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Course Title
Empowering Students with Disabilities


Teaching students with disabilities is a rewarding challenge and this course gives you the tools you’ll need to succeed. No matter what grade you teach-from preschool through high school-you’ll learn powerful strategies you can put to work immediately in your classroom. In addition, you’ll gain the knowledge you need to understand and cope with the most common disabilities you’ll encounter.


  • Explore the most common disabilities you'll encounter in the classroom, find out what an IEP is, and learn how to create acceptance of students with special needs.
  • Examine the process for identifying children in need of special education, and see what an Individualized Education Program (IEP) is all about.
  • Get to know the special education professionals you can count on for support and great ideas.
  • Learn the basics about learning disabilities and pick up some great tricks for helping children with memory problems.
  • Discover what speech and language disorders are, and find out how you can assist kids with these problems
  • Meet the students identified as Other Health Impaired (OHI), and master some simple strategies for addressing ADHD in the classroom.
  • Learn about students with intellectual disabilities, and discover the joys and challenges of working with them.
  • Understand why some students exhibit severe behavior problems, and delve into the tools for dealing with disruptive or dangerous behavior in the classroom.
  • Identify the characteristics of students with autism, and learn how to help them by using social stories.
  • Get to know children who have orthopedic, visual, or hearing disabilities, learn about developmental delay and traumatic brain injury, and find out about assistive technology.
  • Explore ways to grade fairly, teach core skills effectively, and balance IEP goals with curriculum standards.
  • Identify ways to ease your students’ transitions to new classes, new schools, or adult life. 



Wednesday - Lesson 01

Danny has a seeing-eye dog. Carmela needs extra help with math. Yoshi has autism. And they're all in your class this year! In our first lesson, we'll look at the growing numbers of children with special needs, and talk about how you can welcome them to your classroom and set the stage for successful learning.

Friday - Lesson 02

How do kids get placed in special education? As you'll discover, it’s not a snap decision. Today, we'll trace a student’s path through every stage of the placement process and look at the role a teacher plays from start to finish. In addition, we'll analyze the parts of an Individualized Education Program (IEP). And finally, we'll talk about the modifications spelled out in an IEP and how they affect your assignments, classroom environment, or testing procedures.

Wednesday - Lesson 03

It takes a whole team to help a child with special needs succeed—and today you'll meet the members of that team. After a quick look at the power of collaboration, we'll explore the roles of the special education teacher and the paraprofessional. Next, you'll meet the specialists who can help you with everything from speech problems to assistive technology to adapted PE games. We'll finish up with a look at how guidance counselors, social workers, and school nurses can lend you a helping hand.

Friday - Lesson 04

In this lesson, we'll talk about reading, writing, and math disabilities—the most common learning disabilities (LDs) you'll see in the classroom. First, you'll get a chance to see how it feels to have an LD. After that, we'll talk about the memory problems of students with LDs and how they affect everything from reading a book to solving a word problem. And finally, we'll look at fun learning strategies that will make your lessons memorable for kids with LDs (and your other students as well!).

Wednesday - Lesson 05

Imagine how frustrating it would be if you couldn't speak clearly, understand other people, or express your thoughts and feelings well. That’s what life is like for children with speech or language disorders, a topic we'll investigate today. In addition to learning what it’s like to have these disorders, we’ll explore simple tricks that can beef up your students’ communication skills.

Friday - Lesson 06

They bounce off the walls, talk nonstop, stick erasers up their noses, and can't sit still for two minutes. They're kids with ADHD—one of the most common disabilities you'll see in your classroom—and today we'll talk about what their lives are like. After that, you'll learn ways to address the attention and organizational problems that can make schoolwork such a challenge for these children. We'll also look at the “Other Health Impaired” category, which includes ADHD, and see which children are eligible for an OHI label.

Wednesday - Lesson 07

Students can shine in many ways, and today we'll look at how students with intellectual disabilities can be stars in your classroom. First, we'll see what it’s like to be a student with Down syndrome or other intellectual disability. Next, we'll look at how you can help students with these disabilities by focusing on both academic and adaptive skills. And finally, we'll explore three great ideas for meshing math, reading, writing, and daily living skills in your lessons.

Friday - Lesson 08

They're your biggest challenge: kids who hit, kick, curse, yell, skip class, steal, cheat, and lie. Today we'll look at children with behavior disorders and examine the roots of problems like conduct disorder and oppositional defiant disorder. We'll also discuss three important tools for handling behavior problems: behavior contracts, functional behavioral assessments, and behavior intervention plans.

Wednesday - Lesson 09

Children with autism will give your teaching skills a workout with their unique combination of strengths and impairments. In this lesson, we'll explore three areas in which these kids need help: communication skills, social skills, and the ability to handle transitions. How can you address all of these needs? With a single powerful tool—social stories—that you'll master today.

Friday - Lesson 10

In this lesson, you'll meet kids with cerebral palsy, muscular dystrophy, hearing or vision impairments, developmental delays, and a host of other challenges. In addition, we'll take a closer look at the assistive technology—both high-tech and low-tech—that can help kids with these disabilities triumph academically.

Wednesday - Lesson 11

Today, we'll talk about “best practices” for teaching children with special needs. And here’s good news: Many of these ideas will work for your entire class! First, we'll explore how to balance students’ IEP requirements with your curriculum standards. Next, we’ll investigate a great technique for helping students grasp difficult material: directed instruction. And finally, we'll tackle that tough question: How can you grade students with disabilities fairly?

Friday - Lesson 12

Transitions can be scary for all of us, and that’s especially true for students with disabilities. In this lesson, we'll look at ways to smooth three big transitions our students make: from elementary to middle school, from middle school to high school, and from high school to real life. We'll also take an in-depth look at the transitional IEPs you'll create for your high school students with disabilities.

Method of Instruction



Class participation