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ChoiceMaker Self-Determination Lesson Materials

The ChoiceMaker Self-Determination Transition Curriculum (.pdf) teaches middle and secondary students the self-determination skills needed to be successful in school and adult life. It consists of three strands:

  1. Choosing educational, vocational, and personal goals
  2. Expressing goals via active student involvement in IEP meetings
  3. Taking action to attain IEP goals

Six ChoiceMaker Self-Determination instructional packages teach students the skills identified in the ChoiceMaker Curriculum.

Educators and family members of individuals with disabilities may download the following ChoiceMaker lesson materials at no cost. Feel free to modify and improve the lessons. Please send your modified versions and suggestions to so that they may be considered for posting for others to use.

Funding from the U.S. Department of Education, Office of Special Education Programs supported the development and field testing of the ChoiceMaker Curriculum materials.

ChoiceMaker Self-Determination Curriculum Strands, Goals, and Modules

StrandTeaching GoalsModules
1. Choosing GoalsA. Student Interests
B. Student Skills & Limits
C. Student Goals
  • Choosing Education Goals
  • Choosing Employment Goals
  • Choosing Personal Goals
2. Expressing GoalsD. Student Leading Meeting
E. Student Reporting
  • Self -Directed IEP
3. Taking ActionF. Student Plan
G. Student Action
H. Student Evaluation
I. Student Adjustment
  • Take Action

The ChoiceMaker Self-Determination Assessment requires educators to complete a 5-point Likert scale response for each of the 62 items across the student skills and opportunities at school sections. The raw scores for each of the choosing goals, IEP involvement, and goal attainment domains are tabulated, graphed, and compared to the total points available to find the percent positive for each domain. Using a ChoiceMaker Curriculum goal and objective matrix, educators circle each assessment item with a score of 0, 1, or 2 to identify student self-determination transition needs.

This curriculum-referenced assessment has been validated using over 300 students with learning disabilities, intellectual disabilities, and emotional or behavior problems from four states. A test-retest study suggests the reliability of the assessment results across time. 

Of the available self-determination assessments, the ChoiceMaker Self-Determination Assessment is the only curriculum-referenced assessment.

This assessment may be downloaded and used for free by clicking on the following link.

ChoiceMaker Assessment (.pdf)



These lessons and materials provide students with school- and community-based experiences to help them choose goals in each of the three transition areas by identifying their interests, skills, and limits. A student video entitled Choosing Goals to Plan Your Life introduces the concepts by showing high school students using the Choosing Goals process.

The Choosing Goals video portrays students discussing their experiences with choosing and setting realistic goals based on their individual skills and interests.

(Note: Each Choosing Goals lesson package uses the same Choosing Goals video.)

Description. The Choosing Education Goals lesson package provides the structure and opportunity for students to develop satisfying personal lives and to spend their free time in safe, legal, healthy ways. It teaches students to identify and then express the personal free time skills, limits, interests, and to establish and choose personal goals to enhance postsecondary independent living outcomes.

Educators use this lesson package to teach students three sets of skills: (a) how to identify educational interests, skills, and limits, (b) how to identify educational opportunities, and (c) how to develop high school and postsecondary educational goals based on identified interests, skills, limits, mediated by available opportunities. Through the Choosing Education Goal process students develop their  plan of study to present at their IEP meeting and for inclusion into educational planning documents (i.e., IEP, ARD). This enables students to fulfill the IDEA requirement that a plan of study be completed at each annual IEP meeting. The last lesson provides students the opportunity to take what they learned and develop educational goals using the choosing goals process.

Documenting need. IDEA 2004 requires as a transition education component a postsecondary education goal and a Course of Study that details the classes and school experiences students need to attain their postschool goals.



Description.  The Choosing Employment Goals lesson package will enable students to identify post-secondary employment goals. It consists of three parts: (1) choosing general goals lessons, (2) experience-based lessons, and (3) dream job lessons. The lesson activities, which take place at community job sites and in the classroom, teach students to reflect upon their experiences, draw conclusions about themselves, and learn about community opportunities that match their interests and skills. The sections may be taught and experienced in any order and may be integrated within the content and opportunities of existing school curriculum, courses, and community-based instructional sites. Students collect and assimilate this information over time in order to make informed career decisions. 

Choosing general goals lessons. This methodology enables students to quickly determine their goals across transition areas by identifying critical needs.  

Experience-based lessons. These lessons teach students to draw meaningful conclusions about their interests, skills, and limits based on their work experience.

Dream job lessons. With the dream job lessons, students gather information about a variety of jobs, and then research those they find most promising.

Target student population. Educators use these materials in school-based courses and with students who are involved in on-the-job activities through work-study, on-the-job training, volunteering, or working at after-school jobs. Students will need basic reading and writing skills.



Description. The Choosing Personal Goals lessons provide educators a structured means to provide an opportunity for students to develop satisfying personal lives and to spend their free time in safe, legal, healthy ways. The lesson package provide educators the means to enable students to identify independent living transition needs from which annual independent living transition goals may be developed to enable students to experience meaningful postsecondary independent living outcomes.

Lesson details.  Choosing Personal Goals lessons take place in classroom and community settings. The activities enable students to reflect on their experiences, draw conclusions about themselves, and learn about community free time opportunities.





Self-Directed IEP is the lesson package that addresses the Expressing Goals strand of the curriculum. Self-Directed IEP is a multimedia package that teaches students how to manage their own IEP meetings. It includes two videos, a Teacher's Manual, and a Student Workbook.  

Active student engagement in their educational meeting and transition planning discussions predicts post-school education and employment outcomes. The Self-Directed IEP is an evidenced-based instructional practice that teaches students to become active participants in their IEP meetings with coaching being provided as needed by the teacher who taught the lessons. Overtime students use their learned skills to lead their IEP meetings. Once the Self-Directed IEP skills are learned and practiced, we recommend educators teach student more detailed IEP engagement using the other ChoiceMaker lesson packages and the instructional materials found at the I'm Determined web site.

Description. The Self-Directed IEP contains 11 sequential lessons that typically take six to ten 45-minute sessions to teach. Lessons may be taught in a resource room, study skills class, or other settings. To teach students who are fully included in general education classes, teachers may choose to meet students during study skills or similar class. Some teachers hold an IEP Leadership retreat day to teach students the Self-Directed IEP skills.  

The Self-Directed IEP contains four instructional tools.

  1. Self-Directed IEP in Action video (7 minutes). This captioned video shows students with different disabilities using the self-directed IEP lessons in their classes and talking about their experiences. This video is used to introduce the self-directed IEP to students, parents, teachers, and administrators.
  2. Self-Directed IEP video (17 minutes). This video, available in both a captioned or uncaptioned version, depicts a student, named Zeke, describing how he led his IEP meeting to a younger, reluctant friend. Through flashbacks, Zeke models each of the 11 steps of the Self-Directed IEP.
  3. Teacher’s Manual. This manual provides background information, detailed scripted lesson plans, and a teacher answer key to the quizzes and activities. Detailed lessons include a variety of activities to teach each step, including a mnemonic learning strategy, vocabulary-building exercises, role-playing, discussion, and brief reading and writing activities. The lessons are all presented in a model, lead, test approach.
  4. Student Workbook. This consumable workbook provides students an opportunity to apply each step of the Self-Directed IEP to their own meeting. Students complete a script which summarizes all the steps to take with them to their own IEP meetings.

Self-Directed IEP - no caption



Self-Directed IEP - captioned



Self-Directed IEP In Action - captioned



This strand has one module entitled Take Action. The module consists of a student video (also entitled Take Action), teacher lesson plans, and student worksheets. Lessons teach students to plan how they will attain their goals by making decisions about performance standards, receiving feedback, motivation, strategies, needed supports, and schedules.

Description. Goal attainment represents the keystone self-determination behavior. Educators use the Take Action lessons to teach students both with and without disabilities the crucial skills for attaining their goals. The lesson package consists of a student video, teacher manual, and student worksheets. Students learn to break their long-term goals into short-term goals that can be accomplished in a short time period. The lessons can be applied to any goal or project, including students’ IEP goals.

Take Action overview. The Take Action lesson package provides a tool for educators to teach students a simple and effective goal attainment process. The Take Action lessons begin with a 10-minute video that demonstrates the Take Action process. Once learned, students can apply the Take Action process to any goal.

Sample lesson description. The following bullets briefly describe a couple of the Take Action lessons. At the end of the lessons, students demonstrate mastery through a variety of activities, including brief exams.

Lesson 1. Introduces the Take Action process. In this first lesson, students learn the four major parts of the Take Action process: plan, act, evaluate, and adjust. Students complete a brief quiz at the end of this lesson to demonstrate their knowledge of the four Take Action steps. Students also begin the process of breaking down a goal into into basic parts.

Lesson 2. This lesson introduces students to the plan parts. The lesson begins with students watching a 10-minute video entitled Take Action, which shows students developing plans and working on attaining their own goals. Next, students learn four plan parts: standard, motivation, strategy, and schedule. Numerous exercises teach students the meaning of each of the plan parts. Once again, students complete a brief quiz to demonstrate mastery.

Need for teaching students goal attainment skills. Mithaug, Mithaug, Agran, Martin, and Wehmeyer (2007) consider goal attainment as the most important self-determination component. Yet, youth who receive special education services possess far fewer goal attainment and other self-determination skills than do secondary general education students who are not disabled. Goal-oriented performance involves a two-step process where students first set goals based upon their interests, skills, and limits. Second, individuals develop plans, then take action on the plans to achieve their goals (Martin, Huber Marshall, & DePry, 2008). Active involvement in goal setting may add purposefulness to life, and self-directed goal setting often facilitates improved performance (Bandura, 1997; Mithaug, Mithaug, Agran, Martin, & Wehmeyer, 2003). Goal setting facilitates performance increases because goals specify the requirements for success and prompt self-monitoring toward the desired outcome (Wehmeyer, Palmer, Agran, Mithaug, & Martin, 2000).

Take Action Video



Multiple research studies have been done on the ChoiceMaker Curriculum components. Articles and book chapters detail use of the components in the classroom as well.

Martin, J. E., & Marshall, L. H. (1995). ChoiceMaker: A comprehensive self-determination transition program. Intervention in School and Clinic, 30, 147-156. (.pdf)

Allen, S., Smith, A., Test, D. W., Flowers, C., & Wood, W. M. (2001). The effects of Self-Directed IEP on student participation in IEP meetings. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 24, 107-120. (.pdf)

Martin, J. E., Van Dycke, J. L., Christensen, W. R., Greene, B. A., Gardner, J. E., & Lovett, D. L. (2006). Increasing student participation in their transition IEP meetings: Establishing the Self-Directed IEP as an evidenced-based practice. Exceptional Children, 72, 299-316. (.pdf)

Snyder, E. P., & Shapiro, E. S. (1997). Teaching students with emotional/behavioral disorders the skills to participate in the development of their own IEPs. Behavioral Disorders, 22, 246-259. (.pdf)

Woods, L. P., Martin, J. E., & Humphrey, M. J. (2013). The difference a year makes: An exploratory Self-Directed IEP case study. Exceptionality, 21, 176-189. doi:10.1080/09362835.2013.802233 (.pdf)

Self-Directed IEP Related Articles and Chapters

Martin, J. E., Van Dycke, J. L., Greene, B. A., Gardner, J. E., Christensen, W. R., Woods, L. L., & Lovett, D. L. (2006). Direct observation of teacher-directed IEP meetings: Establishing the need for student IEP meeting instruction. Exceptional Children, 72, 187-200. (.pdf)

Martin, J. E., Greene, B. A., & Borland, B. J. (2004). Secondary students’ involvement in their IEP meetings: Administrators’ perceptions. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 27, 177-188. (.pdf)

Van Dycke, J. V., Martin, J. E., & Lovett, D. L. (2006). Why is this cake on fire? Inviting students into the IEP process. Teaching for Exceptional Children, 38, 42-47. (.pdf)

Martin, J., & Marshall, L. (1996). ChoiceMaker: Infusing self-determination instruction into the IEP and transition process. In D. J. Sands & M. Wehmeyer (Eds.), Self-determination across the lifespan: Independence and choice for people with disabilities (pp. 215-236). Paul Brooks Publishing Co. (.pdf)

Valenzuela, R. L., & Martin, J. E. (2005). Self-directed IEP: Bridging values of diverse cultures and secondary education. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 28, 4-14.

Martin, J. D., Martin, J. E., & Osmani, K. (2014). Teaching students to attain annual transition goals using the Take Action goal attainment lessons. Career Development and Transition for Exceptional Individuals, 37, 72-83. doi:10.1177/2165143413476544 (.pdf)

German, S. L., Martin, J. E., Marshall, L. H., & Sale, R. P. (2000). Promoting self-determination: Using Take Action to teach goal attainment. Career Development for Exceptional Individuals, 23, 27-38. (.pdf)