Summer School Tips for Special Education Students

May 25, 2021

Summer students identified? Check.  Goals outlined? Check. 

A plan for students to catch up quickly without overlooking your special education population? Now we’re talking!

It’s important we don’t overlook the more nuanced support that exceptional students deserve. After all, these students would receive a different level of support during the normal school year, it shouldn’t change now.

Meeting IEP Goals

IEP goals are often written to improve areas of weakness, and the most direct way to ensure exceptional students are getting the help they need is to structure your lessons around them. If you’re using online instruction, choose math and reading activities that can be printed or completed offline. After a year of remote learning, students need a mix of meaningful computer time and hands-on tech-free learning this summer. Authentic student work samples that document a child's progress are available no matter how students complete these activities.

Structuring Lessons 

Let’s start with an example IEP reading goal:

By the end of the IEP period, when given a 3rd grade nonfiction passage, the student will identify the main idea and provide at least three details related to the main idea with a 90% accuracy in three out of four opportunities.

This is a pretty straightforward IEP goal that tests an important skill in reading comprehension; being able to recognize the main idea of a passage.

So how would a teacher using Classworks design a lesson around this particular skill?

Teachers can use the Summer Essential Standards guide to select an appropriate classroom reading passage. Then, the passages can be used to not only conduct close reads, but to assess proficiency within a skill. In this case, identifying a main idea. 

But, how can we use the tools available in this passage to meet the IEP goal listed above? 

These classroom reading passages have multiple choice questions and constructed responses to ensure that students are  building deep comprehension. 

Students can take notes, make annotations, or highlight as they read along. For example, you might have students summarize the main idea in their own words using the sticky-notes feature while using the highlighter to identify those three-to-four supporting details.

Let’s take a look at Math:

By the end of the IEP period, the student will solve word problems by adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators with 80% accuracy on 4 out of 5 trials.

Again, this goal is pretty straightforward, and Classworks provides you with the tools you need for students to achieve it. 

Similar to reading, you can use the Summer Essential Standards guide to select a math activity at the appropriate level and domain. These problems are already differentiated, and increase with complexity as students work through the lesson.

This goal is to solve word problems by adding and subtracting fractions. A Classroom math activity like this, not only provides a great hands-on problem solving opportunity for students, but allows you to easily record documentation of student progress towards this goal via the digital canvas.

The built-in digital canvas is where students will show their work as they move through higher order thinking processes.

Tracking Goals and Making Observations

Every solid summer school program has clearly defined, realistic goals for what they plan to achieve. No matter what goals your school or district decides to aim for, clear communication between students and teachers is the best way to ensure they are attainable.

Daily report cards with positive interventions and supports are a fantastic way to keep documentation and get students reintroduced to the classroom. For example, Classworks has a built-in observations tool visible to all teachers and students that promotes dialogue about students’ academic and behavioral progress. 

The observations tool offers real-time feedback that is immediately accessible to students, parents, and even other teachers. This is a great way to encourage positive behavior and strong communication regarding behavioral expectations.

Classworks also suggests a more hands-on approach to goal-setting for students. A good practice to help bring students into this process would be to set academic or personal goals each week of a planned summer school curriculum. The idea is for students to have ongoing collaboration with their teacher as they take steps to reach their goals each week. 

Our student Goal Tracker is a printable resource that guides students and teachers through the goal-setting process using the SMART framework. Each week, have students update their Goal Tracker sheets with their progress and new goals for the week.

Plenty of Opportunities for Hands-on Learning

Individualized learning should be paired with hands-on learning opportunities to provide a fully-realized summer school experience.

Jumping back into the classroom is going to take some getting used to, so to help guide teachers through more collaborative learning, we’ve provided station rotation guides for ELA and math. Both are based on essential standards and provide suggestions for weaving in enrichment projects each week.

Individualized Learning

As students work in rotations, their technology station time provides more documentation for skill-specific goals in their Individualized Learning Paths. Individualized learning is critical for addressing the foundational skills students need to master in order to move on to more complex concepts. This is especially true for students with disabilities who may have extremely varied learning needs across the population.

In Classworks, Students are automatically assigned skill specific units they are ready to learn based on their assessment data. This ensures students are working on exactly what they need in order to close gaps and be prepared for their next level of learning -- all while real-time data flows into the teacher dashboard. This data can help teachers determine which skills are being mastered and which might need more attention from the teacher and serve as important documentation as students progress through the semester.

Filtering by domain, for example, can not only make sure students are working on the most relevant instruction for them, but also to have the documentation you need to reflect a mastered or not mastered IEP goal.

All the resources Classworks provides for summer learning are designed to support all students, including those with disabilities. You’ve got lesson plans, a pacing guide, essential standards, and data-informed individualized learning to ensure students are all caught up before the new school year. 

Would you like help setting up your summer program or training your teachers? Chat with us! 

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