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Sunday, 6 September 2015

Classroom Reveal & Organization Tips

Happy Labour Day weekend everyone!  We start school on Tuesday, so I plan on enjoying this weekend as much as possible!  But, before I start relaxing, I wanted to share my classroom set-up with you and how I organize everything.  This is a photo heavy post, so grab your favourite beverage, sit back and enjoy!  Next week, I will resume my series: Inside the HELP.  I haven't forgotten about, just got sidetracked with setting up my classroom!

Classroom Model

For those of you who don't know, my classroom is based on a transitional model.  This means that students come into my room for a short period of time (from 6 months to two years) and then transition into a regular classroom setting.  It is a section 23 or treatment classroom and students who come into my room need intensive behavioural and/or therapy to learn the pre-requisite skills necessary to be successful in a regular classroom.  The other unique feature of my classroom is that we also train the EAs who will be working with these students before they go back to their home schools.  The EAs usually spend about two months in my room being trained on ABA and SLE teaching principles and how to implement behaviour treatment plans.  

We have capacity for 6 students in my classroom, and serve students in grades JK to 6.  The students also vary in their level of functioning and severity of ASD, from mild to severe.  As such, I need to have a wide variety of teaching materials.  The other important thing to note about my classroom, is that while students our in my room, they are not eligible for SEA claims.  Because it is a treatment classroom, it is expected that we would have all of the necessary equipment to meet the students' needs.  When students are ready to transition out, we can then apply for SEA claims so that they have access to specialized equipment once they return to their home schools.  Because these students need a lot of adapted teaching materials, we always send materials with them when they leave our classroom.  Therefore, I always have to have duplicates of teaching materials so that I can send some with the students when they leave. 

The Philosophy Behind the Set-Up 

Not that I have given you some background information, I can better explain how my classroom is set-up.  I use the Structured Learning Environment (SLE) or TEACCH approach for the physical setup of my room.  You read more about this approach here.  Basically this approach refers to the way each area in the classroom environment is set up and where materials and furniture are placed.  

There are two key concepts to consider when organizing your classroom according to the SLE approach:

  • Create clear physical and/or visual boundaries to help students know where each area begins and ends. 
  • Minimize auditory and visual distractions. 
Segmenting the environment helps clarify expectations. Once students are taught expected behaviors for each space in the classroom, the distinct areas become powerful cues for appropriate behaviour.  Reducing distractions helps students to focus on the concepts that are being taught instead of details that may not be relevant, and reduces competing distractions. Often when students with ASD are presented with too much stimulus (visual or auditory), processing may slow down, or if overloaded, processing may stop completely. 

Classroom Tour

Ok, now onto the photos!  This is the view as you walk into my classroom.  These tables are used for centres and snack time.  Our prep counter in in the back corner, along with my desk and the cupboard where we store all of our iPads and Chromebooks.

This is the view to the right as you walk into my room.  This table is used for group teaching and the white cubbies are where the students hang their coats and backpacks.  I also use this cubby for storing my centre bins on top and behind the unit are additional cubbies where I store extra toys.

Behind the group teaching table, are cubbies and shelves that I use to store books, and math and literacy manipulatives and teaching materials.  In the rolling cart, I store all of the activities for our math and language arts centres for the week.

Along one wall, I am lucky to have a bank of cupboards where we store teaching materials, prep materials and office supplies as well as reinforcers.  As you can see from the photos, I am obsessed with bins!!!  I love using bins to store and organize almost everything in my classroom.

On top of the cupboards there is space to store teaching materials in bins.  Here I store all of our centre activities, according to theme and materials we sure for Discrete Trial Teaching.

Inside the cupboards, I keep art supplies, reinforcers, games and puzzles, sensory bins and materials to make independent work tasks.

In our art cupboard, I also keep the visuals for the students and paint smocks on the inside of the door.

This is our prep counter.  I mounted rails from Ikea and hung these plastic bins on the rails to store scissors, markers, etc.  On the counter are our laminator, staplers and hold punch.  Below the counter in the cupboard, we store our laminating pouches, velcro, baggies and file folders.  Beside the counter is a rolling cart that we keep all the prep in that needs to be laminated, cut, etc.

On the filing cabinet beside my desk, I have dish racks that hold dry erase boards and the students' math and language arts binders that we use during our centre time.  On the side of the filing cabinet, I have posted all of the visuals needed for running centres.  On the back of the filing cabinet, is a hanging pockets with choice boards, first/then boards and working for boards, as well as pencil cases that we use in our centres and my folding magnetic chart that I use for group language arts lessons.

Next to the filing cabinet is our Independent Work space.  There is space for two students to be here at the same time and each student is levelled according to their skills and abilities.   I have organized all of the tasks according colours and then each student is only given tasks of their colour to complete.

Behind the group teaching table, is the one on one teaching area.  This is where we do discrete trial training.  This space also has enough room for two students to receive instruction at the same time.  At each table, I have posted choice boards, first/then boards and working for cards.  When the students come to the table, the first thing they do is choose a reinforcer to work for.

We use the Hawaii Early Profile as our curriculum and develop the students IEP goals from it.  I have organized all of the student's teaching materials according to the HELP goal  number, so that it is easy find the materials during teaching sessions.  The goal number is also on the students' data sheets, so all we have to do is read the number and find the corresponding materials.  It makes these sessions run so much more smoothly.  I put all of the flashcards in these hanging wall pockets I found at Target last year and then the bulky materials in the bins in these wooden storage carts.

Next to the one on one teaching space, is our SMART board where we have our morning meetings, music class and group math and language arts lessons.  It is also used for structured play.  The space is defined by the wooden storage carts in the one on one teaching space, a large cupboard and a toy shelf.  On the back of the cupboard, I hung my number and alphabet pocket charts.

On the other side of this cupboard is our play and gross motor area.  It is bordered by two tall cupboards in which we store extra toys and gross motor play items on one side and by a toy shelf and bookshelves on the other.  We teach our students functional play through imitation, modelling and play scripts.  We also teach them to make and follow play schedules to ensure they are engaged in functional play.  The play choice boards and schedules are posted on the side the cupboard.

Also in this area is our reading corner.  I have non-readers this year, so most our the books we use are adapted and board books.  We also have a little guy that likes to take all of the books off of the shelves, so I keep some of our books in these hanging pockets I got from Thirty-One and hung our Back to School adapted book set on the bulletin board in this corner.

And lastly, student schedules!  I post the student's daily schedules in the centre of the room, so that they are easily accessible throughout the day.   We keep the Boardmaker symbols we use on the students' schedules in these organizers I got at Walmart.  The schedules we use for gym class are kept on the back of the classroom door.  And the Boardmaker symbols for gym class are posted on the side of the students' cubbies beside the door.

Well, that was a lengthy post!  I hope you found it helpful and I would love to hear your classroom organization tips!  Leave me a comment below!

Until next time,


  1. I love how organized and well thought out your room is. I appreciate that your class is beautiful without feeling over decorated or too cutesy. Thank you for sharing about your classroom, it's so inspiring!

  2. Your room looks so great! I love how everything is organized, especially how you have tasks organized by goals! Wow!!
    Mrs. H's Resource Room

  3. Thank you for this wonderful article really…helpful…Boom Lift


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