Differentiation in a General Education Classroom: Work at the Table

Differentiation in a general education classroom does take a lot of planning and prep, but don’t panic! Once we differentiate and create materials and resources, we save them for when another learner can benefit from using the same materials, even in school years in the future. This post will discuss differentiation ideas within the classroom while working on table work, whether it be independent or small groups! 

Teaching is never one size fits all. Using these resources for our learners as individuals takes time, however, it is the way that we teach our learners and recognize them as individuals. It takes teamwork! Some of the following supports and strategies will help implementation of differentiated table work and increase learner success and independence. 

  • Designated space with visual boundaries. I have used color coded gym tape on the floor to help a learner visualize what work needs to be done in which space of the classroom. 
  • Timers help a learner understand how long they have to complete work or how long they wilt be in a small group with us before they will return to a preferred activity. Some of my favorite visual timers can be found on these numbered links below!
  1. Learning resource timer
  2. Rainbow timer
  3. Multifunction stopwatch timer
  4. Multi time limit sand timers
  5. Red, yellow, green visual timer
  • Mini schedules, work task systems, and task strips help to encourage a learner by visually showing them what needs to be done before moving on to the next.
  • The autism helper waiting visuals are very helpful when teaching a learner to wait before, during, and after work.
  • The Autism Helper Executive functions toolkit and masterclass include all we need to help teaching our learners about emotional control, response inhibition, working memory, and so much more to help with engaging with work at the table! 
  • Programming and goals for a learner that focus on being ready by showing a calm body, hands down, and eyes watching before touching materials and stimuli that are presented.
  • Modified work is necessary when teaching independence at the table and teaching learners to engage in tasks without help and show them that they can be successful without becoming prompt dependent. The Autism Helper curriculum can be implemented based on a learner’s needs and skills.

How do we know what a learner needs?

Just like in my post about differentiating learning stations, analyzing a learner’s data is the way that we can see what a learner knows and what skills they may need to be taught. The resources that I share below are large resources, If I am not using the whole assessment for an evaluation and rather using them for baseline data or progress monitoring, I pull out the sections that match the learning objectives within the classroom to then see what a learner may need.

  1. ABLLS Resources
  2. VB-MAPP Resources
  3. Informal Reading Assessment Toolkit
  4. Data Sheets for progress monitoring


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