Task boxes play an important role in how we help students practice working independently in my classroom. We use them during independent work systems, centers, stations and during direct instruction. We have them for all different levels and skills which can make it cumbersome to keep track of everything and organize them in a way that allows for easy access.
What are task bins?
Task bins encourages our students to complete tasks independently. These tasks are skills that the students have mastered and can do independently without prompting or assistance from classroom staff. They can be anything from math and reading to cutting and other fine motor skills, and many other things in between.
The goal of task bins is to get our students to work by themselves… to reduce prompt dependency and help them be more functional when they leave us. Our students need prompting and support throughout most of the school day, so it is important for them to learn how to work independently.
organize your task bins
First, have a system in place for each student’s task bins. In my classroom, each student has a three drawer rolling cart with their name on it. Each drawer is one task for the student to complete by themselves. This allows the student to keep materials organized and not to get overwhelmed. At task bins time, each student goes and gets their cart and rolls it to their desk or designated work space. Having an organized task bin system in place will really help your students be successful in working independently.
Next, designate a space to store the materials that will go into the task bins. I have one cabinet for all of my math tasks, one for fine motor tasks, and another one for reading and concepts tasks. With my three drawer system in place, I can pull one task from each of the cabinets for each student when I switch the tasks out every afternoon. Organizing the tasks by their subject and targeted skills makes it so much easier for me and my paras to find a specific task for a student.
If you have the time and many different skill levels in your classroom, you may want to take it one step further and break down those specific subject skills by levels. For example, the money bin in my math tasks cabinet has tasks grouped by errorless, matching, level 1, level 2, etc. This type of organization eliminates wasting time trying to find the level I need.
Finally, I recommend you designate a person to be in charge of switching out the tasks in each every day or to have a system in place that documents what tasks a student has had in their bin each day. This allows you to make sure that your students are working on a variety of skills and not the same tasks over and over again.
If you are unable to assign 1 person to be in charge of task bins, create a “check out” system. A check out systems creates a written log of which tasks students did. This will keep your task bin system organized and efficient.
Organize During covid
With COVID restrictions & guidelines, I would also suggest creating a system to sanitize materials. For example, I have a specific time each day for my para to set up the task bins. We also have a time set aside for materials to be sanitized. Having one person in charge of these tasks helps to keep the system better organized.
To keep task bins organized make sure you have communicated your expectations to all the paras and therapists. Be sure your staff knows…
- If they should prompt students for behavior such as attention to task.
- Should paras intervene if students are getting answers wrong?
- If you don’t want paras helping students during tasks, what should they be doing?
- If they should be taking data on task accuracy, attending, behavior goals, etc.
Having an organized task bin system in place is the key to your students’ success!
Having the right materials will help you stay organized and efficient. Here are some of my favorite materials to use in task bins. Some of the links are affiliate links don’t cost you anything. Click the picture to grab it!
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