We all know our students thrive on schedules, so let’s talk about 4 Types of Student Schedules that work. We’ll look at first-then, 1-2-3-choice, vertical, and checklist schedules. I use each type in my classroom depending on the level of the student. Schedules don’t have to complicated, so keep it simple!
Student Schedules Basics
The first step to creating simple student schedules is to decide how to make your schedule and reinforcement choice pieces. I typically use Boardmaker to make my schedule pieces. I incorporate clip art and real image visuals for my schedule pieces. Some other options for schedule pictures are:
Next, decide how to store your schedule pieces. I use a storage organizer like this (affiliate link). You can see an example of my storage in the image above. Once you have your schedule and reinforcement pieces and storage system ready, you can decide what type of schedule your students need. Next I’ll walk you through the four types of student schedules I use in my classroom.
Student Schedule Type #1: First-Then
The first type of schedule I use in my classroom is a first-then board. I use this type of schedule for a student that needs reinforcement more frequently. To set this type of student schedule up, have a first-then board laminated, and put your schedule pieces on a clipboard. Having the pieces in order and easily accessible will make it simple for you to implement this type of schedule throughout the day. I keep a baggie with the student’s reinforcement menu choices on the clipboard. I ask them what they are working for each time I reset their schedule. To use this type of schedule, I put our activity on the “first” side and the student’s reinforcement choice on the “then” side. After completing the activity, the student put the schedule piece in their “finished” basket, then they receive their reward. You can see in the image below the first-then board I use and how I organize the student’s schedule pieces for the day.
Student Schedule Type #2: 1-2-3-Choice
The next type of student schedule I use is a 1-2-3-Choice format. I make this schedule on Boardmaker, but you can also find templates for this in the Simple Visual Schedules Bundle. I like to put our classroom rules on their schedule, so I can gesture to them as needed throughout the day. On the inside of the schedule, I put a few strips of soft Velcro so I can put all the schedules pieces for the day in order. I start by asking the student what they are working for, then I show them their choices from their reinforcement menu. I also store these inside their folder. Then I put the first three activities on their schedule. They receive a token after each activity. When they receive all three tokens, they earn their choice reward. I have my students choose from their highest reinforcers since they have to complete more activities to earn their choice. They earn additional reinforcement during the three activities, such as positive praise, small edible items, short breaks between activities, etc. I typically move my students to this type of schedule once they can tolerate more time between reinforcement.
Student Schedule Type #3: Vertical
The third type of student schedule I use in my classroom is a vertical schedule. I use this type of schedule when my students can tolerate seeing their entire schedule for the day, and when they use a separate token board. This schedule is simple. I use either a laminated piece of card stock or clipboard in the student’s color, put two strips of soft Velcro, and put the schedule pieces for the day in order. The student will check their schedule, take the activity’s schedule piece, and “check in” to the activity. After we complete the activity, I tell the students to “check out,” “check your schedule.” I use this specific language so my students learn the routine of checking their schedule, regardless of which type they use.
When my students use this type of schedule, they use a separate token board. You can see an example of one of our token boards above. I make these token boards on Boardmaker, but you can find some great color coded token boards here in the Simply Special Ed Shop. I like to tape my token boards to the outside of photo boxes, like these. Then, I keep the student’s tokens and their reinforcement menu pieces inside. Simple organization!
Student Schedule Type #4: Checklist
The last of the 4 types of student schedules I use is a checklist visual schedule. I use this type of schedule when my students can manage checking off items on their schedule. This schedule is great for students that spend lots of time in the general education setting. I make this schedule template on Boardmaker, print it out, tape it to a color coded folder, and attach a dry erase marker to it with Velcro. Inside the folder, I store the student’s reinforcement menu choices and tokens. Similarly to the 1-2-3-Choice schedule, this format has 3 token spaces and a choice space. The student will put their reward choice on their schedule, and be given a token after each checked off activity on their schedule.
This schedule is great to use with students that spend time between my self-contained classroom and the general education setting because it is simple for a general education teacher to implement and maintain in their classroom too. It also helps the student to be able to see when they will be in each classroom.
What is your favorite type of schedule? I hope it was helpful to read about the 4 Types of Student Schedules that I use in my classroom. I have found that with structured schedules and predictable routines, behaviors are significantly reduced. Check out Alyssa’s blog post for more about Routines in the Special Education Classroom here. Any questions about student schedules? Let me know in the comments!