Organizing all of your little PECs Icons can be a challenge in any special education program. At the end of the day, those icons can be found everywhere in the classroom. Finding a simple storage system to make setting up schedules, communication books and activities a breeze is imperative to making it functional for any teacher. Consider purchasing an organizer like this one to organize by image. This can be found in the art section of most craft stores.
I have LOOTS of monthly goodies. I store all of my monthly decorations, adapted books, stories, interactive activities and seasonal activities in large tubs. I label the tubs and store them up high and out of reach. At the end of each month I can easily pull the tub down and put the old away and take out the new.
I store all of our sensory goodies in a rolling bin in the front of the room. I have the drawers labeled as: sensory balls, sensory bottles and sensory fidgets. These are easy to find when needed for a kiddo!
I store all of outside toys and bubbles in a wagon. This makes it SUPER easy to roll out for recess and outdoor play time. My students are able to take the wagon out on their own and be independent which is the ultimate goal in everything we do!
I am very lucky to have lockers in my room. Students store their belongings in their labeled locker every morning!. They store backpacks, jackets and lunches.
When students come in in the morning they put their homework folders in the homework folder basket. Each student has a drawer with their name on it where we put work and things that need to go home. This makes for packing up at the end of the day super easy!
In the second set of drawers I store all of my paperwork that we need often: self-care request, nurse slips, weekly communication sheets, daily communication sheets, health aide forms, behavior data
Tomorrow is the LAST day to discuss classroom organization! Be sure to come back and check it out :)
Organization is the key to a successful special education program. By having an organized classroom it will reduce stress for staff and students. By spending the time and effort to organize your program before the school year starts, you will save tons of time throughout the school year preparing for each day. Organization is IMPERATIVE for success.
Also at the red table I have a TEACCH Binder system implemented. The Binder Work system was designed to create a systematic routine system for students to work independently on already mastered skills that they learn at the math, reading, and writing centers.
Math is SUCH a complex subject to teach to any child. When you add in sensory processing disorders, speech and language delays, visual impairments and outright behaviors, it makes math THAT much more complex. Most store curriculums only provide 20 pages of practice on one skill before it gets more challenging. This does NOT work for my students, as some students may be working on the same skill for 6 months, or even 2 years. To overcome this challenge I designed my own leveled math curriculum for students with special needs.
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Reading is such an important skill to teach students. It is also one of the most challenging because students are most often reading at all different levels. Students working on matching pictures vs. students working on comprehension questions of the 4th grade text is hard to manage at the same time. It is important to have student groups managed by level to make it easier. It is important to jot down all IEP goals so you can be certain you are meeting each students goals. All reading takes place at the green center during the afternoon work centers.
Writing is the most challenging subject in my class. My students DESPISE writing. I developed my own writing curriculum to help meet the needs and differentiate for all of my students varying abilities. I have designed 7 different levels to target each child in your classroom.. I have created 180 days worth of instruction! For all 180 days there are seven differentiated levels so that students can progress towards independence yet work as a class on the same subject at their OWN level!
I get a lot of questions about the curriculum I use in my classroom. It is so hard to have a simple answer because I use SO many strategies and curriculums. I pick and choose from the best and adapt most to meet my students needs.
Small sensory toys/fidgets can make the biggest difference in a students day. By introducing small sensory toys to a students work routine, the child may be better able to regulate their emotions. Students can carry around a sensory toy, work for a sensory toy or take breaks with a sensory toy depending on the child’s individual needs.
What do you do with those extra fidgety students? A great tool can be an individualized sensory box that can be stored in their desk. Using a plastic box with al id, store some of the students favorite sensory items in it. Create picture icons of each item inside the box and attach it to the lid with velcro. Allow students to request an item when needed.
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(These are the tools I use to create my classroom materials)
Organization is key- so creating a sensory corner is a great way to store all of your sensory equipment so that it is easily assessable for the students and staff! The equipment can be large and bulky if not properly stored.. It can also get in the way if it is out in the open.
For the students that are sensory seeking, try adding a “sensory corner” icon to their schedule every hour. It is a great way to integrate sensory into their schedule and to help regulate their behaviors that may impede their learning without the sensory break!
Sensory diets are a tool used and designed to meet a child individual sensory needs. If you have your students sensory needs in balance- behaviors will be much better managed. Sensory diets are a simple planned sensory routine that is embedded within their normal routine.0
Simply put (in teacher terms), sensory processing disorder is a condition that affects the way a person responds to different things within the environment Their brain is unable to process their surroundings appropriately. Here are some examples in the school setting that may affect a child with sensory processing disorder: crowded hallways, bright lights, smelly food, and gooey art supplies.0
Toilet training older students can be a challenge in the school setting. One of the best tools is to decorate the restroom with visuals to help the child understand the bathroom routine.
Augmentative and Alternative Communication (AAC), Picture Exchange Communication System (PECS), social skills
Teaching communication for wants and needs is important- but we must build upon this. Some students learn, “I want…” and that’s it. We must build upon the skills each student has and push them to communicate more! Here are a few different activities you can do.
Singing Songs on Communication Devices
(simply input lyrics ahead of time!)
Communicating During Snack Break
I love to facilitate communication during snack. It is one of the most “desired” times of our school day- so why not turn it into a functional communication activity! The rule during snack is, “If you want it- ask for it.” Here are the different methods of communication we use- other than our voice1
How To Set Up A PECS Book
PEC’s is a great system for communication. Once your student has progressed through the beginning stages of PEC’s it is time to introduce a sentence strip to build full sentence communication. Simply follow the steps below to make your own PECs book!
Using One PEC ICON to request a preferred item/Activity
Teaching Communication is my top priority in the school setting. One of my favorite ways to integrate communication is for some of the most preferred items in my classroom. I add icons throughout the room in special locations to teach students to request independently. An example is shown below:
This visual was created to provide visual support to students who have
difficulties regulating their volumes and voices throughout the school day.
I also use three visual flash cards to provide a non-verbal prompt to the students when they are being too noisy!
I love to use first/then cards. They are a great visual to aide students to understand the sequence of their day. It is also a good motivator for students to “work first/then play”
INDIVIDUALIZED BEHAVIOR SUPPORTS
There are so many visuals that you can find and apply to your students in your classroom. However, you must always put your students needs first. Not all visuals are a “one size fits all” model. With this being said, here are a few examples of individualized behavior visuals that I have created.
One of my favorite behavior management strategies is the use of social stories. I like to create simple, easy to read stories that address basic behavioral management strategies.
WORKING CARDSI utilize visual working cards for my students all day! The simple visual can help a student participate in the classroom routine along with their peers with little to no disruptions. Depending on the child and their needs will determine how often you token the child to allow them to earn their breaks./preferred item. The goal should be to reduce the amount of breaks within the day and to allow them to eventually be successful without a working card.
My two calm downkits currently contain all of the behavior visuals I need for my students behavioral needs. Both have tools and visuals to meet the needs of aggressive, angry and frustrated students. Read the next few pages to see what all is included.