To Calculator, or Not To Calculator, That is a Question

When it comes to planning lessons in special education, or general education for that matter, the goal is for all students to be able to access, understand, and be able to successfully apply the content to show evidence of full understanding. The application can take many forms: performance assessments, formative assessments, summative assessments, teacher observations, etc…

But how do you get to that final assessment piece? This post is about the planning process that goes into successful lessons for all students.  Let’s begin with Universal Design for Learning (UDL). UDL is a model for planning lessons and units that creates access to the content for all students.  Here is a cartoon that embodies the philosophy of UDL.


One major component of planning in special education math classes is prioritizing the mathematical goals and the needs of the students to access the mathematics in a lesson.  A Teaching Children Mathematics article from 2004 suggests the following steps for beginning to plan a successful math lesson for students with disabilities:

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