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What is Independent Work in Special Education?

Independent work in special education is basically any activity that a student is able to do completely independently. The type of work that you give to a student will depend on his or her cognitive ability and IEP goals. I always had built-in time for independent work in my classroom; it was part of our daily schedule. While students were working at an independent work center, I typically took that opportunity to work with a small group of students or an individual student. Sometimes I would teach them a new skill or sometimes I would take data for their IEP on previous skills learned.

Independent work in special ed is any activity that a student is able to do completely independently.

Why is Independent Work Important?

Independent work in special education is extremely important. It shows us that students are capable of completing activities without prompting and that they can follow basic directions when needed and problem solve. These are important life skills that we want our students to have in order to succeed and function within society.

Independent work in special education shows that students are capable of completing activities without prompting and can follow directions.

3 Ideas for Independent Work Stations

Here are three activities for independent work stations that I have used in my Autism classroom before. You can make each of these stations differentiated to meet the needs of each learner.

1. Errorless Learning Activities

Errorless work tasks are one of my favorite things to use with students. If you are wondering what they are (I had NO CLUE before I began using them), they are basically work tasks that do not have a wrong answer. So, as long as students complete the task, then they are successful. This is one of the many reasons that I love errorless work activities! Students feel successful, plus they actually complete the task asked of them!

Not to mention the reason we are discussing them – errorless work tasks can be done completely independently! This means that even new students and those who haven’t mastered many skills can participate in independent work stations! I call that a WIN for sure! You can read more about errorless work tasks here.

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Use errorless learning activities for independent work in special education

2. Basic Concepts File Folders

Another great way to have students in special ed complete work independently is by using file folders. I have many different versions of file folders but my Basic Concepts File Folders bundle are actually my favorites to use for independent work. The reason for this is because these are skills that students need to know and these file folders have pretty obvious directions of what to do. Hence, they are great for independent work.

Students will work on activities such as sorting big and small items, recognizing numbers to 10 and identifying in or out. Everything that they need is right there in the folder and you can give them 1-4 file folders to complete at a time, depending on the student’s stamina and ability level.

3. Differentiated CVC Cut and Paste Worksheets

Finally, the last activity that I enjoy using for independent work in my special education classroom is CVC Cut and Paste Worksheets. What makes them especially great is that there is NO PREP involved (just print!) I also love them because it is easy to differentiate with each student since there are 4 different levels included. Even if you have students who can only trace, these work great! Besides being engaging for students as they cut, write and paste, these are also very helpful for fine motor practice!

differentiated CVC Cut and Paste worksheets for independent work

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Text: Monthly file folders subscription perfect for independent work tasks Photo: several blank file folders spread out on blue background

Do you have your special education students complete independent work in your classroom?

3 Ideas for Independent Work in Special Education
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