The end of Pre-Planning: Going Loco?

26 Jul

We’ve been at it all week, and it was only today that we were really and truly able to get down to some serious business of planning actual programs and lessons for the students.  Why just today, you might ask?  First off, there has been an endless parade of meetings that needed to be attended for various and sundry departments, committees and functions.  This was a lot of it.  But it was also difficult focusing on the tasks until our backs were right up against it, and we knew that the reality of tomorrow was upon us.  We’re going to have the kids and we’re going to have them all day.  Ready or not, they are coming.


We had an Open House this evening, so I didn’t get home until late.  But like most teachers and students, the evening before opening day doesn’t bring a lot of rest and the thoughts come racing.  So I put those thoughts to good use.  Maybe.  I’ll let you be the judge.


My syllabus is very general and very weak, so I began revising it.  “Overhaul” would mildly describe what I just did.  One of the things the administration saddled me with was aligning what I do everyday with the general education curriculum.  That means math, science, ELA and social studies.  So I first overhauled my thinking and then set it up thus:




8:00 – 8:30 – Buses arrive and prepare for our day

8:30 – Announcements, moment of silence and pledge

8:35 – Breakfast

9:00 – Restroom & American Literature time

9:30 – Writing and communication time

10:00 – Position change for wheelchairs, Geography

10:30 – Community time, Algebra and geometry

11:00 – American History, World History & Economics (Community time continues)

11:30 – Earth science, Physical science and chemistry (community time continues)

12:15 – Lunch

1:00 – Restroom break,

1:30 – Recreation/leisure/art time

2:20 – Adaptive PE (Monday, Wednesday, Thursday)

2:30 – Restroom, changing, Biology (Tuesday, Friday)

3:00 – Snack time

3:15 – Dismissal


That was simple enough.  You’ll notice I’m hitting science twice because it’s my thing and I find it easier to plan and think about it.  Plus with adaptive PE, biology is still going to get a short shrift.  That 1:30 – 2:30 time slot is my planning period.  Pity the poor teacher who has them for that period of time…as well as the other students and teachers on that hall as my kids can get kind of loud!  I am assigned a new teacher to mentor.  He’s doing collaborative work but actually has experience with severe and profound students so he’s not exactly just off the street.  But since he’s in a spot where I might want to be down the line I’m as interested in learning from him as anything I might have to offer.  But being available is key.  And now for the curriculum:


Curriculum of subjects: General Scope and Sequence

(These can change at any time as other learning opportunities arise)


American Literature Topics

August: Poetry

September: Moby Dick

October: American Folktales and Legends

November: Mark Twain

December: More poetry, rhythm, rhyme and verse


Wish list: graphic literary novels, adapted books by American authors, computer adaptations of stories and poems


Writing and communication topics – Integrated across all curriculum areas

August – Personal information, classmates, class schedule

September – Special Olympic softball, Community activities, having a conversation

October – Community activities, Fall holidays, Special Olympic Roller skating

November – Thanksgiving, table manners, ordering food

December – Christmas vocabulary, feelings and emotions, humor


Wish list: Pictures of important (to the student) people and places such as home, family, favorite activities and foods, collections of jokes and riddles.



August – Personal geography: Up, down, over, under, between, inside, outside, closer, farther

September: School geography: cafeteria, media center, gym, office, hallways, doors, steps, track, auditorium

October – Natural landforms: Hills, valleys, rivers, oceans, forests, fields

November – Community geography: roads, streets, bridges, houses, stores

December – Finding it on a map: Atlanta, Covington, Georgia, United States, Atlantic Ocean


Wish list: Personal laminated U.S. and World Maps.


Algebra and Geometry

August – Rational, positive whole integers less than 10, Integers in the environment

September – mathematical patterns, inequalities

October – Geometrical representations and 3 dimensional polygons

November – Visual analysis in recognizing representations of equal value

December – Probability and cooperative problem solving


American History, World History & Economics

August – Supply and Demand, Opportunity cost

September – Scarcity, the U.S. monetary system

October – Mesoamericans, Christopher Columbus

November – European settlement and colonial culture

December – Contemporary world cultures


Earth science, Physical science and Applied chemistry

August – Minerals and geological samples, matter, mass

September – mass, gravity, friction

October – Newton’s 3 laws of motion

November – States of matter

December – Heat transfer: convection, conduction, radiation


Wish list: unusual rock and mineral samples



August – Animal, mineral or plant

September – Roots, stems and leaves, grass, trees

October – Animals and ecosystems

November – Anatomy and physiology: digestion

December – Anatomy and physiology: Sensory systems


Some of this might make sense.  Most of it might not, since we are talking about nonverbal kids with IQs in the severe and profound range.  Stay tuned as I work this business out.  It will be an adventure and I’m down with that since I’m going to end up doing something different one way or another.  I might as well get a jump on the wave of the future, whether I teach in a different setting or teach in a different way to the same kids.  This is one advantage with my population; most administrators, politicians, other teachers and community members are so clueless that I’m seen as a miracle worker regardless of what I do, for good or ill.  I know it is a bit sad, but I’m also offered the opportunity to try out some newer things with a minimum of trouble.  Once folks get a load of this, I’ll probably be laughed out or carried out in a straight jacket. Oh well.  At least I’ll go out with a bang!  The administration asked for a syllabus reflecting alignment with the regular curriculum and that’s exactly what they’re getting.  The wacky thing is, is that I actually plan on trying to teach from it.



7 Responses to “The end of Pre-Planning: Going Loco?”

  1. Portia Iversen at 4:52 am #

    I am impressed by your curriculum and your optimism and dedication. I recently started a community website for families and others who are involved with ASD individuals who are non-verbal or ‘low-communicating’ – I thought you might be interested. Just go to and join – it’s easy and it’s free. I wrote a book called Strange Son that came out in January about my own son who has ASD and didn’t communicate until age nine. I started a small home school about 3 years ago, we have only 3 students but we have done a lot to give them a real and meaningful education by adapting the interface of materials – and like you, we use a real, age-appropriate curriculum and they are doing fantastic! We use an assessment test called the BASI which is all multiple choice, to assess their academic progress at the end of each year. The three kids are all at grade level now and we are very proud of them! Two are non-verbal and one is verbal, they are all 15 years old. I wish you the very best, the work you do is so important and admirable. –Portia Iversen

  2. sheri mcmahon at 8:34 am #

    Don’t you think there is a problem with saying that because someone wears a diaper they should not learn the general curriculum? I am assuming your students have significant cognitive disabilities–nnot just physical and communication disabiities–so your criticism of alternate assessment should focus on that, not on physical characteristics that are not per se related to intellect. I have known some folks with “severe” physical and communication disabilities who got trapped in systems for people with mental retardation but who were not mentally retarded themselves.

    I don’t know about Georgia’s alternate assessment system–I am aware that this has become quite the albatross for NCLB and few states even have fully approved AA plans yet. (DOE has info for all states on their website). I know about another side of the coin–our local district, which has been funneling bright, capable students into alternate assessment in order to artifically raise their test scores. This is done in certain schools in the district that had very poor results for IEP students initially–caps for alternate assessment don’t apply to individual schools, only the whole district. I seem to be the only person in the state looking at the statistics involved.

    I know that the number of students with significant cognitive disabilities is very small and the original 1% cap on using alternate assessment should have been sufficient (politics has turned this into what is effectively a 3% cap; I am not impressed with the rationale given by DOE).

    Please be careful in your communications with legislators not to “teach” them that significant physical disability is equivalent to cognitive disability. These guys do not know very much about special ed to begin with.

  3. dick dalton at 12:09 pm #

    Thanks for stopping by, Portia! You have a very nice website that I recommend other readers should check out.

    I’m in agreement with you, Sheri that the 1% cap should be sufficient. Our school system is among those who have abused the system in order to hide the students who are otherwise bright (albeit slower) but they have failed to educate them. So the graduation test comes and they have no chance of passing because they have no academic background.

    And yes, I’m aware that there are many students with severe orthopedic impairments who are actually quite bright. I have had to get after the administration about their inappropriately being placed within my program more than once. But even with those kids, the standard assessments fit very poorly and require substantial adaptations.


  4. Debbie Bruster at 10:43 am #

    Need adapted books look at the Ga DOE website under Georgia Alternate Assessment. The message board is full of great ideas. Contact Toni Bowen at the DOE and she can set you up to log on to the message board.
    The GAA stands for Georgia’s Asinine Activity

  5. Dick at 4:02 pm #

    Thanks for the info, Debbie! The problem with the adapted books listed on the message board is that the ones for high school are few and far between and even fewer that are American authors which we need for the GAA. It’s truly a goldmine if you teach elementary students, tho. If you teach middle school students, you’ll also get quite a few (but not as many) ideas and topics. High school?…meh. There’s not a lot for us because the gap between where our kids are and the curriculum standards is as big as it gets.


  6. Christine Shelton, Gilbert, AZ at 10:43 pm #

    I am very interested in reading everyone’s entry regarding disabled learners! I currently have 2 masters of elementary education and to continue with my own learning until I am able to student teach next year, I am in the process of taking a couple of special education courses. This is information is keeping me seeking more ways I can help these students that are at a place in their schooling that it gets more difficult and sometimes unfair!?!
    Please provide me any information that you think will help me as I travel this education road I”m on now!
    Thank you very much,
    Christine Shelton


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