This summer I attended a workshop focused on strategies to help special needs students succeed in the mainstream classroom. It turns out that a lot of the suggestions they are helpful to all students because they help keep the classroom focused, which in itself is a great life lesson to learn in a FACS classroom. I’m hoping to share some of the lessons I learned over the next few weeks…
Strategy One: Classroom Structure and Routines
- Start with an activity – such as something out of the 5 Minute Food & Nutrition Activities book. While students are doing the activity you to take attendance and to speak with any students you need to talk with one-on-one. This will also help students to focus and to get ready for the day’s work in your class.
- Post the learning activities that you will be doing in class that day on the whiteboard. You can check them off as you complete each activity. If you are really organized you can list the amount of time you plan to spend on each activity.
- Be explicit with explainations and model the structure of what you want the students to do. Have a quick list on the board of what they are to do. For example in a sewing class you might say, “Have one student from your table walk to the shears cabinet and pick up your assigned shears, have the second student come to the front table and pick up a needle for each group member and one spool of thread, and have the third person go to the fabric table and get a small piece of cloth for each member.” Meanwhile, walk to the shears cabinet, walk to the table and then to the fabric area.” You may also want to review safety, for example, “When I see the person from your table getting the shears, what should I observe as they walk back to your table?”
- Use a visual timer when using a timed activity. There are some cool websites that have stop watches that you can project on your screen from the computer. Do a computer search for “Classroom Timer” to pick your favorite. (I would avoid using ones that are graphically explosive.)
- Write the name of any students who are absent on the board when you take attendance. That way if the student really is in class or has come into class late they will see that you have marked them as absent and can correct the information.
What are some strategies you use to maintain a consistent schedule in your classes? What are some classroom structures and routines you have that you would like to share? I look forward to hearing from you!