This is the perfect time to plan while you still have some momentum from the school year. While we don’t know what next year may bring, as teachers, we know we always have to do planning and paperwork. My school is requiring teachers to create unit plans for next year. Creating a unit plan for a self-contained, low incidence classroom might seem like a daunting task, but it can be adapted to be effective for any classroom. Here’s how I created a unit plan for students’ communication goals in my classroom…

1. Choose a Topic/Skill Set 

You will need to choose a topic or a subject for your unit plans. Since our students’ goals guide our instruction, it is best to start with your students’ goals to choose a topic. While it seems like there might not be one topic all your students are currently working on, it might work better for you to start with one subject for one small group, write a unit plan with a curriculum you already use (The Autism Helper Curriculum would work great!) or a whole group lesson that is differentiated and leveled. I wrote my required lesson plan for Communication Station. Since all my students need practice in some aspect of communication, doing a “whole group” lesson was appropriate because it gave students the opportunity to practice with all of their classmates, having a variety of communication partners.

2. Choose or Create a Template 

You may not have to do this step if you are provided with a template. The template I use is pictured  below. If you would like to see more examples,  I would recommend Google Search “universal backwards design unit plan” to find a template to use or to get ideas to create your own.  Make sure that the template you find or create has places for your desired results/outcomes, assessment and a learning plan.

3. Identify the Desired Results

In this section, you will determine what students already know, what they need to be able to understand and what they need to be able to do. By choosing a topic, goal or curriculum in the beginning, we have already done some of this work. 

On the template I used, the desired results section included established goals, transfer, meaning, and acquisition. I am going to describe what I put in each section. 

Established Goals-I wrote the Essential Elements Standards under this section. You can write the standards that you use in this section.  

Transfer- In this part, I described what skills I would like the students to be able to complete after the unit has been taught.

Meaning-The “Meaning” section has two parts- “Understandings” and “Essential Questions”. In the “Understandings” section I wrote what the students will understand after the unit is completed.  In the “Essential Questions” section, I wrote the questions I would need to answer in order to really have students understand the unit. It’s definitely okay to have a lot of “what” and “how” questions for students in the cluster program. 

Acquisition-This section has two parts-what students will know and what they would be able to do after the unit is completed. 

4. Evidence

This section has places to write your evaluative criteria, performance tasks and other evidence. I used my students’ communication goals (a mix of language arts, independent functioning and social/emotional, depending on the student) as the evaluative criteria. For the performance tasks section, I write all the ways students would practice their communication goals. I didn’t have enough room to include all my students’ goals, so I added them in a separate section.  For other evidence, I wrote observation during non-academic times. Creating your assessments or data sheets after completing this section would be ideal and make your planning a lot easier. 

5. Plan Learning Experiences & Instruction 

The learning plan is created last to make sure that you are clear on the outcomes you want for your students that you wrote about the first two sections. In my learning plan, I wrote a general guide for each day of the week. Since my learning sessions in my classroom all follow the same format (mantra, warm-up, lesson and share), I kept the format each day the same, but put in the different skills we were targeting each day based on my student outcomes from the first two sections. This section doesn’t have to be days of the week or follow the same pattern week to week-it can be by sessions and it could be over a couple of weeks. 

I hope this was helpful in jump starting your summer planning. If you are interested in more ways to prep for the next school year, check out my previous blogs- Academic Lesson Planning for the School Year and Prepping for the Next School Year. Stay safe and healthy!

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