5 Tools To Build Independence In The Classroom

Categories: Resources

Building Independence

Building independence in the classroom is one of the most important jobs we have as teachers. When teaching independence with academic tasks, there are several go-to items I use from The Autism Helper. Here are 5 tools I use to build independence in the classroom.

Leveled Daily Curriculum

First, I can’t tell you about all of the items I use without mentioning Leveled Daily Curriculums. I can’t stop sharing these awesome resources. As specialists, we are often creating everything necessary to meet our student’s unique needs. Leveled Daily Curriculums take all of that off my plate so I can focus on teaching. They are worth every penny. So many of the items I use for independent work are extra components of leveled daily curriculums, like math task boxes or file folders that correlate to the curriculum we are using. These curriculums are such a huge help to our classroom!

File Folders

Call me old school, but I still love a good file folder activity! Nothing beats hands on, and these are the best! I absolutely love these from The Autism Helper. When teaching independence, each student has their own leveled file folders, customized to their IEP goals or where they are performing independently with leveled daily curriculum. It’s important to pick tasks that have already been mastered, so students can do them without assistance. Visuals are a huge help, too! We have a basket for each student to complete, and a place to turn them in when they are finished. Due to COVID, we don’t share materials. This means I’ve had to prep several duplicates, but I’m sure I’ll continue using them through the years. 

Task Cards

Task cards are also a favorite of mine. I love how versatile they can be. Some of my all time favorites are the ABLLS task cards. Let me tell you, they took me an entire summer to prep, it’s such a huge resource. I’m absolutely in love with how I can have student maintain skills through these cards. Having students continue using them once the skill is mastered can be a way to teach independence, too. In my classroom each student has their own task box filled with task cards individualized just for them. These cards are done independently, then staff reviews the tasks with the student after completion for feedback. 

Adapted Books

Using adapted books is another tool to use! Find a book that focuses on a previously mastered skill had have your students read and complete the book. I love that so many of these books are digital as well. This helps me meet the needs of my remote and in-person learners without sharing materials. I’m currently using the Christmas set in my classroom with my in person kiddos, while my remote learners are doing the same books, just the digital version with me on our Zoom calls. I’ve even had my remote and in person learners do these at the same time to help facilitate social language while completing them!

Leveled Daily Homework

There is nothing better than a print and go resource. Leveled Daily Homework is just that, and the best part is that it helps extend independence at home. I absolutely love coaching parents and helping them set their children up for success. If you want to know more about my homework mantra, check out my blog post on the topic. I think building independence at home is so important! I love helping parents see the success their child experiences at school in the home environment. 

Interactive Work

These Interactive Work books are what showed me how teaching independence would change my classroom. In fact, one year, it Saved My Classroom. No joke. Especially with a year full of COVID restrictions, we all see how important independence is to help keep a safe distance. These interactive books are a great starting point. 


Keep Going

No matter how you approach independent work, you need to keep going and working towards independence with tasks. It’s our job as a teacher to work our way out of a job. I want nothing more for my students than to teach them to no longer need my support, to be able to advocate for themselves, and function in a general education classroom without me. Some students may not be ready for big tasks like the one listed, and that’s okay (see this blog post for more ideas)! But keep pushing towards the goal, meeting kids where they are at. Even if it takes years to get there, the end goal of independence is worth every minute of effort put in. 

Jen Koenig, B.S, M.Ed., LBS1
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