Plans for Special Education Students

Special Education & the Arts

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Instructional Strategies | ADD/ADHD | Visual Impairment | ESL ]


Art Lesson Plans for Students with Disabilities
Learning Disability - Submitted by Pam Whisenhunt


Pam has specialized in teaching students with learning disabilities for 25 years. Here are some basic descriptions and guidelines. They are:

  1. Normal to above average intelligence

  2. All have a different array of strengths and weaknesses (mostly language-based), which is why they need small classes/ or extra help

  3. Many are very creative ( Chuck Close is reportedly dyslexic) "right brained"

The issues that drive teachers crazy are generally:

  • Accompanying attention-deficit hyper-active disorder (ADHD), which means they often have great difficulty staying on task

  • Not following directions - often because they don't understand (auditory difficulties)

  • Often very disorganized and forget things

  • Oppositional behavior (probably the toughest, usually emotionally based)Special Education

Lessons for LD students:

  1. In general, keep instructions simple, no more than 3 steps at a time (memory issues)

  2. Any lesson with a clear sequence is generally a good lesson -

  3. Strong visuals, quick demos

  4. Don't talk too much! (ADHD and auditory issues) They are actually very hands on and like to get on with it!

  5. Don't insult their intelligence; many are very bright, some are in the gifted range

Some lessons that have been popular:

  • Simple, realistic drawing (they tend to be very concrete) - how to draw a face, using the half face photograph and drawing the mirror image; basic 1-point perspective. basic landscape showing how aerial perspective works

  • Papier Mache - great medium for these guys as long as they understand the structure - Masks, dragons and animals are very popular (you can make small animals using pipe cleaner armatures that are wrapped in paper towels/newsprint + tape)

  • Cartooning - many are aspiring cartoonists

  • Stenciled designs - any kind of stenciling with instructions for creating repeated designs are generally successful - especially for students with poor motor skills

  • They love clay! Competition for the tallest coil pot, slabs with images incised or carved low relief... (note from Judy - my LD, DH and SBH students all loved working in clay. I never had any problems)

  • They love paint! Color mixing designs are great warm-ups for a painting project

What you may have to do:

Simply instructions - use graphics/images with instructions - revise your written assessments- give oral exams - use big fonts, Reading is a problem for many LD students. Focus assessments on the "big ideas"


Also see IAD's Special Education page.

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