One of my favorite resources from The Autism Helper are the File Folder sets that correlate with the Daily Leveled Curriculums. Let me first say that if you are struggling with finding appropriate curriculums for your classroom, check these out. I’m a huge fan of The Autism Helper’s Curriculums. They come in a variety of levels (I highly suggest the bundles that include multiple levels so you can move students up as they are ready). There are resources for math, science, social studies, language arts, and functional language. Many of these curriculums have extensions available in the form of task cards and file folders. Just like the curriculums, the file folders cover a variety of levels, so it’s likely that everyone in your classroom will benefit from this one resource. How often can you say that?! I’ve used these file folders in the classroom for two years now, in a variety of ways. I used to limit myself when I would think about how to use resources like file folders in the classroom, but not anymore. Here’s three different ways I utilize the file folders in my classroom.
Using file folders for independent work is likely how most of us use file folders, but it’s one of the most important skills we teach. If you are looking into getting started with an independent work station, start with these file folders! All of the work is done for you and you are ready to go with the materials. Create a system for students to complete their file folders and start teaching expectations for independent work. You can read more about how I set up independent work stations by color coding here.
You can turn pretty much anything into a turn taking exercise. If you’ve got students who are struggling with turn taking, try using file folders! It’s an easy to pull activity where no one wins. Students who also struggle with work avoidance will also love this since someone else is doing half the work! I love teaching things like turn taking in an environment where I have as much control as possible, which is often in my classroom. After the skill is solid in my environment, I’ll start increasing the difficulty of the skill and start pushing the skill into other environments (the goal with skills is always generalization!). I start with something that isn’t preferred then work my way up to sharing preferred items. I often pull two or three students and start working on these skills as a group. Let your more seasoned students model for your newer students and help teach routine and expectation when turn taking, too!
Whole or Small Group
I know, I know… you probably think I’m crazy. Just hear me out. Teaching in a whole group is likely very difficult in your classroom if it’s anything like mine. Consider trying to use file folders to teach whole or small group. I do this with science and social studies, especially. We do the daily leveled curriculum, then we use the file folders as extensions or in center rotations. I had a huge goal this past year of teaching my students how to learn in a whole group. I started with file folders. I prepped 10 of the exact same file folders, everyone got one and I used my document projector hooked up to my Promethean Board to have students follow along as we talked about the file folder and completed it. The skills that came from this were huge! Listening skills, staying with the group, visually attending, were all skills addressed. One day I even got brave and had a few students try to check each other’s work.
I feel like so often we throw money at different items in our classroom to just see if they will work. I rolled my eyes at file folders for a long time, thinking it was tool that was out-dated. I was truly missing out. Once I opened my eyes to the possibilities that file folders gave me and the skills I could teach my students, I was hooked. I started on a mission to find file folders worthy of my classroom. I wanted skills that were directly related to what I was teaching in the classroom and that covered a variety of levels so every student in my room could benefit. I also wanted something that was worth the money I was spending. Those green folders? That’s just the Math Level 1 File Folder set. All of those file folders came in just ONE set, leveled, easily prepped, and directly related to my curriculum. Without a doubt, The Autism Helper’s file folders are one of the best investments I’ve made for my classroom.