Working with students with special needs we need to make sure we give every opportunity to learn that we can. This means we need to embed learning and instruction into daily routines and activities. We need to make conscious decisions that we are going to address a certain skill during a certain time period. In order to do this we need to go through a few simple steps.
1. Determine what IEP goals or skills you are addressing for an individual student.
For example ,right now one of my student's (A) goals is to identify numbers 1 -3. Another student, (B) is working greeting adults and peers appropriately.
2. Determine what routines/activities these goals can be embedded into.
This is where the planning part comes in. Depending on the type of classroom you have, this can be done in various ways. If you have a self-contained room where all your kids are on the same schedule, you can develop a matrix of your schedule. There would be a column for each student and their goal. You then go through the schedule and see where you can work on the goals. You can do something similar if you have students in various classes or go between buildings. Your matrix, just might look a bit different. Using the matrix also enables you an easy way to collect data on the goal.
To work on B greeting adults, I prompt him in the hallway on the way to class when an adult greets him. I have planned with one of the paraprofessionals that she will greet him daily. I am working on fading my prompts so that he can become independent in this task.
If I was in preschool and focusing on building vocabulary with my students, I may make sure that my snack includes various farm animals such as having animal crackers. This way we can talk about the animals as we eat them!
In this post you can see how I used our science lesson to work on sight words.
3. Use your matrix!
Now that you have determined where your teaching and instruction is happening, get to it! This part should be easy. If you can, take data on your matrix show that you can demonstrate progress and note what you need to change.
4. Change your matrix as needed.
You will need to update your matrix when a student masters a skill, a unit changes, your schedule changes, or for a variety of other reasons. I keep a template on my computer so that I can easily change it.
If you are interested in learning more about embedded instruction, I originally learned about it from Sharon Raver. I took a few classes that she taught while working towards my Master's degree. She has written many professional articles and books that include using a matrix and embedded learning.