8th Grade IEP Writing: Transition Planning Questionnaire

Saturday, October 24, 2015
Let me put this out there now, this was my first time writing a transition plan ever. I don't know what it is, but everything was so complicated. I'm sure I'll look back at these first few IEPs with total amusement - but I cannot begin to describe to you how many times I had to call my fellow co-learning specialist (CoCo) to teach me how to do something or how many times I had just sat staring at this page on the IEP.

I'm very sensitive about IEPs - I always find that the moment I open one I get this anxiety. Now, don't get me wrong, who doesn't get anxiety when they're writing an IEP? My anxiety is all about: "Is this IEP good enough? Will the next person who gets this IEP understand this child? Does everything make sense? Am I writing enough in each category?"

Anyways, on top of that pre-existing anxiety, add on something completely foreign to me and I was out for the count. CoCo was a great help, she directed me where to go, what to use, what to duplicate, how to phrase things, etc. One of the things I used in my first IEP with a transition plan was a student questionnaire. Originally, I used the one straight from IEP database (is that what it's called?). I always let students read and reflect on their own first, it's their personal information and I want them to be honest with their answers. I don't think it's appropriate for me to hover over them, especially the students who are very sensitive about their disability, their abilities, and are not very forthcoming when an adult is near. I handed this to the student after discussing what transition means and what stage they are in when it comes to "growing up." Directions were issued and they were off! Ten minutes passed before I started making rounds to ensure that they were on task - students openly told me that they found the language to be completely bizarre. They didn't understand what words meant, or they needed examples, at times students just didn't know what the question was asking.  They also mentioned that they didn't like the format - there was not enough space, font was too small, etc.

Check out more below!

So I went back and I made one on my own. The questions were rephrased and had examples, I made boxes so students knew where to put their answers, font was changed to something they could easily read, language was changed to include the "technical terms" while also incorporating language students understood (parentheses are my best friends). I made the questions into prompts at times. For example, the original question asked students "what is your disability, how does it affect you?" As you already know, the current 8th graders do not know their disability - I'm working on it! Instead, I wrote: "How do you learn/behave differently? Do you have different needs?" This way, it leads up to the conversation about their disability. Hopefully, as I continue to work in this middle school, I can begin this process earlier so that it isn't "news" to middle school students.

The new version was distributed to students and they were able to complete it independently. I made sure to sit with students after they completed to discuss what they wrote and to proofread answers. I'm now making my questionnaire available on my TeachersPayTeachers store. It includes several different versions (an editable blank box version, lined versions with and without highlighted questions, and a "basic font" version).

Now you obviously, can ask these questions to students and type it up as they speak to you. That's probably the most time efficient, but I chose to have them hand write it so that I could include it in their high school portfolio.


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