It is finally here: back to school time…in person! This also means it is classroom setup time. Let’s take a tour of my Socially Distanced Classroom Setup: K-2 STU (Structured Teaching Unit) classroom. In this blog post, you will learn about how I set up student stations, schedules for students and staff, and data collection.
We got word that we will be returning to in-person instruction in just a few short weeks. I had to think creatively of how to setup my K-2 structured teaching special education classroom while following all health and safety guidelines. While much of the setup of my classroom will be different than years past, many elements will remain the same.
Student Stations Setup
One of our guidelines is that each student will need their own space socially distanced six feet apart. In my classroom during a typical year, I would have color coded small group tables that we would rotate through throughout the day. This year, I will stick with color coded tables, but each student will have their own table that corresponds with their assigned color. I tape around the edge of each table and have the students’ name tags in their corresponding colors as shown above. We will be minimizing movement of students as much as possible, so the students will have everything they need setup at their table. The students will have their visual schedule and token economy board stationed at their table. During a typical year we would have a schedule station where schedules and token boards would be housed.
Each student will have a bin that has their individual materials, such as morning work, assignments, task boxes for the day, materials for whole group lessons, and supplies. My students’ break spaces will also be in the area of their work table due to limited space in our classroom. Each student will have a set of washable mats under their table and a bin with sensory and break choice items that will be available to them to choose from during our designated break times. You can find the washable mats we use here (affiliate link). We also have a trampoline and calming space in our classroom that the students will be able to use individually. These are spaces we can easily sanitize between student use.
Independent Work Station Setup
Throughout the day, we will do whole group lessons, one-on-one goal work sessions, and independent work sessions. The materials the students need for whole group lessons, such as Calendar Group, Numeracy Group, and Literacy Group, will be kept in their materials bin. Each student will have a goal bin that houses all their goal work materials. I will touch on that more later. For independent work sessions, we utilize a 3-Drawer Independent Work System shown in the image above. You can download the labels I used to setup the 3-drawer storage organizer here. I print the labels on color paper to color code the drawers, the tasks inside, and the visual schedule for the student. We have sets of task boxes and file folders that we use in our 3-Drawer Independent Work System.
We all know students thrive on schedules. Most of my students use a horizontal 1-2-3-Choice visual schedule. Some of my students have leveled up to a vertical checklist schedule. Both formats are shown above. We keep our visual schedules on color coded folders for each student.
For students with the 1-2-3-Choice format, their schedule pieces are setup inside to stay organized, and I keep extra pieces in a storage organizer. You can find the type of organizer I use here (affiliate link). As they finish each task on their schedule, they take the piece off, put it in the finished basket on their desk, and replace it with a token on the corresponding space.
For students with the Checklist format, their schedule is laminated to the front of their folder with a dry erase marker attached with Velcro. Their token economy system is at the bottom of their schedule. Each time they check off a task, they receive a token on their token board.
In both formats, the reinforcement choices are setup inside the folder. The token board resets each time they earn their choice. I have found these two systems to be the most effective for my students each year. I use specific language with the students when talking about schedules, such as “Calendar is finished, check out, you get your 1st token, check your schedule.” A staff member in the classroom gives the students their tokens when they earn them. This system works best for us to ensure the reinforcement schedule stays on track for each student.
Staff Schedules Setup
Not only the students thrive on schedules, the staff in the classroom do too! I utilize a few schedules for my staff in our classroom. We use a zoning plan that maps out our day. I go through our daily schedule and make a spreadsheet with each staff member’s name in columns and each time block in rows. You can find a great resource to use as a template from the Simply Special Ed TpT Store here. Then, I assign students to staff members based on what we have going on during each time block, such as lunch, recess, specials, one on one instruction, groups, or breaks. This system helps my paraprofessionals to know exactly what to do all day.
I also have a whiteboard that has our classroom master schedule. Starting on the far left of the board, we have our Whole Class Schedule. I made 3″x3″ visuals to customize our schedule. This way I was able to show it visually to my students and staff. Adults need visuals too!
The two middle columns are our special area, lunch, and recess schedules. My students are assigned to a general education classroom they attend lunch, recess, specials, and inclusion time with. In these columns, I have each classroom teacher listed, what special area class they have, the time for special area, lunch, and recess, the students assigned to that teacher using color coded labels, and which staff member from my classroom is assigned to accompany them to each activity.
The last column is for staff schedules. In this column, I have each staff member listed, their start, lunch, break/planning, and end times.
Related Services Setup
On another wall I have our related services schedules listed as well. Each board lists the type of therapy, day of therapy, and times students are seen. We use color coded labels for each student on these boards. This system has been most effective with keeping track of the many schedules we have going on within our classroom. It’s also helpful to any substitutes we have come in to have the schedule visually laid out for them.
Data Collection Setup
The last big piece of classroom setup I am going to touch on is data collection setup. It has taken me a few years to come up with a data organization system that works for us. It has always been important to me for each child to have an IEP goal bin that houses the materials needed to work on each goal. This year especially, it is important that all materials are kept separate in our socially distanced classroom. Each student has a plastic shoe box container that is labeled with one of their color coded name labels. You can find the bins I use here (affiliate link).
Along with the bin, each student also has a color coded clipboard that houses all data sheets for their goals. I also color code my goals to organize them better. For example, reading goals are red, math goals are blue, writing goals are green, and so on. You can find the data sheets I use from the Simply Special Ed TpT store here.
To keep our data organized, we use a data schedule. We take data on each goal multiple times per week, so we use this schedule to map out when each goal will be tracked throughout the week. Each student has a row on the data schedule and the days of the week are in the columns. I assign the students’ goals to each day of the week, then I assign each child to a staff member in the classroom. We rotate staff members that work with the students and the order we do the goals to ensure valid data. Data organization is key, so finding a system that works for you should be a top priority.
I hope you enjoyed my Socially Distanced Classroom Setup: K-2. Classroom setup is a daunting task in a typical year. This year it feels even more daunting with social distancing and safety precautions. Even though this year will be different, having safe, healthy students at school will make it all worth it. Any questions? Ask away!
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