In our classrooms, the first few weeks can be rough.

New schedules, new routines, new lunches, new everything. It’s not something that comes easy for kids who thrive on routine. Those first few weeks can be rough, especially for kiddos transitioning into your program. I won’t lie, I’ve been on the struggle bus! Keeping up with behaviors and transitions from the students entering my program has been difficult. The one thing saving my classroom right now is independent work!

Independent Work Binders

While dealing with all the behaviors and transitions that come with new students, I wanted to keep the rest of my class moving and functional. I did this with Independent Work Binders. Each kiddo has two binders for independent work, one for math and one for reading. To make these, I grabbed a few resources from The Autism Helper, printed them on card stock, laminated and velcroed and we were done. My staff and I had these prepped in just two short days. 

Level one covers letter identification, tracing letters, and matching letters. 

Level two is great for learners working on nouns and verbs, alphabetical order, and rhyming. 

Parts of speech, antonyms, and initial/final digraph are no mach for level 3 learners! 

Have learners all over the place? Me too. This is totally the way to go – have all 3 levels ready to go so students can grow with the independent work you’ve got!

Level 1 works towards counting, tracing shapes and numbers, and sorting coins!

Level 2 focuses on skip counting, fractions, and finishing the pattern. 

Level 3 is perfect for students working on coin combinations, finding the missing number, and drawing the hands on a clock when given a time. 

The bundle will have you covered for years to come! No matter the learners, you’ll be covered with purchasing all 3 levels of math!

What about students who aren’t ready?

I’m a firm believer that independent work can be done at any level. The Autism Helper has you covered with matching and errorless tasks. Check out how I use them in my room! For this resource, check out this link! These daily workbooks are GOLD for my learners who still need matching and errorless learning tasks!

Independent work matters!

Independent work is the perfect thing to have students do next to you while you are teaching a lesson, running DTT/ABA, or a fluency station. Have two or more students on the same level? Have them self check their work! Teach them to share their answers and see if they got the same thing or a different answer, then problem solve as to which answer is correct. Have a paraprofessional who needs to be running a station and you are stumped on what to plan? Give her an independent work station! Every single one of my students is successful in independent work.

A few things I keep in mind when starting independent work:

1. Don’t pick an instructional level for independent work! You want independent work something that students can do successfully on their own. 

2. It’s OK to pick and choose from skills across levels. Some of my students are pros at clocks and are still working on tracing. That’s OK! That’s exactly why I purchase the bundle for each skill set! I customize each binder to meet student needs.

3. Don’t expect students to know what to do without you teaching and modeling it! Independent work fails most often when a student is just handed a task and not taught how to complete it. Independent work needs to be intentionally taught. Slowly back out of your prompting and get students successful over time. Independent work doesn’t happen over night!

If you are struggling – you are not alone! Independent work is your ticket to freedom!

By getting kids started on independent work you are going to free time and your staff for you to work on expectations, provide a reinforcing environment for students, and be available to help manage student behaviors. Your chaotic classroom will slow-down, and you’ll move from just surviving the day to finding time in the day to teach again. The expectations you set now are only going to help you as you work through the school year. 

Jen Koenig

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