used for learning. Hearing impaired is characterized by a condition in which hearing, although impaired, can be used as one of the senses of learning.


Behavior and Characteristics:

v    Easily distracted

v    More aware of movement or action than sound

v    Turns head to one side in effort to hear

v    Confuse words with similar sounds

v    Difficulty following verbal directions

v    Mumbles without awareness

v    Speaks quietly

v    Difficulty with articulation

v    Monotone voice pitch


Inclusion Strategies: Ways to Communicate:

v    Teletypewriter (TTY) is an older term used for a telephone.

v    Telecommunication Relay Service (TRS) is a system that allows hearing people, without TTY, to communicate by telephone with deaf people.

v    Personal Delivery: Lip reading         

v    Sign Language uses a manual means of communication rather than speech.

v    Interpreter


Teaching Strategies:

v    Keep background noise to a minimum      

v    Do not turn back while speaking

v    Use over-head projector

v    Provide notes of lectures

v    Use visual teaching strategies

v    Provide assignments orally and in writing

v    During class discussion allow only one student to speak


Web Sites:




Learning Disability, Mental Handicap, and Attention Deficit Disorder







Disability (LD)

A neurological disorder that affects the brain's ability to receive, process, store and respond to information. 

There is a significant discrepancy and distinct gap between the level of achievement that is expected and what the student is actually achieving in listening, speaking, reading, math, writing, or mathematics.

Use peer support systems, modeling, prompting, monitoring, reinforcement, tutoring, and instruction at their level. Brake learning into small steps; administered probes; supply regular quality feedback; use diagrams, graphics and pictures to augment what they were saying in words; provide ample independent, well-designed, intensive practice; model instructional practices that you want students to follow; provide prompts of strategies to use; and engage students in process -type questions like “How is that strategy working? Where else might you apply it?”

Mental Handicap

Mental retardation is a disability characterized by significant limitations both in intellectual functioning and in adaptive behavior as expressed in conceptual, social, and practical adaptive skills, which affects school learning, language, and social development.

Rate of learning is considerably slow and most areas of development are delayed which causes the students not to meet age expectations in language, math, and social skills. There is restricted cognitive development, limited language ability, they often start to talk late and children have difficulties learning the meaning of words and grammatical rules.

Develop a circle of friends, revise curriculum to fit their needs, peer support systems, reinforcement, tutoring, and include the student in class activities. Young people have to rely on opportunities for learning by doing This has an effect on what they learn, how they go about their tasks, how quickly and how long it takes them to learn, their ability to think in abstract terms, and on their spontaneity and range of interests. Curriculum for students with mental retardation should be designed to prepare students to function as independently as possible in an integrated society.

Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD/ADHD)

Inattention that is consistently displayed and is persistent for more than 6 months to the degree that it is inconsistent with development level. If not diagnosed by a doctor, ADD/ADHD is considered an EBD.

People who are inattentive have a hard time keeping their minds on any one thing and may get bored with a task after only a few minutes. They may give effortless, automatic attention to activities and things they enjoy however, completing a task or learning something new is difficult. They are hyperactive, excessively talk, blurt out answers, and have difficulty waiting. They can be impulsive, run instead of walk, are restless, constantly fidget, and are forgetful.

Have a structured learning environment, decrease the amount of distractions, avoid sudden transitions, have a peer support group, help keep student organized, have activities that require movement or active participation. Add in self-monitoring and behavior management techniques. Reinforce good behavior, give only one or two directions at a time, establish reward systems, set a routine, praise, allow longer wait time, and communicate with parents.


Web Sites:


Mental Handicap

Learning Disability




Social Skills


Students with special needs will be more successful in the general classroom if they are taught social skills. Children with special needs will benefit from the social skills learned by the regular students.


Ways to teach social skills:


Immersion- Surround the student with social skills and teach them hands on so they understand.  Reward them on their progress by taking them to dinner/lunch, or introduce them to people (example:  the teacher in NY who taught the students skills and then buying them suits and taking them to dinner).


Direct Teaching- Teach the subject, rehearse and practice it over and over.  Generalize the social skill by putting them in a different setting and see if the can still perform the skill.


Enculturation- Seize the opportunity to practice the social skills as the problem arises (direct teach in the classroom when the opportunity arises).



Resources/ Instructional Materials:

v    Skill streaming the Elementary School Child: New Strategies and Perspectives for Teaching Prosocial Skills, by McGinnis and Goldstein (1997).

v    Getting Along With Others: Teaching Social Effectiveness to Children, by Jackson and Monroe (1983).

v    Social Skills in the Classroom, by Stephens (1978).



Teaching Social Skills:

Teaching Social Skills:

Positive Reinforcement:

Developing social competence:

Teaching social skills:



Instructional Strategies


Teaching instructions have to vary for each child.  One thing may work with one child but not the other. There are three levels of learning:

·        Frustration Level- the student gives up, they think its too hard, find excuses.

·        Instructional level- the teacher can help them and instruct them.

·        Independent level- the student can do it himself or herself.


Use Organizers to Introduce and Conclude Lessons

·        Use blackboard or overhead projector to state objectives of lesson or activity.

·        Use visual aids to guide students through the lesson.

·        Summarize main points at the end of the lesson.


Use Prompts

·        Make transitions clear and let students know what is coming next.

·        Teach transition vocabulary.


Graphic Organizers

Use graphic organizers to chart student comprehension.

·        Time lines

·        Diagrams

·        Flowcharts

·        Pyramid designs

·        Cartoons

·        Pictures

·        Advance organizers

·        Herringbone charts

·        Webs

·        Chapter maps


Concept Maps

·        Alternative to note taking or outlining.

·        Students think about content and organize it in a meaningful way to them.

·        Improves students' ability to categorize, organize and integrate new information.

·        Time on task improves student retention of material.

·        Gives the teacher a chance to see and discuss students' thought process as shown through drawing and linking of map.

·        Demonstrates new areas of learning or misunderstanding of new material.


Teach listening skills

·        See, Say and Repeat: Include visual support along with your verbal directions and then have a student explain the directions in his own words.

·        The Last Word: During an oral direction, stop near the end of the directions and have the students predict the last word or phrase.

·        Misfits: Read a short passage to students. In each selection, include 1-2 humorous, almost logical, and/or socially inept elements that are inappropriate. Have students identify and explain the misfits. This activity can be used to provide enjoyable listening experiences, build context skills and shape social skills.

·        Listen and Sum: Routinely have students briefly retell in their own words what you read aloud or say. This strategy increases attention, reinforces content, builds important summarizing skills, and provides a second chance for students to hear and to check their understanding.

·        5 R's: Check that I Really understand. Relate the information to something I already know. Replay what I understand. Reorganize the known and identify the gaps.

·        Encourage student to summarize and Repeat in own words.

·        Use checklist to help student self-regulate attention and behavior.


Memory Building

·                    Teach students how to organize and associate information.

·                    Use concrete examples, pictures and imagery to make a point.

·                    Increase meaningfulness, i.e., if teaching about the scientific process do an experiment using the scientific process.

·                    Have student repeat information after hearing it or reading it.

·                    Teach students to visualize concept in order to better understand and memorize.

·                    Break down information into smaller parts.



·        Use mnemonic devices to remember information.

·        Have students create their own mnemonic strategies to improve student study skills (for example, HOMES Great Lakes = Lake Huron, Lake Ontario, Lake Michigan, Lake Erie and Lake Superior; ROY G BIV = Colors of the rainbow Red, Orange, Yellow, Green, Blue, Indigo and Violet).


Study Guides

·        Lists major concepts to be covered with space for student to add notes

·        Improves organization

·        Improves memory

·        Improves note taking skills

·        Improves study skills


Improving Study Skills

·        Discuss study skills strategies as you are teaching.

·        Discuss self-monitoring strategies.

·        Teach students to stop and summarize information into their own words.

·        Use a written checklist for student to review study skills.

·        The 5 R's:

v    Check that I Really understand.

v    Relate the information to something I already know.

v    Replay what I understand so far to see if that helps.

v    Reorganize the known and identify the gaps.

v    Consult a Resource or ask for help.


Develop Note-taking Skills

·                    Give student a note-taking format to follow.

·                    Use prompts to let students know what is important.

·                    Teach how to abbreviate and to write quickly and legibly.

·                    Emphasize how important it is to review notes and fill in any information that is missing after class.

·                    Correct spelling after class.

·                    Use a tape recorder.

·                    Share notes with a peer tutor.

·                    Teach "The 3 and 5 R's" Strategies:

·        The 3 R's:

v    Review previous lecture notes and materials before class.

v    Read materials for class before class.

v    Relate the lecture topics to other known information.

·        The 5 R's:

v    Record important facts and details.

v    Reduce notes to short phrases.

v    Recite the important information in your own words.

v    Reflect on the notes and add any other important information.

v    Review all notes and information.

·        The LINKS strategy:

Step One: Listen for key cues from the teacher.

v    Listen

v    Identify cues

v    Note

v    Key words

v    Stack information into outline form

Step Two

v    Write words, not complete sentences.

v    Abbreviate words.

v    Do not use any punctuation.

v    Draw a line through an error rather than erase.

v    Allow extra space to add more information.

v    Use synonyms.


For Reading

·        Phonics: Teach the common phonics generalizations and principles.

·        Know what you are assessing when you assess a student.

·        Test them so you know they comprehend it (standardize tests, etc)

·        Know their level of reading skill and challenge them appropriately.

Reading Strategies for Textbooks

·        Describe how textbooks are organized and how to find specific information.

·        Use a graphic organizer and checklist to help student with this process.



·        Use materials of different reading levels.

·        Modify length, time, or difficulty of assignment and assessment.

·        Give the student a chance to redo assignments.

·        Give the student the opportunity to choose test format. (i.e. written or oral).

·        Break down concepts and important points that lead to the "big idea".

·        What are the essential concepts students need to know? What are the basic steps to get there?

·        Place practice work in student review area of the classroom.

·        Use educational software for student review.



·        Homework should be a review of the day's work.

·        Have examples for student to follow.

·        Modify for length, time or difficulty.



·        Use multiple strategies to teach spelling.

·        See Spelling Styles Chart.

·        Play spelling games.

·        Use mnemonic strategies to teach spelling:

·        Look, Say and See: look at the word, say it, and see it in your mind. Copy the word, look, say and see, write the word without looking; Check, look, say and see;


Vocabulary Building

·        Learning Centers for Student Review

·        Provide an area to promote independent student learning.



Activity-Based Instruction


·        Meets the learning style of the student

·        More hands-on

·        More active participation

·        Emphasizes cognitive thinking skills


Cooperative Learning

·        Jigsaw Model: each member of the group learns a portion of the material and then teaches it to the rest of the group.

·        Full Option Science System (FOSS) model for mixed ability groups. Cooperative learning activity involves 4 students working together and taking turns with the following roles.

v    Reader: this student reads all print directions.

v    Recorder: this student records data, observations, predictions and estimations.

v    Getter: this student assembles all of the necessary materials.

v    Starter: this student oversees manipulations or the materials and ensures that all members have equal opportunity at using the hands-on materials.


·        Students prefer working on a project for longer periods of time rather than stopping and starting several short lessons.

·        Connects student to real world situations.

·        Student able to generalize knowledge.

·        Increases time on task.

·        Increases creativity on the part of the teacher and the students.

·        Increases teacher enthusiasm.

·        Use video presentations to meet objectives of the unit.

·        Assessments can reflect student work rather than the textbook's paper and pencil tests.


Classwide Peer Tutoring (CWPT)

·        Practical and easy to use.

·        Students learn more by doing/teaching.

·        Students prefer working with other students.

·        Increases time on task.

·        Allows teacher to observe and help all students, not just focusing on 1 or 2 students in need.

·        Promotes social and academic skills.

·        Improves performance on standardized tests.

·        Allows students to respond and receive immediate feedback regarding their performance.

·        Increases student learning opportunities.



Web Sites:



Alternative Assessment Techniques


Curriculum Based Assessment

·        Create assessment before, during and after unit in order to monitor individual student progress, thinking skills and comprehension.

·        Provide learners with more than one way to be assessed: written, performance based, verbal or through drawings.

·        Assess student progress during unit in order to make modifications if necessary.

·        Weekly graph shows student progress.


Authentic Assessment

·        Student produces project to show mastery of concept.

·        Does not emphasize paper and pencil skills in which student may be deficient.

·        Fits student learning style.

·        A change of pace from the regular written tests.



·        Promotes student involvement.

·        Shows student work and progress.

·        Closely matches objectives of the class.

·        Hands-on activities and performances included.

·        An alternative to written tests.

·        Gives student a chance to reflect on his work


Performance-Based Assessment

·        Teachers interact with students as they work and assess students' completed assignment.

·        Shows what students can do, not just what they know.

·        Shows student's thought process.

·        Emphasizes problem solving or completing complex tasks.



·        Establishes guidelines.

·        Sets standard for grading.

·        Increases objectivity.



Test Taking Skills

·        Blurt-Immediately blurt or outline the essential information you might forget

·        Imagine-Imagine yourself acing the test and know that you can

·        Answer-Answer easy questions first and then go back to harder ones

·        Look-Look for key terms that signal answers or expectations

·        Certain-Make certain you have answered all questions.



·        Let students know that you are aware of what is happening in your classroom.

·        Have a few rules and be consistent in enforcing them.

·        The rules are fair and clear to students and teachers and administration.

·        Be consistent and let students know the consequences for not following them.

·        Praise appropriate behavior.

·        Identify behavior that needs to be improved.

·        Identify new behaviors to be developed, provide opportunities to practice them.

·        Use teaching strategies that promote positive academic and social behavior success.

·        Have fun and use humor in your classroom, it promotes a positive learning environment.

·        Work with administration and specialty staff on individual plans for students in need.






Helpful Websites