Thursday, July 11, 2013

Visual Solutions For Staying in Your Space

Ever have a student (or 5) who line up at the door and are all over the other kids, in their space, and bothering everyone?  Have a student (or 5) who are constantly fighting about where to sit at the table?  These are challenges we face in general and special education.  It's prevalent in younger grades, but some of our students still struggle with this at older ages.  I may have a solution....paper...taped....on....the...floor / table / chair.

Every time I suggest this and put it in place in a classroom, I feel like such a fraud.  A teacher asks for ideas about how to handle this challenging behavior and I suggest that we tape paper on the floor.  But I have to tell you, it works almost every time.  Will there be a student who it isn't effective for?  Sure.  However, if the problem involves more than 1 student, chances are this is a good solution for a number of them.  When I forget to put these cues in place for the kids i work with who have autism, I remember it really quickly when they are all over each other while lining up.  So, I thought I would share some examples of how these types of visual cues can be used to prevent behaviors when you set up your classroom (like I know you are thinking about, even thought it's summer!).

 One of the easiest strategies to use is putting feet on the floor.  This works great for younger classes and resource classes.  In this example, we used clear packing tape to tape the feet to the floor.  We used colored feet so that if we needed to, we could tell students who didn't need to stand next to each other) to stand on colors at different places.  Two pieces of advice when doing this.  First, tape the feet on the floor with the door open or you (read, I) end up taping them too close to the door and it hits the line leader.  Second, use Scotch packing tape.  In this case, the brand name is actually better--it's more durable.
In this example, we weren't allowed to put tape on the floor.  It was a brand new building.  So, we took 2 strips of contact paper, put the feet between them, and sealed them up.  Word to the wise, put hard Velcro strips on the bottom so it grabs the carpet and keeps it from slipping when people stand on it.  One of the great things about this one was that we could take it with us to specials and other activities in the school and use it to line up in other places. We just rolled it out at the door.  





On the left, the students line up with a buddy and they walk 2 by 2 down the hall.  

On the right, we used shapes rather than feet because the students were older.  I have also used numbers and just plain squares or rectangles.  


You can also put names on them for a little more direction.

In addition to lining up, visuals are great for telling students where to sit.  In this example, every student has a shape at the table that tells him or her where to sit at the table.  The shape has his or her name on it and the color typically coordinates with his schedule color in a resource classroom.  On this table, we used packing tape again to put them down.   We have found this to be more durable than Velcro but it really depends on your situation.   This is also a great strategy to use for younger students during carpet time; put a visual down where he needs to sit.  If he can stay on the carpet square or other marker with just the visual, it reduces the adult support he needs.

 If you have a student who is included in a general education classroom, or as students get older, just write his or her name on tape and put it on the desk or place at the table.  For instance, if he goes into science, his place at the lab table could have his name on it.  You could velcro it as well.

 And finally, some students need more visual structure.  This guy would sit in his chair at the table, but over time he would move his chair farther and farther away from the activity.  To help him stay in one place without continual reminders, the teacher put duct tape on the floor surrounding his chair.  Over time we faded the tape by picking up pieces of it at a time.  I've done the same thing with a student who kept moving away during calendar time.  We put the tape on the floor and the difference in his behavior was unbelievable. Suddenly he wouldn't let his chair stray out of the box!  Which meant he was sitting right where he should be.

So, those are just a few examples of how visual supports can be used to help students know where to be in the classroom.  As I said, it never ceases to amaze me how well it works.  And if you think about it, it's not that different than the sign at the DMV that tells us "Wait here for the next clerk."  And if you have gone through airport security recently, there are feet on the floor that tell you where to wait and where to stand when you go through the scanner or when you wait for the results.  Unfortunately they won't let me take pictures there!

So, how have you used visual supports to help students know where to stand and sit?  Share in the comments as everyone can always use more new ideas!




12 comments:

  1. For my line, I use sight words (I change them up every trimester -- I'm starting next year with color words, but I've done emotions, community helpers, Fry's words, citizenship (e.g. city, town, president, vote, etc.) words, and many others).

    My students move up one spot each day (so there's no arguing about who is first), and have a word that they stand on. Each morning, they pass their word to the next person and place it on a visual on their desk. I laminate the words and tape them down with painter's tape (I'm not allowed to use packing tape).

    Also, an idea for assemblies: for one student in particular, I take a folding stadium chair (the kind that's just the seat and back) so he has a defined space to sit.

    (I'm just starting to participate in blogs using my "teacher identity" but I'm enjoying this blog very much.)

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    1. These are all awesome ideas! Thanks so much for sharing them and participating!!

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  2. When I taught preschool I used mouse pads for lining up; the first person had the circle one and the rest had a square shape. I taught a sped classroom and used male side of sew on velcro with numbers on it and the students lined up according to their number. Their name and number was listed on the board and every day it changed so every one got a chance to be number 1, this was also an activity of finding their name and identifying numbers.

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    Replies
    1. More cool ideas! This is terrific. Thanks so much for sharing!
      Chris

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  3. When I taught at a school for kids with autism, we used little mats shaped like circles. Each student had their name on one, and they were durable and thick so the kids couldn't ruin them. They were responsible for lining up, and then picking up their spot when they started moving. They would then hand all of the spots to the teacher by the door, who would follow the end of the class. That way, all of the spots were with us when we were ready to transition back to class.

    They looked like the circular mats at this link
    http://www.lakeshorelearning.com/product/productDet.jsp?productItemID=1%2C689%2C949%2C371%2C893%2C023&ASSORTMENT%3C%3East_id=1408474395181113&bmUID=1373590710781

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    Replies
    1. Thank you! I was going to mention them but couldn't think of what to call them or where to find them when I was writing. I love these because they are portable and very durable. They are often used in PE for bases and where to stand, but I love using them for lines as well. And the idea of having the students pick them up and turn them in is awesome! Thanks!!

      Chris

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  4. In my developmental preschool classroom, we also use the vinyl "spots" for seats at circle. During some years I taped a colored geometric paper shapes to the spots, or their printed names, or their photo (depending on their understanding of the concept). I really like the idea of using the spots at dismissal and picking them up to take with us. that's a tip I will incorporate this year. One tip about spacing the foot prints or spots: think about how the child's mass increases in winter clothing and with a backpack on. I've had to space out those spots further than I thought! ~Denise www.playlearnteach.org

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    Replies
    1. That is an awesome tip about the winter clothing! We don't have to worry about that much in Florida, but I would have in other places I've set up classes! I love spots for circle too!

      Chris

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  5. Just saw this posted on pinterest and had to thank you for this post! I have used more and more tape and visual cues with my kinders to define their space, and though they respond well, I sometimes worried I was being too ocd about where my students were...thanks for letting me know I am just being smart, lol!

    Another great resource for hard-surface flooring is gym floor tape. Comes in great colors and different sizes, sticks beautifully and peels up clean. My kinders have to line up in a bendy line to exit our room, and my tape line on the floor was like magic! I think kids just find such freedom in knowing exactly "where they stand".

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks so much for commenting and sharing. I don't think I have heard of gym floor tape. I will have to check it out!

      Delete
  6. Just saw this posted on pinterest and had to thank you for this post! I have used more and more tape and visual cues with my kinders to define their space, and though they respond well, I sometimes worried I was being too ocd about where my students were...thanks for letting me know I am just being smart, lol!

    Another great resource for hard-surface flooring is gym floor tape. Comes in great colors and different sizes, sticks beautifully and peels up clean. My kinders have to line up in a bendy line to exit our room, and my tape line on the floor was like magic! I think kids just find such freedom in knowing exactly "where they stand".

    ReplyDelete

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