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Planning the BEST Curriculum for Self-Contained Special Education Classrooms!

Summer is such a great time for teachers to recharge their batteries and turn their school brains off. Right?!? Well, we always go into June believing that but let’s get real it is SO hard to turn off our teacher brain. The main goal I try to accomplish every summer is how I can prepare the curriculum for the next year without having to take up so many of my nights and weekends during the school year.

curriculum for special education


I spent most of my teaching career in a self-contained special education classroom. My students were with me for more than 60% of the day. We would go into the general education for social opportunities like recess, lunch, specials, and fun events, but their core academics took place in my small group classroom. The biggest struggle in a self-contained classroom is a lack of curriculum. It can be so easy to just fly by the seat of your pants (which I did for many years!), but once I was also to organize what I was teaching I was able to better serve my students while aligning their curriculum to their grade level standards. I have ALWAYS been told the materials used in the classroom should be driven by the IEP goals and I 100% agree with that! BUT I need something to keep myself organized so I make sure I teach them new material and prepare them for their alternative assessments in the spring. 

Curriculum Maps

So what standards should we follow? Common core is often too difficult for students. I am lucky to live in a state, Ohio, that provides extended standards. If you want to look at them they are available online Here was my main point of reference when I made my curriculum map. 
Join my FREE resource library to access the K-2, and 3-5 Curriculum Map Freebie you can use to create your own map! This is completely editable! When can get access to the free resource library by joining my mailing list. A password will be sent in the welcome email! Join here! 
spet-november curriculum map example





Here is my 3-5 curriculum Map 





Programming is the most important step in planning your curriculum. You can make a beautiful grid as I did but if you do not have materials to back it up then you will not get very far. 

This is why I love Teachers Pay Teachers for Special Education. There is very little Curriculum out there for us, mainly because there is no one size fits all for our kids, but we need something. 

Here is some programming I use in my classroom that aligns with my curriculum map 

Math: I have been creating a math curriculum to meet my student’s needs.  K-2 is available here stay tuned for 3-5 is available individually

Reading: I use PCI reading in my classroom for sight words and reading fluency, but what about reading concepts. I created a reading curriculum that helps measure my student’s ability to learn reading skills such as the main idea, fantasy vs reality, fact and opinion, and much more! Check it out here and the 2nd edition here If you want a FREE week you can join my mailing list and a whole week will be sent to your e-mail!

Science and Social Studies: My district has purchased UNIQUE Learning. It is great for incorporating the science and social studies standards with differentiation! You can check out more 

this great blog post by my friend Kayla at My Special Learners and how she uses it in her classroom 

I also LOVE to use Made for me Literacy for my monthly themes which hit many science and social studies standards!  Check that out here

Social Skills: I love love love Autism Adventures Social Skills Curriculum. It is a great structured way to work thru many social skills that our students need to learn and/or need to review! Check it out here

Let me know in the comments how you plan out the curriculum for your classroom! 

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