Some of the most useful types of visual schedules I’ve used with a variety of students are schedules, step charts and stories for teaching procedures of an activity. The example I wanted to share with you today is for teaching procedures in a fire drill. I first use a fire drill social story to teach what is going to happen and what is expected of the students during the fire drill. The story I use is available at TeachersPayTeachers.com in my store. I also use what I call a step chart that shows the major steps of what happens during a fire drill. This puts all the steps on one page so it’s easy to see at a glance. It’s easy to use during a fire drill to prompt the students of what will be next. I have found that many times, if they know what will come next, they have less anxiety.
I am very excited to introduce you to my guest blogger for today. I visited her class one day and she introduced me and asked the kids if they could figure out what was interesting about my name. She had introduced me to them as Dr. Reeve so all they could focus on was whether I was a real doctor. So, I won’t make you guess…she’s my sister. She has been teaching for all of my adolescent and adult life and she is really good at it. She also keeps me grounded in the real world of the classroom. So, without any more silliness from me, I will let her tell you about visuals in her classroom.
Hi! When the topic of this blog began the series on visuals and schedules recently, I just had to share some of my experience of working with students, visuals and schedules. My name is Mary Ann Reeve. In my 35 years of teaching I have taught not only special education but general education also; all on the elementary level. For the past 6 years, I have been teaching a self-contained special education class with students ranging in ages from 5 to 12 years of age. I absolutely LOVE it!
While the title of my classroom is Varying Exceptionalities, I have had a number of students on the autism spectrum at many different ages and abilities. I found that I loved working with kids on the spectrum so much that I went back to school and obtained my Autism Endorsement.
Just a couple of things about me – First, I use all types of schedules with my class, not just my students with ASD. Second, I have to confess I LOVE making visuals. I like them to be specific to each child, so obviously I find myself making lots of them. Also, I have been addicted to Velcro for many years and cannot have enough of it. However, now, I have added magnets to my addiction lately as they are fantastic for being able to rearrange the schedule quickly and cleanly.
Today I thought I would share with you just a few schedules that I have found particularly useful. One of the most important things that makes my classroom work is routine. My students work best when they know what to expect. One of the schedules I use for daily work tasks is printed on 4×6 photo paper with text and pictures of what task they are to do. I love the photo paper because the colors really pop on it. On a chalkboard I use colored tape to make a column for each child. There are 8-4×6 schedule cards for each child. I use self-adhesive business card magnets on the back of the work task cards and fasten them in columns on the chalkboard. Each morning, the students using these schedules arrange them in the order they would like to do their tasks for that day.
The students start at the top of the list. As they complete that task they take the card off the board and put it in their pouch at the bottom of the list. Breaks, known as Choice Time in our room last year, are placed by the teacher at the intervals needed for each student. This has proven very effective for many different ages of students on many different levels.
Another visual tool I use for fire drills is a step-by-step visual schedule that I have taken with us when the fire drill occurs. It has removable pieces the student can take off as they are performed. It keeps them focused on what they should do and what is coming next.
To help you use a system like this in your classroom, you can download the freebie fire drill schedule pieces and the Fire Drill Step chart below. I hope you enjoy using them. I have enjoyed sharing with you a little about how I use schedules in my classroom. Have you used visual supports for fire drills? What types do you use?
You can follow Mary Ann at her TPT store, on Pinterest, and through Superteach56’s Special Ed Spot on Facebook. Go over to like her page and let her know what you think of her visual supports and what other types you have used!