As a consultant to schools, I work with a number of special education teachers who are just beginning to use Unique Learning System to support specially designed instruction. I’ve found that there are some hidden gems within the materials that educators may be missing out on. So, I’m going to share five of them with you here.
Unique Learning System includes many instructional high‑leverage practices that ensure the needs of each unique learner are met. Did you know that there are engaging, on-demand science, social studies, and math courses in addition to the thematic unit lessons? These supplemental, ready‑made, research- and evidence-based lessons are well worth discovering. Regardless of the grade band you teach, you’ll have access to all of the courses and be able to search for the topics you need by keywords, tags, subjects, or categories. One reason I love this content is that it allows you to pull supplemental assignments for those in inclusion settings. And with the math courses, students have even more support with differentiated activities that provide systematic, explicit, skills‑based instruction in foundational mathematics!
2. Core materials
Unique Learning System has numerous core materials and differentiated lessons that can help you with routine and daily instructional tasks in your classroom. Specifically, there are some great materials for organizing and running morning meetings and calendar time that can help to make activities more interactive. There are also task analyses and workflows with visuals to support common self‑care routines, like washing hands. You can even find parent notes differentiated for students with varied skill sets to send home and encourage family involvement.
3. Teacher reference materials
Reference materials support your daily instruction and your students’ specially designed instruction. These materials are divided into three categories—Instructional Tools, Instructional Guides, and Alignment Tools.
Instructional Tools include manipulatives and printable templates that support Unique Learning System lessons. These additional tools aid special education professionals in teaching emergent literacy and foundational math across all grade bands. They include:
- Math, money, and time manipulatives
- Communication board strips
- Letters and sounds cards
- Letter and number tracing templates
- Leveled chapter books for middle and high school
Instructional Guides support best practices for teaching methods and offer evidence-based teaching strategies. They include:
- Active participation guidelines and scripts
- Instructional tips
- Scope and sequence for ELA and math
- Phonemic awareness, phonics, word study, vocabulary, and math guides
Alignment Tools include alignment documents and instructional targets connecting the lessons and materials to your state’s standards.
4. Ability to hide symbols and settings
When you are using the interactive document (iDoc) reader, many of the books and materials include symbol supports. But what if your student doesn’t need symbols or you don’t want to use symbols with a specific group? Well, with one click of a button within the lesson, you can hide all the symbols in that book or activity.
In addition, the settings menu allows you to adjust the iDoc settings based on the needs of individual students. You can:
- Enable text to speech
- Change text to speech highlight color
- Change text to speech rate of speed
- Highlight the right or wrong answer
- Play incentive audio
- Adjust answer selection options
- Target cue for drag‑and‑drop activities
5. n2y Library
Are you looking for books to use during shared or independent reading? Unique Learning System also has a library of over 1,000 leveled adapted books, similar to those found in the thematic units! You can search the database for reading material by the level and/or topic that you need. Once you have selected a book, you can put it on the iDoc reader by clicking the orange touch button on the right side of the book title or download a PDF by clicking the same link. I always recommend that teachers click the blue button on the top right of the library page (next to the question mark) to get the scoop on the leveling system Unique Learning System uses.
Unique Learning System is such a great tool for planning out your lessons, but there is so much more it can offer to support specially designed instruction in your classroom. You just have to know where to look! With core units and supplemental courses that offer evidence-based strategies, reference materials that enhance instruction, and accessibility and reading options for students, it boosts teaching and learning.