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Teaching Students with Special Needs in the Mainstream Classroom (K-6)

Does your classroom population include students with special needs? This online course teaches K-6 teachers how to address students with special needs in the general classroom. The course provides information about teacher involvement in the special education process in terms of assessment, intervention, and collaboration. A variety of suggestions for working with students who have special needs such as learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, emotional and behavioral disorders, communication disorders, autism spectrum disorders, ADHD, sensory impairments, and low-incidence disabilities are provided. Also included are strategies to assist ELLs, at-risk, and gifted students. Each special need is defined, and common causes and characteristics are identified, along with suggested instructional strategies. Intervention strategies and classroom adaptations are also provided to help teachers accommodate students with special needs in an inclusive classroom. This course is worth 3 ⅓ semester units/5 quarter units from UC San Diego Extension. For detailed information on university credit, click here.

"I found the content and resources to be enlightening and insightful." - Alisa Reid


Enrollment Options

Register Course Registration Only $199

RegisterCourse Plus Credit from UC San Diego Extension Only $429


Required Resource Book: This course has a modestly-priced required resource book (available in both new and used versions) that can be purchased through Amazon using the following link. Note that you can begin and participate in your course before the book arrives.

Your Students, My Students, Our Students: Rethinking Equitable and Inclusive Classrooms” by Lee Ann Jung, Nancy Frey, Douglas Fisher, and Julie Kroener

If you are registering for multiple courses, use the following link to access the book list for all PDI courses with direct purchase links through Amazon. PDI Course Resource Book List


Topical Outline / Click here to request a copy of the detailed syllabus

PDI Course Number: 23BXX

UCSD Course Number: EDUC41528

Unit One

  • Course Overview and Glossary
  • The Definition and Scope of Special Needs
  • Services for Students with Special Needs
  • Assignment #1: Write an autobiography/Write an article reflection

Unit Two

  • The Special Education Process
  • Identifying Special Needs
  • Pre-referral Intervention Strategies
  • The Formal Referral Process
  • Program Placement
  • Assignment #2: Identifying Students with Special Needs

Unit Three

  • The Importance of Collaboration
  • Creating an Inclusive Classroom
  • Assignment #3: Develop activities to differentiate instruction

Unit Four

  • Students with Learning Disabilities
  • Students with Intellectual Disabilities
  • Students with Emotional and Behavioral Disorders
  • Students with ADHD
  • Assignment #4: Develop classroom adaptations

Unit Five

  • Students with Communication Disorders
  • Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders
  • Students with Sensory Impairments
  • Students with Low-Incidence Disabilities
  • Assignment #5: Develop classroom adaptations

Unit Six

  • Working with ELLs
  • Working with At-Risk Students
  • Teaching Gifted and Talented Students
  • Special Needs and the CCSS
  • Assignment #6: Develop a lesson that differentiates instruction
  • Assignment #7: Reading/Learning Log (Based on required resource book)