I've been asked about special education lesson planning and how I do it. 

But first, I have a few questions for you!  


  • How does your school or grade-level team lesson plan?  
  • Do you lesson plan together as a team, vertical plan based on content, or individually plan for your own class?  
  • Are you required to submit lesson plans to a “coach” or administrator?  
  • Is there a required lesson planning format that you follow?

My Answers

  • Our grade-level teams plan in the following way: each teacher tackles one content area: Math, Comprehension, Writing, Language, Vocabulary/Morning Message, and Phonics. This teacher writes the unit plans and assessments, weekly lessons, resources for class (flipcharts, activity pages, exit tickets), and homework. These lesson plans are shared out 2 weeks (10 days minimum) in advance on our “intranet” where we can upload files. Each teacher is also required to presubmit their lesson plan to a designated Teacher Development Leader (often an administrator) for review. This review is a big process at the beginning of the year with constructive feedback, and then often falls into a “check for completion” after the first quarter of the school year. 
  • We backwards plan the year, so the scope and sequence and unit plans/calendar are already shared out before the school year starts (we work during the summer!). This “big picture” is extremely helpful to the special educator (me!) and I access them often. Weekly grade-level team meetings often include discussions regarding timing adjustments to the completed plans due to field trips, snow days, and/or data review (i.e.: our students need more practice!).
  • The lesson planners also meet vertically with other grade levels planning the same content area. For example, the first grade teacher planning math will meet with the kindergarten and 2nd-4th grade math teachers to discuss key teaching points. 
  • As the special educator, I download the general education weekly lesson plans and then differentiate them for students on my caseload. I'd love to say I do it the same way every week/month/year, but as my students' needs change,  so does my planning!
  • This year, I've often “stuck to the script” for comprehension, phonics, and math, and then differentiated the presentation  (small groups, more guided practice, parallel teaching).  Next, I supplement and add in tons and TONS of spiral review based on data analysis (I collect data daily!). In previous years, my students have been in a completely different place than the general education population, so my lessons were following a  different (more “bare bones”) scope and sequence. It completely depends on my students' IEP goals and objectives and their areas of strength/growth. VERY interesting, especially because my first graders seem to grow and change WEEKLY!  This makes my job exhausting exciting! 🙂
  • I submit my lesson plans 10 days in advance to my team leader. This is the accountability piece our school has built in for every teacher. I find that my lesson plans can be cumbersome and I don't refer to them too often throughout the week. Still, they are a great resource when I'm prepping and/or a student is absent and we need to find a way to catch up the instruction. 

That was A LOT of information about lesson planning!

Here's what my weekly lesson plan overview looks like:

special education lesson planning
special education lessons

Sorry about those “fancy” font choices I made back in 2012 😉

I hope these lesson plan ideas are helpful to you. If you interested in learning more about special education lesson planning, check out these posts:

Hi there.

I'm Jennifer!

I’m Jennifer and I was a special educator in the elementary school setting over the past decade. I entered the classroom every day dedicated to making learning inclusive AND engaging.

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