I am so discouraged. I have students who are SO LOW. Like, kindergarten skills but 8th grade aged. I have no idea how to help them learn. I feel so unsupported. I have 45 minutes with them each day.

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Are you new to special education? This is pretty typical. What subjects are you teaching? You probably need to start by helping them get organized. Like, color coding. Have their work in a binder that doesn’t leave your classroom and color code different types of work. You’ll need to make materials yourself and use pictures as much as possible — but use pictures that are age appropriate. Give them a visual structure like a checklist for work. Do an interest survey so you can find out their personal interests and build off of their strengths


Can someone explain what you mean by color-coding their work? Do you mean color coding my subject? I avoid worksheets like the plague and do lots of hands-on centers and activities.

First thing I would do is help them to be organized. The second thing I would do is work on building their basic skills. If you can strengthen the basics the you can work on the more complex stuff. Third thing I would do is look at their evaluation/ re-evaluation reports and see where they fall and work on writing more appropriate goals. You might have to ruffle some feathers but it seems that if their goals are inappropriate then they aren’t going to make the growth that the administration wants to see.


I couldn’t agree more!

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Use multi sensory methods to help them learn and retain information. Research Orton Gillingham methods.


I find Orton Gillingham is great for the younger kids and Wilson better for the older kids.


Do they have IEPS ?




newsela varries lexile levels. I'm in highschool with 3rd and 4th grade reading levels. You will find that multiple resources on one topic come in handy. Don't forget to use your CST, that is what they are there for. Good luck!


Same problem. Special education MUST reevaluate their priorities. Right now it's paperwork and red tape. (I'm speaking of special education administration, not teachers). We have a overwhelming population of students with special needs and all we do is document, document, document-- Let's reach these kids! When we help these kids, documentation will be there.


we're lucky if we get the IEPs at a glance, and different case managers give us different things.

My students are like this as well. Does your school allow you to teach specifically towards their IEP goals? Also, what about life skills? My students are 11-13 years old and some are non-verbal almost all can’t read. It is way more beneficial and worth-while to teach life skills and/or just to the IEP goals!!


Is there a way to break their goals down? For example, if a goal is to know their times tables.. can you start with adding groups? And just work on like small goals until they master that. Also don’t forget about manipulativea!


If you can elicit the support of your head of the special ed department or a trusted teacher, that’ll help tons. Hang in there, fellow sped teacher...this job can be rough sometimes!


I too had a student last year who couldn’t read and was in 8th grade. I felt that he slipped through the cracks somehow and it was my job to fix it. I’m in my 31st year of teaching, so I have a full toolbox. I used the Wilson Reading Program. I am trained in it and bought my own materials. By the end of the year he was reading. There is another one in my school this year who is 3rd grade. I will probably take him under my wing and do the same thing. They are not on my class list, but I wrote the program in their IEP and I am the only one who can teach it, so that was my way around it. Find someone in your school who may be able to help you with that component. If not, take classes and become good at it. You will use the skills time and time again.


I am a Reading Specialist and was trained for a full year in Wilson. It is an offshoot of the Orton Gillingham program. Wilson is mostly phonics but it does have a small comprehension component. You have to be careful because this program is not meant for all special ed students. The student shouldn’t have too low of an IQ and needs to be able to recall the rules and then apply them while reading. It can also be boring. I take components of it such as going over syllable rules. I teach it in isolation for only about 10 minutes ( I have 7th and 8th grade remedial readers) and then have them apply what they’ve learned as they read during rest of lesson.

This won’t work with self contained or very low students. You really need to read and understand their IEP’s.


Focus on the fundamentals and do vocational tasks. Things that will help them in their daily life. Look into functional curriculum. Check out unique learning systems ( “news2you).


I think this is where I need to focus my energy. They don’t have life skills goals, but I think I should try to incorporate their academic goals into life skills somehow. They really need that.


You just have to support them and scaffold lots. Let them know they can do it and that you believe in them. As long as they improve, you all succeeded.


I can’t agree with you more. It is very disappointing that they keep getting moved along even though they are testing at a level 1 or 2 .


45 minutes total, or per subject? Are you using any kind of programs?

Do the levels correspond to grade levels? If so I’d probably only need 1-3!

How many students do you see at one time? How was it determined they were at Kindergarten level? What assessment was used?

The particular group I’m talking about is 3-5 middle school students depending on the day. Our school has school-wide intervention so it’s our fall benchmark assessments that indicate Kindergarten level skills (some are closer to 1st/2nd). We use Istation for this.

I completely understand. I have the exact same scenarios yearly and we don’t do resource in my county. Only full inclusion so I find work at their ability level, same topic, no matter how simple, and the gen ed teacher accepts it. They have no choice because the key to special education is making it equal not fair. It may not seem fair to the other kids but my job is to do what that specific child needs to have an equitable playing field to learn and grow.

I’ve got third graders who don’t know their letters. It’s ridiculous that they even got to third. We started reading intervention groups at their levels last year and it really helped. Are there some title staff that could do a small pullout for these kiddos? Teaching content but maybe at a much lower reading level for those kids?

Don't feel discouraged that your kids are performing at a different level than you want them to just like a plan as long as you keep giving them the proper nutrients and sunlight they will grow just give them time

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