Top Tips for Community Based Instruction

I will admit, when I first started teaching, taking my students into the community made me so nervous! Now, we go out all the time and community based instruction is one of my favorite things about my job. A while back, I wrote about the benefits of CBI (with a freebie!) here. Today, I want to share my top tips for making community based instruction a successful experience for everyone involved.


1. Set clear expectations and goals, for students and staff. This may seem obvious, but it took me awhile to figure it out. Before we go out, we talk about the location, the goal of the trip and the rules. We create practice opportunities within our school day. Then, when it's time to go out into the community, students and staff know what to focus on. 

2. Assess and collect data. CBI is not just a field trip. It should be part of your curriculum, and  should includes data collection and assessment. 

3. Focus on increasing independence for each student, regardless of ability level. Moving teaching into the community requires a plan. Think about the skills that can be generalized to many settings. Students are more likely to increase independence of these skills that can be practiced at every community location. Create a plan for independence, including your instructional strategy and how you will fade prompts. This will of course be individualized. One student may be working on making a purchase at a store, and another student may be working on greetings. 

4. Choose age appropriate locations. CBI is appropriate for all ages, but the teacher should choose locations where individuals who are close in age to the students are going. You want students to connect with their same age peers, which will increase recreational opportunities and be more meaningful. 

5. Send home activities and skills that students can do with their parents to help reinforce what you are doing at school and in the community. Some examples-

  • Reading the menu or ordering their own meal at a restaurant the next time the family goes out to eat
  • Making a grocery list of needed items
  • Calling to find out movie times or make appointments

Make sure you grab my free planning form in this post and get planning! Remember, CBI is more than a field trip, but can still be just as fun!

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