Writing the Present Levels Section of an IEP

If you follow me on Instagram, you know that I attend a LOT of IEP meetings as part of my role as a special education coordinator. I am one of those weird special educators that love IEPs. Anyone else?

Whether you like them or not, it's part of the job, and being able to put together a well-structured IEP and run a good meeting takes some practice. One of the most important and most often rejected parts of the IEP is the Present Levels section. You may call it a PLAAFP or a PLOP, or even a PLEP, but it all means the same thing.

writing the present levels PLAAFP section of the IEP

Making Literacy Instruction Meaningful

I believe that, as special educators, we are responsible for providing students with exposure to skills and content, more than just what is in their IEP. Of course, the IEP should be the main focus, and those goals need to be taught to mastery, but we still must provide every student access to a high-quality, content-rich curriculum. Too often, we get hung up on teaching skills in isolation until mastery, but until those skills are applied, they are meaningless and abstract. 

We are providing students the experiences they have when learning to read, and we can make it a positive, meaningful experience where students are successful. We can have a positive attitude and teach them that reading can be more than three-letter words and choppy sentences. We can assume competence and know that our students can learn new skills, outside of the traditional "functional" skills, that are still applicable in their lives. We have every opportunity in the world to give our students with significant disabilities more. After all, what is more functional than being literate?

Here are a few of my favorite ways to make literacy instruction more meaningful. 

Apple Classroom Theme for a New School Year

Looking for a classroom theme that's perfect for a new school year? Apple classroom decor is so fun! Here's a few of my favorites!

apple classroom theme

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Having Hard Conversations as an IEP Team Member

Alright, teachers, it's only a matter of time before you have a parent or a teacher or a paraprofessional that disagrees with you to some extent on an IEP decision. Maybe they want a service that the student doesn't qualify for, maybe they want a change to the IEP that the team disagrees with, or maybe they want the student in another placement. Whatever it is, having hard conversations is part of our job as members of the IEP team. If your anxiety is in overdrive due to an upcoming difficult conversation, here are some tips to get through it.

Having hard conversations as an IEP team member

Analyzing & Using Data in Special Education

Hi teachers! Let's chat about data! We all know that we have to collect data, but the most important thing is that we are using data to guide our instruction. 

So what does using the data mean? It's more than just looking at it. I know this seems obvious, but when I go into classrooms with teachers, I see students working on the same skill in the same format with minimal progress. Sometimes, because we know how important repetition is, we think that if we keep repeating the same thing, eventually it will stick! But that's not the reality for students, and honestly, it makes them less motivated to learn because they get bored. Repetition is important, but our instructional toolbox needs to include more than that. But that's a post for another day. 

When providing instruction, we need to be using the data we collect to make instructional changes. Here are some decisions you may make when analyzing data.

Teaching Science Standards in Special Education

Just under half of the states in the US use the DLM Essential Elements for their students with cognitive disabilities. These standards are aligned to the general education standards but they pull the most essential skills and concepts and break them down into smaller chunks for students with severe disabilities. Even if you don't use the Essential Elements in your state, they are a great resource if you are trying to figure out how to break down a skill.

Wouldn't it be nice if there was a curriculum out there that helped you teach the science standards at a variety of levels for your special education students? Teaching to a set of standards is a whole new playing field compared to teaching IEP goals or a pre-determined curriculum. I wish I was here to tell you that I have one for you, but I have yet to find something yet. So let's talk about how we can teach the science standards effectively in our classroom.

Pastel Rainbow Classroom Theme: Inspiration & Decor

You can't go wrong with a rainbow color scheme, but if you're not into the bright, primary colors, consider going with a pastel rainbow theme. Check out these pastel rainbow accents and decor items. These are all available on Amazon and go perfectly with the Pastel Geode Classroom Decor line in my TpT store. Check out my favorites! 

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