Color Coding the Coordinate Plane

ordered pair ic

I had a 7th grader who could not plot points. He has asperger’s and tested at a 1st grade level in math. Color coding the coordinate plane worked well for him.

As I have written previously color coding is an effective method to break a concept into smaller parts. Finding 5 on the yellow line is an easier direction to follow than finding 5 on the horizontal or x axis for many students.

The numbers in the ordered pairs are color coordinated with the axes colors. Students learn inductively that the first number in the ordered pair relates to the x or horizontal axis (yellow goes with yellow). Identifying the x-axis can be a subsequent step as the act of plotting the point is the immediate goal. In the photo you can see that the first few problems were color coded but eventually this support was faded and he continued to plot the points correctly.

The handout is found at

Homework as a Challenge Part 1

In another post  I describe a former 7th grade student of mine who was classified as having asperger’s and tested at a 1st grade or kindergarten math and reading level. He was not doing his homework. His science teacher explained that he was prompting the student to copy the homework. The student’s guardian explained that she asks to see his homework but he didn’t have any. I set out to research why.

The first photo below shows what he copied for his science homework in his agenda. Immediately apparent is the problem with writing, spelling and simply making sense of the assignment. I took his agenda to the science classroom and found what he had copied (2nd photo below). It was not even the assignment but the key sections for a lab report.

My takeaway from this is as follows:

  • A problem with homework completion can be the result of a variety of causes.
  • The most common approach to supporting homework completion that I have seen in 17 years is to prompt the student to copy homework.
  • General ed teachers can easily overlook the complexity of completing homework that a child with a disability can encounter.
  • Even the act of completing homework is a skill with numerous steps that can be broken down by a task analysis (see my post about homework and reading).
  • As Dr. Molteni, one of my professors overseeing autism studies at the University of Saint Joseph often stated, students with autism who find success usually have an individual who takes a personal and direct role in helping the student. That is certainly what this student needed.

I.C. copy of hw from board into agenga

science report outline on board

Manchester CC Survey about Student Struggles

Manchester CC Survey about Student Struggles

Manchester Community College (CT) surveyed their students and asked for reasons why students struggle in their classes. The number two most common response was that students didn’t know how to study effectively.

If the students in the general population struggle with this imagine students with special needs. As I’ve posted elsewhere on this blog, students with autism or asperger’s are very likely to have executive functioning deficits which directly and significantly impacts the aforementioned self-help skills.

Note: commentor asked for link to this study. Here it is. Find “Survey Results at the bottom of the list of handouts – page 11 on the Word document.

Sudoku Scaffolded


I wrote in another post about a 7th grader with asperger’s who tested in math at a 1st grade or kindergarten level. I used scaffolding to show him how to do Sudoku puzzles. On the left is a simple version with one digit missing from the box. In the middle is a little more complicated scaffold. On the right is a completed Sudoku puzzle that this student completed on his own (minimal prompting). These worksheets come from

Science Fair Project

Science Fair Project

I once had a 7th grade student with asperger’s who tested at a 1st grade or kindergarten reading and math level. I helped guide him through his science fair project. I asked him what he was interested in. He replied “growing flowers.” I asked what helps make flowers grow. He responded with water and sunlight. From there I guided him and asked leading questions for his project on photosynthesis. He collected real data and supported his hypothesis. By the end he could explain the process of photosynthesis. This is his project board and he won at the school level and went to the district competition! This is perhaps my most rewarding experience as a teacher.

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