Special Education/Engagement


How do you keep a class of 8th grade MI/LD students engaged in required instruction that is too hard for them?

The answer is simple, your instruction should always be planned and directed toward the ability levels of the student.  When teaching a group of students who have varying skills you use your skills at diversifying instruction.  For students who have been diagnosed as having a disability under IDEA, the only mandated instruction is that within the IEP, which is created by the IEP Team including a general education teacher.  

The more complex answer would require that I explain why there is pressure to "include" special education students, and why inclusion with some research proven provisions is the best model we know to provide special education.  You need to know that inclusion is NOT even mentioned within the Individauls with Disabilities Education Act, however, students need to be mainstreamed as much as possible and exposed to and make progress toward general education.  Thus, being exposed to general curriculum is best, but each IEP is supposed to be individually created to provide the best program for each child, based upon their unique needs.  Therefore, any mandated set of goals that aren't based upon the unique needs of the child are bogus, and frankly non-compliant with the law.  

Don't get me wrong, I support inclusion, but not blanket, shot-gun placed inclusion for all designed as general education.  If it were that simple there would never have been a need for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act.  The law requires first and foremost that students identified with a disability receive specially designed instruction (definition of special education) that is free and appropriate.  If your "mandated" goal is not appropriate, then it shouldn't be taught...now is it appropriate for some, then ok use your back out skills and make it appropropriate for each.  I could write a book explaining how to engage special education students in this process, in fact, am...but it isn't near completion yet.

Good luck.

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Dr. Norm Bishop


I have spent nealy 40 years in the area of Special Education. I have had the pleasure of teaching pre-school, elementary, middle, high school and college levels, as well as, served in school district administration buildings in classroom/legal support positions. I have also spent some time working in a State Department of Education Exceptional Student Services Office and am now currently Division Head and Director of Institutional Research at Alice Lloyd College in Pippa Passes, Kentucky. I also teach special education classes on campus. I have also taught full time teacher preparation at Northern Arizona University on the Tucson Campus, Seattle Pacific University, and at the University of Wyoming in Laramie, Wyoming. In addition to that I have taught adjunct at Seattle Pacific University, City University in Seattle, Ashford University, and Grand Canyon University.


I have experienced directly special education legal issues, process and procedure, and have taught at all levels in every special education category except gifted. My major expertise is diagnostic prescriptive teaching, literacy as it relates to disabilities, technology in special education, and Educational Leadership. My greatest passion in the field is building new programs, implementing and doing the research to see how they work. My Dissertation and principle research interest is in the area of inclusive education, primarily co-teaching of students with disabilities in the general education classroom.

Council for Exceptional Children, Association for the Supervision of Curriculum, National Reading Council.

Teaching Exceptional Children, Published computer assisted instruction, titled PAL, Special Education Basics, college Textbook, Teaching with Precision, college Textbook, Various devotionals at the website, Preachitteachit.com.

I have a B.A. in Secondary Education, a Masters in Special Education (cross categorical), administrative certification, and a second B.A. in Elementary Education. I completed my doctorate in Educational Leadership at Northern Arizona University.

Awards and Honors
Best Summer Program in the Nation (Honorable Mention, when I was Teaching) Multiple local awards

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