Friday, October 16, 2015

Visual Mini-Schedules

I am sure if you have been around a special education teacher, parent or in a special education classroom you have heard or seen visual schedules. Visuals are a powerful tool and help with behavior management, academic performance, establishing routines and independence.

Think about how many visuals we have in our lives; calendars, sticky-notes, emails etc. There are hundreds of visuals we see throughout our day to help us process information. It is no different when in a classroom....especially when students with special needs are present.

In my classroom we use a wide range of visuals including class visual schedules, individual daily schedules, center rotations, supply box labels etc. Here is a picture of one of our daily wall schedules.

The visual I want to dive into today are mini-schedules. I use these all of the time throughout my day. A mini-schedule breaks down a broad topic into smaller more defined tasks. Some students need to know exactly what you mean when you say (or their schedule says) reading.

What does that mean, look like etc. Here is a picture of a reading mini-schedule I use with one of my students.

I will admit I do not use these for all of my students. Some of my kiddos are perfectly fine with their schedule saying reading and then me telling them what we are doing throughout the lesson. However, some of my kids need more structure. Having a mini-schedule in front of them allows them to see exactly what is expected from them, approximately how long it will take and whether or not a break/reinforcer is in their future.

So how do they work? I think about my student first and how much they need the task broken down. Some of my kids are okay with their mini schedule small with only 2-4 tasks being pictured. While other students need more of an outline (like the picture above).

After you set the mini-schedule for the lesson you have prepared be sure to state what you are doing. That way the kids can reference their schedule. You may have to give additional prompts by pointing or saying we are now working on the first step of your schedule etc.

Once you have completed that task have your student take off the first task.

I have my students store the completed tasks on the back. It is a quick way to "make it disappear" and you are less likely to lose the pieces.

The students flip their schedule back over and you repeat. Do this until your lesson is over.

Make sure to extend these great tools into other parts of your school. Look how this mini-schedule is set up for art.

When the students are finished they put their pieces in the envelope.

Since this schedule will most likely be outside of your classroom you could store all of the extra pieces on the back of the construction paper.

In closing, mini-schedules have really helped teach independence and functional life skills in my classroom. Instead of answering the question "what's next" over and over I just refer them to their mini-schedule. 

The kids also take ownership of their schedules and they are proud of them. I love over hearing my students say "check your schedule" or "my schedule will tell me". 

You can check out my mini-schedule pack here! There are schedules for reading, writing, math, P.E, music, art and a "general" schedule. 

Do you think mini-schedules would be helpful for students in your classroom?

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