examples of lesson plans in special education

Creating Special Education Lesson Plans: 5 Simple Examples

Are you looking for examples of lesson plans in special education? Creating lesson plans for special education students doesn’t have to be a daunting task. From visual aids and hands-on activities, to cooperative learning and problem-solving exercises, there are many ways to engage learners in unique lesson plans specifically tailored to their needs. 


Hi, I’m Rachel! I am a 2nd grade learning support (resource room) teacher. I help teachers like you create systems in their classroom to save stress and gain back more time for you! Grab my guide to 5 Steps to Simplify Progress Monitoring to start your journey to calm the caseload chaos. If you are looking for more help with lesson planning for special education, here are five examples of inspiring and effective lesson plans for special education students.


Examples of Lesson Plans in Special Education:

  • Cotaught Math Lessons
  • Math Intervention Lessons
  • Cotaught Reading Lessons
  • Comprehension Intervention Lessons
  • Writing Intervention Lessons


lesson plan in special education

Cotaught Math Lessons


A cotaught math lesson can help special education students learn the same material as their mainstream peers, while also modifying and simplifying the content. Teaching in this format allows for an increased focus on a student’s individual needs. 


I am lucky enough to have a fabulous coteacher who has helped me master the skill of coteaching and coplanning. When we sit down to plan out what and how we will be teaching, we look first at the math standards. Then, we look at the summative assessments that will be used and work our way backwards to figure out how best to teach the concepts.


First, we agree on what the typical majority should be expected to do. From there, my wonderful coteacher figures out how to expand on the content to challenge some of her highest students. On the other hand, I decide how to adapt the materials or the presentation to best meet my students’ needs.


Aspects of active learning such as experiments, games, role-playing, and simulations can be incorporated into lessons to encourage engagement and interaction. My students also are more successful when given manipulatives and visuals to support their learning. We are also very careful to preteach any prerequisite skills through our daily math warm up. Check out more about our daily warm up in this post


The format of your cotaught math lesson almost always follows this format:


  • Warm Up – Preteach new concepts, review previously taught skills, always end with a word problem
  • Small Groups – Follow “I do, We do, You do” model of teaching
  • Collaborative – Game or project to review taught skills


Math Intervention Lessons


One great strategy for teaching special education students is to provide math intervention lessons directly after their core math lesson. These lessons allow teachers to work with smaller groups of students and can be tailored to each student’s individual needs. Lesson plans should include frequent breaks and incorporate various manipulatives, such as pattern blocks or base ten blocks, to help the student gain a better understanding of the concept being taught.


Intervention time can be used for preteaching and reteaching math lessons. However, it should also be used for direct instruction in any math goal areas like computation, reasoning, or concepts and applications. For students with computation goals, flash card practice or web-based practice is completed each day. This year, our students are using rocket math for 10 minutes per day to practice their addition and subtraction facts. Students love moving through the levels and the exciting visual presentation. 


In addition, word problems are an excellent way to help students apply their learning by contextualizing the math skills they’ve learned in small group instruction. I incorporate word problems into each lesson and provide exposure to a variety of types so that students are able to constantly practice their skills in more authentic situations.


The format of my math intervention groups follows this pattern:

  • Basic fact practice (10 minutes)
  • Preteaching/reateaching (10 minutes)
  • Goal practice (10 minutes)


I often break my group into small sections and have some start on basic facts so that I can meet with small groups for preteaching and reteaching as well as goal practice.


Cotaught Reading Lessons


Teaching reading to special education students can be more successful if cotaught. Cotaught lessons involve both a special and general education teacher co-planning, co-developing materials, and delivering instruction in the classroom together. This approach allows teachers to meet the needs of all their students while also providing personalized instruction that best fits each student’s unique circumstances. For cotaught reading lessons, grade level texts or books can be used as models for discussion as well as comparison with other stories or situations. Through this type of setup, students can gain practice with vocabulary and help boost their understanding of reading comprehension.


My coteacher and I love working together for reading. During this time, my students get exposure to more complex text. Since they are not able to decode these texts, we read aloud materials to make them more accessible. One of the reasons I really like cotaught reading is that it gives my students an opportunity to practice comprehension skills that are trickier to practice with more decodable texts. When a student is working on CVC words, I find it very difficult to find texts complex enough to teach challenging skills such as informational text features and character’s perspectives. 


Here are the components of our cotaught reading lessons:

  • Vocabulary instruction
  • Reading complex text
  • Specific skill work with complex text
  • Written response


Here are some ways that we make these lessons more appropriate for my students:

  • Always read aloud text
  • Provide visuals and movements for vocabulary words
  • Closed procedures for written responses
  • Thoughtful pairing for group work 


Comprehension Intervention Lessons


Comprehensive intervention lessons include summarizing what was read, making connections to prior knowledge and experiences, making predictions about upcoming chapters, or writing a response to the reading. These lessons can be done with one student or a group of students if several are experiencing similar comprehension challenges. Comprehension interventions give special education teachers an opportunity to work with individual students and help them gain skills in understanding literature.


In my classroom, I have access to an intervention book that resembles the complex text we used during cotaught reading, but it is more decodable for our lower readers. The visuals all remain the same, but my students rarely notice that there are less words on each page. This resource is amazing because it allows them to have additional exposure to the text but also gives them confidence while trying to decode it because they have already worked with a similar text in cotaught reading. 


During comprehension intervention, we typically:

  • Review vocabulary
  • Reread selection
  • Reteach comprehension skills
  • Written response with heavy support


Writing Intervention Lessons


Writing interventions can be tailored to individual needs, keeping in mind what skills need help the most. If a student struggles with understanding content and vocabulary, try using pre-writing activities to brainstorm ideas and discuss key words. We choose to do our brainstorming day collaboratively in our cotaught classroom. For example, when writing opinion paragraphs about our favorite season, we put out anchor charts throughout the class and let students choose their favorite season. Then, students worked together to brainstorm all the reasons why that was their favorite. Students took pictures of their anchor charts on their iPads and used these pictures when we went back to my learning support classroom to start drafting.


To teach grammar and mechanics, focus on one skill at a time and use examples to explain it properly. If you keep writing journals, have students go back into their journals to add or revise based on the grammar skills you are working on. This is much more authentic than always using worksheets to practice. For example, after teaching all about adjectives, have students go back to their journals and find three places to add adjectives. 


Typically, I will teach grammar skills for a full week in between process pieces. We focus on one type of writing for an entire trimester. Students may be drafting, editing, revising and publishing for two weeks depending on their skills. This gives us plenty of time to build in lessons on skills like sensory details or creating text features. It also helps my students to have lots of time to go back and revise and expand on their writing rather than requiring a ton of stamina in one day and then never touching that piece again.


Examples of Lesson Plans in Special Education

Remember, this is what works best for me as a learning support teacher who coteaches. Not all of these strategies may not work for your caseload. Please do not think of this article like a prescription of what must be done but more of a menu of options! Do what works best for you and your students!


lesson planning for special education


lesson plan for special education

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Hi, I'm Rachel!

I am a second grade learning support teacher, adjunct professor and momma to two little girls! I help teachers like you get organized and create systems to save time.

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