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Adapted Task Cards for Students with Multiple Disabilities

I know how challenging and time consuming it can be to find or create materials for students with significant or multiple disabilities. My students with limited mobility, speech delays and severe cognitive disabilities are quite a challenge in the classroom in that it is difficult to find meaningful, academic activities and experiences for them to engage in. I've created a few sets of adapted task cards that have the all the modifications built in. I love these because they are perfect for my students who use eye gaze or who need their answer choices presented further apart to be accurate.

I've included two sizes in each set. The larger size is perfect for students who have vision impairments. These task cards are great for emergent level learners who are working on basic skills but may not be able to read or write.

For students with limited mobility, students who need an alternative presentation or students who need an alternative way to respond to a task, print two sets of the task cards you are using. Cut up the answer choices from the second set and add hook Velcro to the backs. Present the task card and then present the answer choices on a separate board. This way, you can place the answer options further apart. Students can use eye gaze to select their answer or reach to touch the answer.
For students with more severe cognitive disabilities, I like to use task cards in this instructional sequence.

First, I use errorless instruction. After I've printed two sets of the task cards, I present the task card and the correct answer card. The student then just matches the correct answer to the card. 

Next, present the answer card and a blank card. This allows the student to discriminate between two choices. 

After this is mastered, you can present the answer card and an obvious distractor. For example, if you are doing shapes task cards, present one shape and one number. Next, I move to an array of 2 answers, one correct and another possible answer from the task card set. Finally, I would move to an array of 3 or greater, as the student is able.

I have my paras or peer tutors work with students using these task cards. First, they present the task card and ask the question. Next, they present the answer choices, depending on the student's level, as described in the instructional sequence above. I like to present the answer choices on a black felt board, like this. Students can touch their answer, look at their answer, or if able, can grab their answer and hand it to the teacher. I've also included smaller cards for direct matching.

You can grab the Adapted Task Cards Basics Bundle here or by clicking on the cover image below. Are there other skills you'd like to see? Leave me a comment or shoot me an email and let me know!

Math Centers in Special Education: The 3 Folder System

For math instruction in my self contained classroom, I have used several programs over the years. The last 3 years, I've been using Go Math with the majority of my students. You can read a little more about how I use it in this blog post. This post is going to go into detail about how I use rotations and centers during math instruction. 
*This post may contain affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no cost to you, if you make a purchase through a link.*

I group my students and I split the class period so that I can work with 2 groups per class period. This allows me time to provide instruction to each student, each day. As I'm working with one group, my other group is working independently or with para/peer tutor support on their math centers. I've tried several systems for centers and I'm loving this 3 folder system.

Modern Marble Classroom Theme: Inspiration & Decor

If you're going for a clean and crisp modern vibe in your classroom this year, check out these accents and decor items. These are all available on Amazon and go perfectly with the Modern Marble Classroom Decor line in my TpT store. Check out my favorites! This post contains affiliate links.

Data Sheet Master Binder

Data, data, data. I’ve tried many data organization systems in the past 6 years and I’m loving this new trick! Let me share my new favorite data organization tip with you! 

Warm & Sunny Watercolor Classroom Theme: Inspiration & Decor

This classroom color scheme is bright and welcoming for every grade level. Mint, mustard, coral and orange hues are a beautiful combination and white accents make it crisp and clean. If you're looking for a unique color scheme for your classroom, check out these Warm & Sunny classroom accents. This post contains affiliate links.

Weekly Staff Focus in a SPED Classroom

As teachers, we regularly post our student learning objectives. It guides our instruction and helps our students understand the focus of a lesson. Posting daily objectives has been a big thing in my school (and probably yours) for the last few years. I started thinking about how helpful it would be if my team could have an objective as well, something to focus on improving each week So last spring, I implemented a weekly staff focus. Each Monday, I post our focus on our staff board.

Language Arts Rotations in Special Education

When I first started teaching, I used a lot of Direct Instruction reading programs and they just weren't designed for the population I was teaching so I didn't see a lot of results. I needed something more, more hands on, more engaging, with more results. I also wanted to be the one providing the main instruction, instead of my paras or peer tutors, and when everyone was doing one on one D.I. programs for the whole class period, there was no way I could do that. Over the past few years, I've continually added and changed how language arts/reading instruction in my classroom looks and it's been an amazing change!

I use Language Arts rotations to teach reading, writing and spelling in my classroom. To do rotations like this, you will need a large chunk of time. I teach middle school and our class periods are 55 minutes. I do 2 class periods of language arts in order to fit in all of my rotations, 6 rotations at about 20 minutes each. There have been years where I've had less time, and if that's the situation you're in, I would recommend alternating days for rotations so that your students are not doing all 6 rotations on a day instead of cutting the time of your rotations. Here's what my rotations look like.

1. Reading Instruction- teacher led
2. Spelling Instruction- para led
3. Writing Instruction- teacher led
4. Word Work- independent/peer tutor support
5. Writing Center- independent/para/peer tutor support
6. Silent Reading- independent
Here's an idea of what our schedule looks like. You can see that Student 5 & 6 are one-on-one throughout the whole language arts block. I run the reading and writing instruction rotations and my paras run spelling instruction and support during work work and writing centers. Some trimesters, I've split up the Silent Reading block so I could fit in more reading groups, but I prefer to have all students doing Silent Reading at the same time, if possible. Obviously, the more students you have, the more complicated scheduling gets. I like to use post it notes to move everyone around when I'm trying to figure it out!

Let me go into detail about what each rotation looks like.

Reading Instruction: My reading instruction rotation varies depending on the student, their level, and their IEP goals. I like to use a guided reading model as much as possible. I highly recommend this book by Jan Richardson (affiliate link). I group students whenever possible for reading instruction. For curriculum, I use a combination of Reading A to Z, Corrective Reading, and novel studies/reading passages. Again, the program I'm using depends on the student's needs and their IEP goals.

During reading instruction rotations, I also take data on reading goals. For example, if a student has a reading comprehension goal, like determining main idea or answering wh- questions, I'll set aside 1-2 days a week to take a quick probe on their current objective. I use the reading rotation to actually teach the skill needed for the goal. So if I'm using Reading A to Z with a student who has a wh- question IEP goal, part of my instruction will include a review on how to answer each type of wh- question and I will also teach text comprehension strategies during this time.

For my emerging readers, I use lots of adapted books. For student's who are using AAC, I also like to use this time to model language on their system. Sometimes I have students who are working on reading sight words so I use the reading instruction block for sight word instruction. I love using Reading in Real Life for this! Check it out here.
Reading in Real Life Mini Books

Reading in Real Life Units

Spelling Instruction: 
My spelling instruction rotation is almost always run by my paraprofessionals. This is another rotation that I will group students whenever possible. For spelling instruction, I use the program Signs for Sounds. I love this program and highly recommend it! It teaches spelling patterns and rules and doesn't make students memorize a list each week. In addition, it includes a sight word for each week and students take a dictation test for each lesson where they write the words that fit the spelling pattern in sentences. I love this because the generalization is already built in. Signs for Sounds has a great assessment that I give at the beginning of the year. For my students who may not be learning to spell or ready for phonics based instruction, I use a functional spelling program from School Bells n Whistles.

Functional Spelling by School Bells n' Whistles

Signs for Sounds Spelling

Writing Instruction:
Writing instruction is one of the only times I do whole class instruction in my classroom. We do writing in a week long format. It usually starts with a mini lesson & group brainstorming on Day 1, modeling on Day 2, students actually writing on Day 3, editing and expanding on Day 4 and sharing our writing on Day 5. I have a blog post coming soon with more details about how I incorporate writing instruction into my classroom!

Word Work: Working independently is one of my main goals for all of my students. A word work rotation is a great time to practice independent work skills. I have a shoe box bin for each student and this is their designated word work bin. They are responsible for going and getting it off the shelf and completing the activities inside of it. Each student's bin has enough work for the whole week and every Friday, one of my para's reset the boxes and put in new work for the next week. In each word work bin, I include activities that align with the student's previously mastered skills. Over the years I have collected tons of center & work task activities so it's super easy to pull different things and throw them in. I like to include a phonics task, a sight words task and a reading comprehension task.
Word Work Storage

Here are some of my favorites from TpT:
The Designer Teacher Phonics Centers by Design 
Miss Lulu Work Tasks for Secondary Students: Alphabet & Phonics
Tara West Literacy & Math Centers
Tara West Endless Mega Bundles
Especially Education Hands on CVC Bundle
Jodi Sutherland Comprehension Notebook
Language Arts Morning Work
Mrs. D's Corner Adapted Books

Writing Center: The writing center rotation is another time that student's work on independent task completion. They each have a writing folder and during the writing center rotation, they complete a writing activity or prompt. This is a time to practice writing, not teach new skills.

I use these activities from TpT for Writing Centers:
Miss Lulu Errorless Sentence Helpers
Breezy Special Ed Differentiated Journals
Tara West Writing Centers
You Aut-A Know Paragraph Writing Journals

Writing Center Area

Silent Reading:
 This is one of the best things I've ever implemented in my classroom, no joke. I wish I had started it my first year. During this rotation, students just read. They can read whatever they want, where ever they want, and they have no assignment or expectation afterwards. They just read. And guess what, reading for leisure is a life skill! Many of my students prefer audio books so they will listen to a book during this time. Some students read chapter books, some students read picture books, sometimes students grab adapted books. I don't care what or how they read as long as they are reading something. My paraprofessionals support my students who are non-readers during this time. We also love to use Epic, which is a free app that has tons of books. I've also paid for Amazon Free Time before, which is a very inexpensive option that has tons of books & audio books. For 20 minutes each day, students are engaged in reading something that is interesting to them. Another important part of this rotation is that the teachers are also reading. It's important to model to students so whatever adults in the room that are not supporting students are reading their own book.

Starting up a system like this can seem overwhelming, and it definitely can be at first. It takes time to teach students how to rotate and what to do during each rotation. I've done 2 back to back class periods for this before but I've also made it work by using one class period in the morning and one in the afternoon. Another important thing to remember is that each student doesn't have to go to the rotations in the same order or at the same time. Arrange the schedule so that it works for you. Change it if you need to. Use visual schedules for your students to help them understand where to be and what to be doing. Questions? I'd love to help! Leave a comment or shoot me an email!

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