Tuesday, August 6, 2013

IEP Tips and Resources for the Special Educator

Happy Tuesday! I am thrilled about the topic of my upcoming posts on the IEP. If you go into Special Education, you cannot be shy at completing paperwork. This is a necessary evil in the field. The perfectionist in me really loves the challenge of sitting down and writing an IEP. You have to ask, who is the child? What are his or her skills? What does he or she need to be successful this year, next year, and in life? This is not a one person job! This is why we call it a "Team process". However, if you are anything like me, you like to be prepared. You like to go into an IEP meeting having already formulated an outline for the goals and objectives. However, this does NOT mean that you did this all by yourself! This week I will be going over the process of writing the IEP as well as how to make it a true and valuable resource for Team members. Here are the plans for this weeks bloggie posts:

Notice teachers, tomorrow I will be focusing on general educators. I always hear moans and groans from general educators in the teachers room about the "extra" planning it takes to have children with special needs in the classroom. Now I know, thats not everyone. But this post will be specific steps a special educator can make to make a general educators year more manageable and fight off the stigma attached to the IEP. Don't forget to return tomorrow so you can see what I am talking about!

Okay, onto todays post. Writing an IEP is an extremely important process that takes a considerable amount of skill. Its a legally binding document, you need to make sure everything you write is relevant, practical, and backed by data. I found this book an excellent resource for myself as I write IEPs. It would be equally helpful for parents who are invested in learning about the process of writing an IEP and becoming active Team members. 

Planning an IEP for a child with severe special needs can be even more challenging. I always think about what will make the difference between living on their own or living in a residential home. This question takes a different shape for each child, but it is nice to think of that long term, best living situation. What is going to make his or her life just a little easier, more interesting, rewarding? Sometimes our goals take more than a year to accomplish, how can I break this apart into manageable pieces? The following book has some great ideas on creating a functional curriculum for children with special needs. It guides you into setting up a curriculum and when this plan is made, you have a goal in mind. In the appendix there  are pages and pages worth of scope and sequence lesson planning ideas for age/grade level. IEP goals are practically handed to you along with a perfect curriculum plan to accomplish the goal. It was recommended reading for a graduate course I took and I use it for practically every IEP I write.

You may or may not be a Massachusetts resident as I am. However, Massachusetts also has an excellent resource to help you write an IEP. It is based on the Massachusetts state standards, which is an adoption of CCSS. I don't know how much/little Massachusetts adjusted the frameworks to create state standards, however, I use this resource regularly to consider grade appropriate IEP goals. If your students are in any inclusion, having some curriculum in common is pretty important. This is the resource guide for teachers when creating the MCAS alternative portfolio. This is our state testing alternative for students with severe disabilities. It takes each curriculum standard and provides multiple simplified skills that are considered making progress towards the same standard. It is a big resource, but the charts provided for each standard are extremely helpful. All four subjects are included, however, only ELA and Math are CCSS (ELA is being released this fall, stay tuned). Check out these resource guides. 

These are my three go-to's for the beginning stages of planning an IEP. On Friday I will have a few more resources for you to specifically help you write an IEP goal. I will even model some of my favorite goals for my junior high life skills kiddos!

My Best,


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