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How To Move Past Simple Matching To Higher Level Instruction

Matching and imitation are great beginning skills, but as special educators we need to make sure that we don't let our students get stuck at that level. Here are some tips on getting started on instruction that will lead to higher level skills.

Matching and imitation are great beginning skills, but as special educators we need to make sure that we don't let our students get stuck at that level. Here are some tips on getting started on instruction that will lead to higher level skills.
             photo credit: Worth A Thousand Words

There is a place and time to work on matching with students, BUT it can't end there. Students with disabilities need MORE instruction, not less. It doesn't matter what level your students are at (even moderate to severely disabled) or what their disability is, they still need instruction that helps them move past matching.


Start Slow & Build Up

Students who are at the early learning stage will most likely need their instruction to be on a one to one basis (at least to begin with). It can also be a very short time. For example, 3 to 7 minutes of direct instruction on letters before the student moves on to another activity or reinforcement. As the student shows the ability to attend and learns more skills, increase the amount of instruction time. Make sure that you are starting slow so that the student is successful.


Plan For Barrier Behaviors

Many of our students have had negative experiences during instructional times. Make sure you have a plan on how to keep the student's attention and to help the student feel successful. I highly recommend making sure that you have paired or established a bond with the student prior to setting up direct instructional times. This relationship is essential in establishing instructional control with students. 




Have Powerful Reinforcers

When you begin stretching students' skills past simple matching, you are going to want to have really strong reinforcers in place. Powerful reinforcers will help students work past their dislike or disinterest in what you are trying to teach them.





Have A Variety Of Instructional Materials

Our students learn at a much slower rate than their typically developing peers. They need more repetition and need hands on tasks in order to learn. My students need new information presented to them in a way that breaks down abstract concepts into more manageable and understandable segments. I then take the first segment and teach that small part to mastery. Once students have mastered that small segment, I add in the next small segment. This process builds in the review my students need of the first segment and keeps most of the practice be with known materials.... that leads students to be and FEEL successful. When my students feel successful, they stay on task better and have less behaviors during instruction. WIN!!!

My students need more practice and repetition than traditional curriculum offer. They need more visuals, hands on tasks and extra materials targeting the same skill in different ways in order to learn, master and generalize the skill. I tend to use theme units and hands on math materials in my instruction. These already have the visuals I need to introduce and teach a concept as we as the tasks my students need in order to practice and generalize the skills. Win!!




When gathering the materials you are going to use in your instruction, make sure that the practice tasks truly target the same skill you have been targeting during instruction. Also keep in mind how your student does with generalizing. If your student has a hard time generalizing skills, then only change one thing at a time in practice tasks. For example, use the materials from instruction in a different color.


Don't limit Instruction To Core Subjects

Students who need instruction broken down to this extent in order to learn, will also need skills outside of core subjects broken down as well. For example, life skills and language skills will often need to be systematically targeted. 




Don't forget to plan for review of mastered skills. Here is a blog post with more info on how to do that. Just click on the picture to read more about the topic.




Have a plan for instruction and review of skills and your students WILL progress. Just keep in mind that our students tend to progress slowly... be sure to celebrate every gain!!


Matching and imitation are great beginning skills, but as special educators we need to make sure that we don't let our students get stuck at that level. Here are some tips on getting started on instruction that will lead to higher level skills.




Direct Instruction Hacks For Special Education Classrooms

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.


In my classroom. we set aside an hour a day to do direct instruction centers. During this time, we take data on IEP goals and core skills. Here area some of ideas that make our time go smoothly.

Data Storage System

It is important to have a system for storing your data sheets that is accessible and meet short and long term needs. On a day to day basis we use folders and binders to take data during direct instruction. For me, I use a binder that is divided into sections. There is a section for each student. 

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.

The first page of the binder is my cheat sheet for how often I pull the students to work one on one with me during work centers. I also keep track of when I pull students at this time for testing, when I'm at meetings, students are out, etc. Here is a close up of one of our data sheets. You can download a free copy of the data sheet HERE.

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.


When students are working with me during direct instruction centers, they are at a center that is run by one of my teaching assistants. Since they are working with 2 to 3 students at a time and taking data on all of the students, they keep their data sheets in folders. Folders allow them to keep track of each student's data sheets easily. Each center's folders are a different color to make it easy to review data and return folders to centers quickly. 
Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.



Transition Signal

Have a way to signal the end of the direct instruction center to limit distractions. If one center stops working and goes into reinforcement before another center, then they become a distraction to students who are still working. In my classroom, I use a bell to signal when all of our centers finish working. I keep it on the small table that I do direct instruction at. I also keep a pennies (for our behavior system), crayons, pencils, dry erase markers and glue sticks so I don't have to get up from instruction.

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.



Organized Materials

Have a system for keeping all of your needed direct instruction materials together. If you have to get up from the table, you will automatically lose students' attention. I keep my materials in a rolling cart. I like that I can wheel the cart around and be flexible in where I work with students. Here is a peek into a drawer. I try to have a variety of materials on hand so I can target generalization.

Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.


In the other drawers, I keep writing paper, hands on tasks, language boosting tasks, visuals, etc.  Here are some examples of the tasks in my other drawers. Click on the pictures for a closer look at each task.










Direct instruction is a crucial component of special education programs. Our students require direct instruction in order to learn, master and generalize skills. Here are some tips to help make your direct instruction time easier.


How To Use Interactive Posters To Build Concepts And Language

My kiddos need LOTS of hands on activities in order to learn new concepts. Interactive posters are great for seasonal or theme concepts that you can use year after year. Adding in language building components with these posters is super easy... WIN!


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Use interactive posters to keep students engaged, build language and cover core topics. These ideas are perfect for special education classrooms, speech therapy and early elementary classes.

Like interactive books, my students LOVE interactive posters! They are naturally more attentive and focused because of all of the hands on opportunities. Here are some of the ways that we use interactive posters during our plants and garden unit


Here is the poster (below) we use to work on plant parts and the associated vocabulary. After you have gone over the different parts of the plant and the vocabulary, you are able to add in some receptive and expressive tasks. 


Use interactive posters to keep students engaged, build language and cover core topics. These ideas are perfect for special education classrooms, speech therapy and early elementary classes.


Each part is laminated and attached with Velcro, so you can individualize the poster for students. You can change the difficulty by adjusting how many pieces the student needs to put up on the poster.

Examples of the language tasks we do with this poster:

  *Hand out all of the parts of a poster to the students. Ask questions such as, "Who as a leaf?" or "Who has the plant part that goes underground?"

  *Keep students engaged when it isn't their turn by asking students questions about peers. For example, "Who put the stem up?"


With the poster below, we worked on the process from seed to plant. Again, each piece of the poster is laminated and attached by Velcro. This poster is great because you can work on a variety of skills: ordinal numbers, sequencing, comprehension, etc. 

Use interactive posters to keep students engaged, build language and cover core topics. These ideas are perfect for special education classrooms, speech therapy and early elementary classes.


These posters are fairly easy to make and pair nicely with our interactive books. As a bonus, they offer SOOOO many opportunities to practice language while still targeting core concepts.


Here are the materials we use to make the interactive posters:


                           




Use interactive posters to keep students engaged, build language and cover core topics. These ideas are perfect for special education classrooms, speech therapy and early elementary classes.




How To Incorporate Multi-Sensory Math Tasks Into Your Classroom

Multi-sensory tasks are engaging and naturally gain students' attention. Adding multi-sensory activities into your math centers can help students persevere and focus on learning.

Learn how to add multi-sensory tasks into math centers with ease. Here are tips and resources that will help you create math centers for different learning styles that will engage all of your students. These ideas are ideal for special education classrooms, students with autism, hands on learners and early elementary classrooms.


Multi-sensory activities are the perfect way to build in practice and review of introduced skills... a crucial part of guided math. This is the third and final post of Smashing Strategies For Guided math, a monthly link-up between 9 teacher bloggers. Each of us will share guided math strategies, tips and resources. Here are link to the other 2 posts in the series in case you haven't seen them:



On to today's topic...


Let's start with what multi-sensory means. This refers to presenting the tasks in different modalities. There are 4 main sensory learner styles: visual, auditory, tactile and movement. Adding math tasks to your centers that target these different learning styles will help all of your students learn and engage with the materials. Here are some examples of different center activities that address each learner style.

Tactile

Add in opportunities for students to get their hands on the task and using different materials. Here are 2 different ways:

Shaving cream gives a lot of tactile input! You could also use finger paint, playdoh or make finger prints with ink.



Another option is to add in a fine motor component:





Movement

Movement centers are my fave! There is a ton of research on how beneficial movement is to the brain and learn. We do a lot of  these types of centers. Here are a few hits in my classroom:

Count the room.... We do it for each theme unit because it is a HUGE hit! I love it because the it targets math, gets students writing and puts them in different positions. They love it because it i fun!!




Add gross motor and academics! Read more about it HERE.



Visual

Most of our centers contain a visual component. Here are some tasks that we use during centers that are visually based:




Auditory

This one combines movement, auditory and tactile. Here students had to listen for a number, run up and squirt the correct floating number. They LOVED it!! Read more about this center HERE.




There are TONS of ideas for adding multi-sensory activities into your math instruction and centers. As a bonus... your students will love it!!

****Don't forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of the post!!!


Learn how to add multi-sensory tasks into math centers with ease. Here are tips and resources that will help you create math centers for different learning styles that will engage all of your students. These ideas are ideal for special education classrooms, students with autism, hands on learners and early elementary classrooms.


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