3 Ways to Engage Students in Your Special Education Classroom

special education Now that the school year is well underway, whether you are a new teacher or a 30+ year veteran teacher, you are certainly learning a lot about your students and what is or is not working for you, your students, or your classroom.  You may even be noticing that some students are not as engaged in learning as you would like them to be, or are struggling to keep up with new concepts.

I am a resource room special educator for students in grades 5-8 in a small, rural preschool through grade eight school.  My students all have a variety of strengths and challenges, from Autism, Down Syndrome, learning disabilities/dyslexia, and emotional disturbance/behavior challenges.  I have found that in our fourth week, the honeymoon is over, and I am constantly looking for ways to keep my students focused, engaged, and learning!

Improve Focus

I am always searching for ways to help my students get their energy out in appropriate ways, so that they are able to focus on their work and have positive social interactions with others. One of my favorite new additions to my classroom this year are the AlphaBetter® Stand Up Desks. These amazing desks allow students to swing their feet, helping free up their hands from fidgeting, and allowing them to better focus on their work.  I like that these desks can be separated when you need students to work individually or pushed together in a group formation to form larger areas where everyone can face one another.  I love grouping these desks for group games or assignments that require collaboration.

special needs classroom

Another great feature of this desk is the ample storage compartment so that students can store books and binders away, keeping the top of the desk clear and making items easily accessible. You can also get the added book box with a three-way pencil tray, which keeps pencils from rolling off the side. This school year, the AlphaBetter desks are so popular that I loaned several out to various teachers to support students in the classroom. We were having an issue with students not paying attention, rocking dangerously in chairs, or fidgeting in inappropriate ways. These stand up desks provide students with a safe, quiet, and appropriate way to release energy and not disrupt the rest of the class.

Educational Games

Another way I help motivate my students and keep them engaged is through the use of educational games. One of my students’ favorite games is Fraction Formula™.  This fast-paced fraction game helps students understand fractional numbers in relation to one another, as well as boosting problem solving and social skills. My students enjoy this game so much that they actually ask to play it during indoor recess and their incentive time! The fast-paced nature of the game makes it easy to fit into just about any fraction lesson, and keeps students fully engaged!

special education

Colorful Lessons

Finally, another favorite classroom tool I love using to help keep my students motivated and engaged are dry erase markers! Whether used on our larger classroom white boards or on mini white boards during small group instruction, my students love how fun the markers are to use, and I love how easily they erase. Because the markers come in so many colors, I am able to color code my lessons, or really break down the steps in solving math equations. During spelling instruction, my students are much more motivated to write their spelling words when given a mini white board and the choice of what color marker they will use.

special education students

Now that you have had a chance to get to know your students better, it is time to implement strategies, tools, and materials to help keep them focused, engaged, and motivated all school year long! The Alphabetter desks, educational games, and dry erase markers are just a few of my favorite products that are working well for my special education students. Learning can and should be fun! The more fun lessons can be, the more motivated and engaged your students will be!

Visit www.ssww.com/special-needs to find even more helpful products for your Special Education classroom.

special education classroomAbout the Author:

Allyson Carter teaches middle school special education in a small rural school, mostly in a resource room setting. She is certified in elementary education k-6 and special education k-12. In her free time, Allyson enjoys spending time with her husband, two young children, and their pets.

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