Creating a Scope & Sequence in a Mixed-Grades Classroom

Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education

Teaching in  special education classrooms can be tricky! We often teach students in a variety of grades and with a variety of needs. We have to figure out how to teach SO MANY standards and IEP goals & differentiate based on each student's needs. 

Something that has helped me with this SO much over the years is creating scope & sequences for content areas (math, reading, morning meeting, science, social studies, etc). Scope & sequences are also great because they remove the question "What am I going to teach next week?" and ensure that you cover all of the standards/ IEP goals required. 

What are scope & sequences and how are they helpful?
  • Scope & sequences are also often called curriculum maps.
  • A scope & sequence lays out the content that will be taught (the standards, IEP goals, etc.), the order that the content will be taught & often also includes materials and activities for lessons. 
  • They help you plan how you will teach different standards/ skills across lessons and units. 
  • If you have boxed curriculum in your classroom, it likely includes a scope and sequence. However, many special education teachers don't have boxed curricula that meets the needs of all of our students... So creating a scope & sequence based on your state standards and your students' needs is a great alternative! 

    Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education
Steps for creating a Scope & Sequence:
  1. Start by creating chart or document with all of the standards for each grade you teach. I start with one content area at a time. I make charts in a Word Doc for Math, Reading, Science and Social Studies. This year I only have 4th-5th grade, but I also did this when I taught K-5. These charts will help you look at all of the grade level standards at one time. 

    Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education

  2. Now it's time to start grouping standards that have similar outcomes/ tasks. Here is an example of how I did this for 4th and 5th grade math standards > I color-coding standards that aligned with each other (i.g. there are multiple 4th and 5th grade standards that relate to money). After I grouped all of the standards with similar outcomes, I identified 13 broad math units. I picked 13 because that would allow me to do 3 week math units, but you can pick whatever number of units that works for your classroom and standards.  I know this is harder when you're planning out more than a two grade levels, but it's doable with creativity! 

    Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education

  3. Now you're going to create another chart (sorry!) for each unit. I put each grade level side by side for each unit. For each unit, you can include:
    • The standards you're targeting
    • IEP goals you will target
    • Materials you will use or activities to do
    • How you'll differentiate
    • Any other important information or reminders!
      • (I left some of this information off of the scope & sequences I'm sharing due to confidentiality)

        Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education

        Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education

        Creating a Scope & Sequence in Special Education
Creating scope & sequences can definitely take a few hours for each content area (depending on how in depth you make them and how much info you add), but they will save you time in the long run! I pretty much use them as my "lesson plans" and guide for the entire school year, so it saves me a lot of planning time during the school year! 

If you're looking for math units to use with your scope & sequence, check out this bundle of math units! Each unit includes differentiated worksheets, hands-on centers & digital Google Slides! 

Bundle of Math Units for Special Education


  1. Hi there,
    I have a question. What do you suggest for students who are not developmentally ready for the content/standards? I have 4 students who will technically be 1st graders but did not master any Kindergarten Standards.

    1. I am a self-contained sped teacher. I recommend looking back at some older standards and scaffold where necessary. It's okay to add lower grade work in a station or assignment for some of your students to do if you can connect the standards.

  2. I love the way you broke this down to create your scope and sequence. Thank you for sharing.