A group of six elementary school students sit in a semicircle on the grass. One has his hand raised and the teacher opposite points to him.

The actual intervention that you do will be fun since it focuses on the student’s strengths and interests. Student-initiated projects provide structure for addressing goals. Examples of projects include:

  • writing a play and directing it,
  • planning and doing a service project,
  • cooking,
  • planning and doing a scavenger hunt,
  • creating art and then writing a presentation about it.

For a fuller view of how this could be done, see the tab for Case Studies of interest-based learning. Interest-based learning can be curriculum relevant. For example, in social studies, a student may conduct an interview with a veteran from WWII.

As you work on the student’s goals, teach her to leverage strategies that work best for her. Part of the process is teaching the student to “learn how to learn.” It should be a discovery process for both of you. During each class or session, have the student complete some sort of self-appraisal or meta-cognitive task. This is key for carryover, self-advocacy, and independence. You can have your student explain her learning profile or explain what dyslexia is to a novel listener. A couple of other suggestions for meta-cognitive tasks are 1) stating the strategies that she is going to use or 2) completing a self rating scale (that you then compare to your appraisal). Whenever possible, you should have the student do the documentation of her progress (graphing, charting, editing, etc.). This also teaches meta-cognition through self-monitoring and can be reinforcing. A final part of teaching meta-cognitive skills is helping your student to self-advocate. Teach your student to advocate for a Universal Design to demonstrate her knowledge. Teach him to advocate for using strategies and accommodations in his class. (She may need a script that tells about her learning style and dyslexia.)

How do I measure my student’s progress?

You will find that informal assessments (i.e., rating scale, # of spelling errors, word count per minute) will be more sensitive to the student’s progress relative to the interest-based goals. Another advantage to informal assessments is that it allows you to track progress more frequently and to compare the student’s skills over time. You will want to obtain a baseline score with periodic (annual or semi-annual) monitoring on standardized assessments. The standardized assessments will allow you to see if your student is able to carry-over his progress on his IEP goal to a non-trained measure. This testing will help you to see if he is “closing the gap” between his performance and that of his same-aged peers.

Have the student write a self-reflection. Include areas that improved and areas that he wants to continue to learn more about (i.e., are still in need of improvement). This leads to the next set of goals, projects, and it becomes a cycle. At this point, it has probably become less work for you because you don’t have to come up with everything on your own. The student is motivated and is learning how to learn. Your student has learned how to monitor her progress and is collaborating with you on future goals and directions. Projects are more long-reaching, so the time required for lesson planning will actually decrease.